View Full Version : ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

Deborah Secor
04-10-2005, 04:46 PM
Why do so many artists think that thumbnail sketches are important? These quick little sketches have been around as long as there have been artists making paintings. There’s a good chance that somewhere near the caves at Lascaux you might find a place where the artists warmed up with a few little thumbnails sketches.

Thumbnails are valuable because they help the artist distill a complex and overwhelming subject into perhaps six or seven basic shapes. The size of these drawings can be anything from a literal thumbnail (the source of the description), perhaps one inch square, up to credit card size and even as large as 5x7” if the finished painting is to be quite large scale.

The idea is to break down a complex subject into simple shapes that are small in size and therefore quickly done. These are not meant to be labored over or carefully resolved, although the amount of time that goes into any one sketch is quite varied among artists. From thirty seconds to five minutes, the thumbnail sketch is used to capture the fundamental nature of a place. The speed with which the artist works is part of what helps to keep the brain from dawdling over intricacies or stopping to puzzle something out. Instead one must move, respond, try, try again, not taking time to think.

A student of mine proved the value of such speed one day quite unexpectedly. The assignment was to make some quick thumbnail sketches from a photograph, varying the approach by changing the format or rearranging elements. My student had selected a quick sketch that pleased him and fastened it on his drawing board next to his photograph. As he began to draw I came by and saw that the building he was drawing was one of the pueblo style flat-roofed houses common to the southwest. In perspective the roofline was at a steep angle, something he had easily seen and recorded in his sketch. However, as he began to draw he made the roofline parallel to the edge of the paper without any slope. When I pointed this out he looked puzzled for a moment and then the light went on. “I’ll be darned,” he said, ”I knew it was a flat roof so I started drawing it that way…” He’d had no trouble seeing the shapes when he suspended what he knew about the building. The lesson is that in working small and fast you may help to suspend the part of your brain that wants to use the shortcut that you may have already unconsciously decided on—the ‘flat’ roof of the building for example.

Another valuable part of thumbnails is the quick resolution of values. Divide your sketch into only 2 or 3 values. Rearrange things so that you arrive at different tonal compositions, perhaps making the foreground dark in one and light in the next, just to see what it does. Try darkening or lightening values in different areas. Create different effects by drawing the darkest and lightest values close together, placing them in different quadrants of the image area. Vary the size of dark and light areas. Play. Experiment. Have some fun. No one ever has to see these drawings, they are for you alone to help you find new ways of composing.

Start with a 30 second thumbnail sketch, then do the same one in 2 minutes, then in 5 minutes. You'll be amazed what you can capture on paper in 30 seconds if you practice and you may end up liking it better than the 5 minute version, in the long run.



Try different compositions from the same photograph. Vary the shapes and divisions of space, zooming in closer or moving to one side or the other to achieve different compositions.




Thumbnail sketches can be the size of your thumbnail, literally, or the size of a credit card, as long as you are working small enough not to become too detailed.



Try varying the format of the image from vertical to horizontal. My notes help me remember the thing I was most interested in painting. I’ll use the photograph for my painting alongside the thumbnail.

So, your assignment is to show us your thumbnail sketches! They can be any size, any number of varitations you want. It might help if we can see your photograph, too, if you use a photo, or at least shots of the place you were standing when you did your thumbnails. It would be most helpful to you to make more than one sketch, too. Try all sorts of different ones, from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, and keep track of how long they are so we will know. Oh, and you can use any media you want to to do this--charcoal, pencil, pastel pencils--whatever. Have fun!


04-11-2005, 03:57 PM
This a great subject for an ESP! Thanks for doing this one! I think a LOT of us can benefit from putting thumbnails to use BEFORE diving into finished work...they don't take long to do at all and they really help in trying out compositional options. I LOVE looking at other folks' thumbnails too...seeing them as tiny forms of art in their own right; they seem to reveal a lot about the artist's personal view of the world, like a sort of personal shorthand.

