I love San Francisco, with one of my favorite sites being the Palace of Fine Arts. I took this picture when I lived in the Bay Area many years ago...
An artist will do "studies" of a subject before committing to a larger piece. In my early days, I avoided doing studies because I believed there was something magical in that first attempt at interpreting a subject -- a certain indefinable energy -- and worried that this magic would be lost if I drew it many times before. But now I realize that studies are imperative as they allow you to better understand and interpret the subject matter. You have to figure out what works and what doesn't. You are seeking maximum impact.
One may believe that there's something special in the first time you have sex with a new partner. But mostly it's just awkward and clumsy (of course I'm speaking of the general populace -- I'm always fantastic). It takes some experimenting before you get good at the humping. Each partner is different. You figure out what works and what doesn't, and it's developed through a combination of communication, trial and error, and experience. This is the basis for doing studies. You want the painting's toes to curl.
I'm pondering doing a large scale painting of the Palace of Fine Arts. I've been developing some studies to make sure that I've perfected the humping. Here are a few early examples:
Study of Palace of Fine Arts (pen, ink, and colored pencil on paper, 5.5x8").
Study for Palace of Fine Arts (ball point pen on paper, 8.5x11). For this one, I'm trying to figure out the best arrangement within the frame -- the mise en scène for those fancy types. The Palace of Fine Arts is an enormous and magnificent structure. The dynamic is altered by simply playing with its placement within the frame.
Study for Palace of Fine Arts (watercolor on Rives BFK paper, 7x12").