Most of my past thumbnails collection is from life on site but without benefit of photos...didn't have a decent camera then and these thumbnails were my "notes" of what I saw with lots of color descriptions written in and stuff. I can post a couple of those, and they ARE still very useful altho it's been years since I did them. Some of them are over 20 years old, but the notes I made and so on bring the scene back almost BETTER than photos would since they recorded what I saw which is sometimes different than reality...I've never been too overly connected to reality,ya know! :D

The value studies type of thumbnail is extremely useful too.

I'm assuming these can be in any media? Pencil, ink, colored pencil, pastel, watercolor, etc.?

Deborah Secor
04-11-2005, 06:11 PM
Yep, any media you want to use is fine with me! As long as it leads to a pastel painting eventually. I'd love to see yours, no matter how old! But do you do them now??? If so, how about oldies and some of the new ones?

I interviewed one artist who said she did a little thumbnail sketch down on the corner of her paper and as long as she was staying true to that massing she knew she was okay. When she finished she just smooshed over the thumbnail and it became a part of the painting! I liked that idea.

So, c'mon everyone.... lets see a thumbnail. It'll take you longer to take the pictures than it will to do the thumbs! :p :D


04-11-2005, 10:46 PM
This is something I have really wanted to start doing......So your Deborah your thread inspired me to start!!! Took my daughter to the park, grabbed a sketch book and a graphite pencil....

Did these 2 in breaks of chasing her around....About 2 minutes each...appox. "credit card size"
I kinda like the top one... May go try another at the same spot ...with more time spent next time...

04-12-2005, 05:16 AM
I cut this out of a newspaper ages ago and liked it. So I decided to do thumbnails of it, and maybe try to paint it later. I am probably making it difficult as I will have to imagine the colours. It was interesting as the first thumbnail was obviously wrong. I would have wasted paper on it! I liked the reversed image best. It took about 5 minutes.

04-12-2005, 10:48 AM
i am SO HAPPY you did this!! thank you much!! i have had a BURNING question about using the thumbnails and hoping for some good answers, as i know i am asking the right ppl finally! :D

i do the thumbnails, try to vary them, doing a few for the image that has caught my interest, much like in your article. now the question is--often i like most of the thumbnails, how to narrow them down to what would really work as a painting??!! how do you pick just one? or maybe i shouldn't be picking one, but doing as many paintings as i have done successful thumbnails? (3 t/n's = 3 paintings?) do many of you do more than one painting per idea? as in, one spot at the lake, one painting, or do many of you do say, 3 paintings of the lake, if you came up with 3 good ideas? and do you just go on that same quick impulse to choose, before you think too much about it?? or look at them for a time to rationally choose what would make a good painting? oh help me!! this has really been an issue with me and i really need and want as much as i can learn from this!! THANKS!

Deborah Secor
04-12-2005, 06:40 PM
Dania, thanks for 'breaking the ice' and sharing your thumbnails! I really like both of them for different reasons. Your quick strokes are very pleasing and expressive. You have a built-in timer in your daughter I guess--and it works to keep you loose.

Ann, that's a really moody photo, sort of windswept and lonely looking. I assume your first one is on the top. I'm always careful not to have objects sitting right on the 'windowsill' of a painting, the way you did at first. I like the bottom left one with the mountain suggested in the distance and the shadow of the building pointing to the tree and yuccas (or agaves, whichever they are), which then move your eye back around to the building again.


Deborah Secor
04-12-2005, 06:47 PM
Chewie, good questions!

The thumbnails are a means that I use to find what I believe will be the BEST compostion. If more than one is successful I may do one of a couple of things. First I may take the two or three I like and determine what is the strongest part about each one and then combine it inot one I like even more (hopefully...) Or I might do more than one painting if it seems like they will all work for different reasons. Usually I start with 30 seconds, then move on to 2 minutes, then maybe resolve the best one into a 5 minute thumbnail. Usually when I'm outside sketching I do a thumbnail or two just to help me find what I want to limit my painting to, since being outside can seem a bit overwhleming. I get tempted to put in too much information and the thumbs help me decide what will go where. Then I do an very quick, intuitive underdrawing on the paper, per the thumb, and away I go! Show us some of your thumbnails and paintings, if you want! I'd love to see how you do them.


04-13-2005, 12:57 PM
Deborah - great idea! I missed the exact purpose by doing 2 thumbnails of one scene (oops) but did a few of different photos that I've taken just to see what's there and NOT! It's good exercise and you've reminded me how important they are - especially when doing landscapes or scenery.

many many thanks.... Barb


Deborah Secor
04-13-2005, 04:53 PM
Oooo, Barb, I love the second one down on the left side of the trees and shadows. That would make a really neat composition. Why not give that one a try??? I can see some of your strong color work in it.


04-13-2005, 07:08 PM
Thanks Deborah - perhaps you'll actually see a piece out of this after that wonderful encouragement.
If so... I promise to post it.

Cheers! Barb

Nancy Leone
04-18-2005, 02:14 PM
I was hoping to get down to your class on one of these Thursdays but guess I might just have to be happy learning from you on-line.
Anyway, went out in the yard for about 20 minutes this morning and sketched these thumbnails...not too excited about showing them (usually I keep my sketchbook well hidden). But I am beginning to realize the importance of doing a quick sketch first before jumping into a painting, especially working outdoors.
Thanks for all your help!



Bill Foehringer
04-19-2005, 12:15 AM
Today's thumbnail and it's offspring. I did this at lunch today. "Creek and Willow", Pastel 7x5 on Wallis BillF

Deborah Secor
04-19-2005, 09:21 AM
Nancy, great little sketches! :D I had to separate them to see what you had--hope that's okay.... No reason to be ashamed of these at all! I like the one on the bottom left side particularly. That's a lot of seeing for 20 minutes!! Thanks for showing us. Now, a painting, perhaps? Oh--I think I saw one yesterday. If so, plop it in here for us to see, will you? :D

Come to a Thursday class one of these days...we have a class on painting from the same image this week! Well, perhaps online will have to do.

Bill, it looks greally good! Do you do sketches each time you work onlocation? If so, I'd like to see more... :D


Laura Shelley
04-19-2005, 12:56 PM
Here are some of my sketchbook pages, all quite recent. They're done from photos I took at the beach and in Death Valley, with my children appearing in some of them. That's a pretty bad photo of the pastel, but it's 11x14. The thumbnails are mostly in the 2x3 or 3x4 inch size range.

I'm VERY glad I started doing these! Deborah, your demonstrations here were definitely the motivating factor. :)

Laura Shelley
04-19-2005, 01:00 PM
And here are a couple of little 5x7 color studies of the same subjects. I have some larger paintings as well, but no good photos of them right now.

Paula Ford
04-19-2005, 01:42 PM
OH thank you so much for this lesson Deborah. Last night as I was just dreaming of painting (don't have anywhere to paint in my house yet) I came here and saw this thread and ran right into the livingroom and started to sketch. I'm a terrible sketcher, but here it is, along with the reference picture and some other sketches. DON'T LAUGH!!

Will post more later
Thank you again!!

Deborah Secor
04-19-2005, 05:45 PM
Madame Manga, the drawings are wonderful! Your paintings are lush. Good, rich colors, nice contrasts, and the strokes please me. It's fun seeing how the paintings came out of the sketches. (One thing, the horizon under the hole in the rock looks crooked to me--it's probably just the photo that did it.) So glad you showed us these. If you get some pix of the other paintings share them, too!!

Paula, stop it--there's nothing to laugh at here!! I think your second one has a lot of promise, don't you? I really like the negative shapes in the sky. I might carry the mountains along behind hte tree on the left a bit if it was mine. I love that angled grass line leading to the tree.

Glad this encouraged you all to sketch. You know, it's a great way to see and it takes very little time or materials, so there's no reason why we don't just do it all the time! I keep a little 4x6" sketchpad by my computer and I do itsy little ones when I'm on th ephone or waiting for a photo to load on my computer! If I can get some shots I'll show you...

I hope more of you will show us your thumbnails!!! This is fun! Thanks all...


Laura Shelley
04-20-2005, 12:01 AM
I just attended a talk on how to photograph artwork, so maybe my next batch of shots will turn out a little better. :) Thank you, Deborah! I'm a real novice with landscape, but I'm enjoying the exploration very much, and maybe beginning to realize just how much I don't know!

Bill Foehringer
04-20-2005, 11:51 PM
My thumbnail from lunchtime session and the finished painting "Breezy Day" Pastel 7x5 on Wallis Mist
1 Thumbnail. I tried to work out values more this time. I used the viewfinder and the little greyscale that came with my Guerilla box. It was alot of help.
2 Finished painting I tweaked down the pink from the flash. This is much closer to the real thing. I could have taken the pink down a little more but the greens were starting to change. For some reason the flash picked up the mars violet in the sky and water more than the blue and yel ochre.
3 untweaked version of the above photo, yuch. BillF

Deborah Secor
04-21-2005, 12:08 AM
Very nice, Bill. You adhered to the thumbnail quite well. Viewfinders are a great help. It seems to put the thing into a window and helps me limit what I'm painting. The thumb nails the 'where' of things on paper.

I like both color versions--maybe you should consider doing a pink one, too! ;)


Bill Foehringer
04-21-2005, 09:25 AM
Thanks Deborah. You know, now that I look at the pink one it has a little more 'zing' than the way I did it originally. Something to keep in mind. Especially the way the pink shows up throughout the painting. I did lay the mars violet around as a unifying color. I'll have to look through my pastels for that tint of pink. The mars violet I have from Remb. is not that pink. Let's see, 'flash pink', I wonder who makes that color? LOL BillF

Paula Ford
04-23-2005, 09:29 PM
Well, here are some more little ones. Trying to do this every day. Practice makes perfect :cat:

04-29-2005, 01:32 PM
I almost always do thumbnails and always recommend them to my students but find a lot of resistance, and can never understand why!

When I do thumbnails, I find they help me to crystalize a few thughts. The most important of these is

1. The VALUE PATTERN within the rectangle. In fact, I have started to call my thumbnails "Small Value Pattern Sketches" instead of thumbnails, so that my students are reminded of what I think is perhaps the most important of the design elements to consider in these little sketches.

However, just saying "value pattern" doesn't say enough. I find that students STILL use line (to define a tree, or a road) with the odd bit of scribbly tone here and there, and when I ask "is that entire shape going to be lighter, or darker, than the shape next to it?", they look blank. If, say, your sky, and your sea, are divided by a simple horizon line, and they are both left as white paper, how do you know which shape is darker, or lighter than the other? EVERY shape you draw with a line around it - be it a tree, or group of trees, or a clump of grasses, or an area of sky, or a group of clouds, or a road, has a tone value, and if you can simplify it into either its dark, medium or light basic tone value, you will begin to get a real sense of the value pattern throughout the image. Equal amounts of light, and dark tones, will be monotonous, so I always aim for a dominance of one, or the other.

Then, I look at

2. The format - do I want a wider, taller, thinner, or whatever, pic? To make sure that I can change the format, I always work to a much smaller size than the size of the page I am working on. Then I can make the image bigger if I want. I have often found that students use tiny sketchbooks, and use a whole page, and then they are stuck with either that size, or making it smaller.

3. The focal point - do I have/want one? If yes, is it positioned well? Too close to the centre? Too close to the edge?

4. Echoing shapes - can I find some in the scene? This will help strengthen my pic by setting up a rhythm.

5. The underlying geometry. Mostly horizontals and verticals? Lots of diagonals? Lots of curving forms? Ideally, | like one of these ideas to dominate.

6. Division of the rectangle. If it is a landscape, have I too much sky? If it is about the sky, have I too much land?

There are various other things, but I dont want to hog too much space, just thought some of you might find this little check list helpful. I used to keep a check list in the back of my sketchbook.

I find that the more decisions I take at this stage, the less difficulties I get into further down the line into the painting.

Deborah Secor
04-29-2005, 05:21 PM
Jackie, thanks--these are excellent suggestions!! Now, show us some of your thumbnails!! Please....pretty please? With a cherry on top???? :D

Paula, how did these little ones get past me? <scratching head> Hey! I remember typing out comments on them... Hmmm, I must have previewed my response and not posted it! (I hate when I do that!) The three trees--yes, you made that into a painting, didn't you? That one is an excellent example of some of the things Jackie told us... Kewl! :cool: Thanks for sharing!


04-30-2005, 01:35 PM
Sorry I can't find the ones I'm thinking of right now, but I've also used thumbnails of the same subject for several paintings using Jackie's idea of picture shape. For instance, a bank of trees with a road and some bushes can yield a large panorama-like painting, a wide, oblong painting of just the retreating band of trees with emphasis on the shadows they cast across the road, and a couple minis of individual bush clumps and the way the afternoon light's hitting them.

So a thumbnail can quite often be visited more than once for totally different sized paintings and subjects over many years even. I also have some that still evoke such a sense of place that I'm challenged all over again to try them in pastel even though I did them years ago in oils. My point being that one should never dump thumbnails sketches in the trash just because you've used them once -- they can yield new treasure in future, as well! I'd call that a very good investment of the few minutes it takes to sketch a thumbnail!

Also...(with me, there's always an also! :D) For those who are trying thumbnails for the first time...see if you find, as I do, that a good thumbnail, done on location, doesn't work a far greater magic on your memory than photos of the same place do. It's very odd, but it's as if by distilling the experience of the place into a thumbnail, you often find that you've captured an almost mystical something about the scene that a camera just can't get. Try it!

04-30-2005, 01:53 PM
And here are a couple of little 5x7 color studies of the same subjects. I have some larger paintings as well, but no good photos of them right now.

I LOVE the rich rich colors you got into these color sketches! YUMMY! Would love to see the larger works if you ever photo them!

04-30-2005, 10:57 PM
Dee, Well stated. I am a real stickler for the thumbnails in my workshops.
If you dont know where your going, you may wind up anywhere.
Terry Ludwig :clap:

Paula Ford
04-30-2005, 11:04 PM
TERRY!! Where you been???? So nice to see you!!


05-01-2005, 05:00 AM
sigh - OK Deborah, here are a few thumbs, together with the finished pics, so you can see if I practice what I preach! (no pressure then.......)

this thumb caught the tone values of the scene but had no obvious focal point. So I created one in the finished piece.

this was done very quickly and spontaneously. The owner of the cafe on the right wanted the pic. It wasnt an ideal image, I was painting right outside my gallery and had no choice of subject matter cos I could only work from one spot. Only the end wall was illuminated, it was quite a dark alley. I did the best I could with it, and took a few liberties with the finished pic.


Sadly, I cannot show some of the more successful combinations of pic and thumbnail because all my sketchbooks have gone off to the publisher for photography purposes.

still, these two prove that I do actually do them! Both were done on the spot, not from photos. I started the top on on the spot, using BM Wallis and gouache and a few hard pastels. Then I used various photos , to finish off at home, putting in the people. The cafe scene below was all done on the spot.


05-01-2005, 10:18 AM
Lovely to see, especially the first one!

05-01-2005, 11:17 PM
oh this is fun!! i really like some of the ideas thrown in here--jackies' of not using tiny sketchbooks. i use a 11.x14, but my tn's are usually 2x4 or so, often crooked on the page (dunno why!) and all over, several per page. i do have some tiny books, but somehow feel cramped up in them.

also love the idea of using them later, for a work down the road. i rarely rip mine out, or toss them, simply cuz i like to look back at them. its kinda like a journal, only in pictures. i can look at them, and remember that day, what was going on, or sometimes just how i was feeling that day, maybe not even concerning art, just in general. i so believe how doing them then, could keep places in your mind much better than a photo ever will. great comments all.

Bill Foehringer
05-01-2005, 11:56 PM
I didn't post any more thumbnails but i have been doing them. I did 7 or 8 that I never used. But they gave me insight as to what would work from those vantage points. This was a very good thread!!!! BillF

Deborah Secor
05-02-2005, 12:10 AM
Wow! Jackie, you really came through! Those are great examples. Thanks so much for sharing them with us. :D

I don't rely on teensy sketchbooks all the time either. I just have this bitty one next to the computer. I use a biggie because I'm far too sloppy and all over the place to ever stick to little pages! Plus, I like to compare them so that I can see five or six together at one time. That helps me see the strengths and weaknesses of them, or to compare strengths to each other (or weaknesses--but let's stick to strenghts, okay? :wink2:). That in turn sparks more ideas and I'm off and running.

Does anyone else do short ones and then go longer? I do my 30 second or one minute sketches and then stretch the time up to about 5 minutes as I find a comp I'm interested in doing.

Hey Terry--thanks! Glad you agree... <high five, pastel dust flying>

Anyone else want to share? This has been a good thread. I hope there's more! :wave:


05-02-2005, 07:16 PM
not sure this is the place for this, but here goes anyhoo!

i have been really wanting to improve my drawing, i want to be able to render so well, i get accused of cheating! i was doing something of my daughter, blowing bubbles. i had sketched it out, transferred to canson, began to work. hmm, not good. something was off, just small things, but it doesn't take many of those to make something wind up way wonky!! so i took it off the easel, began again on the sketch (which was on newsprint, and i had saved it). i turned it upside down, seen some problems, but still it was off. as a last ditch effort, i traced my photo, and then took my line-traced image to compare to my bigger sketch--whoa, i could see every tiny ill-made mark! i've now done this again with a horse/cowboy i am doing. again, i can clearly see the place, even the teensy ones, where its off.

other than the fact photos lie, can anyone tell me any problems with doing this? i feel i can overcome some of the camera distortions after the drawing is well on the way. i also think this would work for thumbnails,too? would love to hear imput on this.

Laura Shelley
05-03-2005, 01:14 PM
Jackie, those are very illuminating sketches! I really have a sense of your thought processes comparing the thumbnails to the paintings.

I'm going to post a couple of landscapes I more or less successfully photographed this morning, but I won't hijack the thread. :D So it's going out in the main soft pastels forum...

Paula Ford
05-11-2005, 10:47 PM
Was so tired tonight, but wanted to do a bit of drawing. I just love birds so here are a couple of little bird thumbnails. Was looking at some pictures in one of my art books.


05-13-2005, 12:45 PM
This onth, in the goals thread, I made a pact with myself to actually keep a sketchbook going and to try to sketch every day. Anyway - this sketch was done in preparation for a larger painting of a Lotus Flower:


05-13-2005, 12:51 PM
I like the way this shows your growing understanding of how this flower works...sketches are almost essential for me when it comes to flowers, especially fancy ones. This should make a wonderful near-macro painting!

Deborah Secor
05-13-2005, 08:14 PM
Wow--I've been a bit delinquent here... :eek: :D

I didn't mean to ignore your question, chewie! I guess the only problem I have with tracing is that in the end it didn't help me see better, it just weakened my observational skills. But if it's helping you to see better then I say go for it! Just don't let it take the place of drawing freehand, obviously! I think there's a difference between an excellent drawing and a photographich rendering that's a lot like the difference between live and recorded music. It's the hand of the artist showing, the real risk, the interpretation, that makes a freehand drawing exciting and interesting. You put a little of yourself into it, unlike a copy that is stiffly accurate. You know??? ;)

Paula, the birds are charming! I like the curves in the second one particularly, and the first one has a perkiness to it. Will you paint these??

Looking good, Cory--and thanks for sharing the flower here! I like the repeated rhythms, and the potential for some light and dark contrasts, too. The medium values, where the color often resides (since light colors become bleached and darks lose color), leave a lot of color possiblities for you!

Years ago a friend of mine who painted abstracts suggested that one of the things I needed to do when painting such things as your flower was to pay very close attention to the shapes of the corners. It seemed odd at the time, but it's paid off. For instance, if you look at your sketch you'll notice that both the left side top and bottom corners and the right side top and bottom corners are all one shape:


I noodled with your sketch--hope it's okay :) --to show you how you might reshape the corners. This helps to make them varied in size and shape overall. I usually find that going off the page in at least three places (in this case, on the top, bottom and one side) makes a close-up seem stronger and bolder.


Now, there are a lot of ways to do this and the chances are you've already gone on with more sketches, but I thought I'd share anyway!

Thanks to all of you--I'd love to see more!!


Paula Ford
05-13-2005, 09:06 PM
Paula, the birds are charming! I like the curves in the second one particularly, and the first one has a perkiness to it. Will you paint these??

Thanks Deborah! I'm not sure...kinda down right now. Everything I paint turns to crap. It's like I've never painted before.


Deborah Secor
05-14-2005, 12:16 AM
Paula, been there--done that--even ripped up the tee shirt. But the good news is it won't last and the best thing to do, in my opinion, is paint through it. Or draw through it. So... a few more sketches are in order! I often get out my dog-eared copy of 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain' and do the exercises again. It really helps. Blind contours, vase faces, that sort of thing. Or I do 30 second sketches--lots and lots of them. It shakes things free, somehow. Hang in there, this will pass!


05-14-2005, 01:45 AM
Thanks, Deborah! I actually decided that painting this rectangularly would look off, so went with a square format. I think this will alleviate the corners...I hope... :)

Deborah Secor
05-14-2005, 11:31 AM
Sounds like a good solution, cory. Show us what comes of it!


05-14-2005, 09:48 PM
Thank you Dee for this wonderful lesson and Jackie too for sharing your thumbnails and finished paintings. I'm inspired! I've been taking a little time off and now I've just got to get back to work. The first thing I'm going to do is start with some thumbnails and proceed from there. I'm ready to roll! :wave:

Deborah Secor
05-14-2005, 10:11 PM
Go for it, Judy :wave: --and show us what you do!


06-19-2005, 10:40 AM
My FIRST post!!! :wave:

I've become a believer in "synchronicity" -- that when you need something, it will come along, but you have to be open to seeing it. Well, someone mentioned WC to me off-hand, I checked out the site, and the very first post I see is about Thumbnail sketches and value sketches -- the VERY skill I have been trying to work on lately.

So, here are a few of my recent value sketches. One was done on site, the other two are compositions from photos I took on hiking trips this past year.

Any thoughts / reactions are welcome. And thanks for the opportunity to join your community on WC.


Deborah Secor
06-19-2005, 11:01 AM
Very nice stuff, Paul! Welcome to our community... we in this forum usually work in soft pastel, which is essentially a drawing skill, so the thumbs add a lot to what we do. However, I believe this skill is one any artist needs to develop and I like what I see here. The first page shows some strong essential comps! I like your personal notes, too.

Do you paint? Pastel? Let us know...


06-20-2005, 10:20 AM
Hello, all!

I work primarily in soft pastels. I finished my masters degree 2 years ago and decided to do something nice for my spiritual growth (after working on my clinical skills for 3 years), and wanted to begin painting again. I fell in love with pastel -- the bold sticks of color on the palette, the properties of the media, and the intensity of the finished works. Ironically, I had poor results with pastel 15 years ago in college, and I'm grateful that I rediscovered it. The introduction class I took 2 years ago was bare-bones -- we had 48 sticks of pastel, canson paper, and the occasional reference to Degas (I honestly left the class thinking he was the ONLY pastel artist). After that, I began reading articles, searching the internet, perusing galleries, discovered the Pastel Journal (thus I recognized you, Deborah :wink2: ) and began exploring the medium in greater depth. I've been playing around with a variety of surfaces and different brands of soft pastels -- I just get deeper and deeper into the medium and it's possibilities.
Last month, I took my first professional workshop. It was with Elizabeth Agpar-Smith -- LOVED HER! And she was able to help me to begin overcoming some of the obstacles I've encountered on my own the past 2 years.

Needless to say, I am very excited to have found you all here, and look forward to sharing my artwork with you.

Deborah Secor
06-20-2005, 10:35 AM
Paul, I hope you'll share some of your work in the studio for us all to see. I'm glad you found some surfaces other than Canson and discovered the wealth of wonderful pastels that are out there!! We'd all have instantly sent you off towards softer pastels and Wallis paper anyway...

Your drawings are quite nice. Now let us see some paintings! :)