WetCanvas
Home Member Services Content Areas Tools Info Center WC Partners Shop Help
Channels:
Search for:
in:

Welcome to the WetCanvas forums. You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions, articles and access our other FREE features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload your own photos and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please visit our help center.

Go Back   WetCanvas > Explore Media > Pastels > Soft Pastel Learning Center
User Name
Password
Register Mark Forums Read

Salute to our Partners
WC! Sponsors

Our Sponsors
 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-10-2005, 04:46 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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!

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #2   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-11-2005, 03:57 PM
Khadres's Avatar
Khadres Khadres is offline
A Local Legend
Colorado Springs -- Pikes Peak Country!!
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,733
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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!

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.?
__________________
Sooz
__________
The Bay Window Gang -- Our very own Neighborhood Watch team!

___________

"Real learning comes quietly, unannounced, without a parade." Elizabeth Mowry

Last edited by Khadres : 04-11-2005 at 04:01 PM.
  #3   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-11-2005, 06:11 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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!

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #4   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-11-2005, 10:46 PM
Muffin_4377's Avatar
Muffin_4377 Muffin_4377 is offline
Veteran Member
"The 50"
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 633
 
Hails from Canada
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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...
__________________
Dania
"You thought I couldn't, but I could, I DID.....AND I could do it again!!!" - Lisa Simpson
"GO Crazy?......Don't mind if I DO!!!!"
  #5   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-12-2005, 05:16 AM
ann.bun ann.bun is offline
Senior Member
Northern Ireland
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 162
 
Hails from United Kingdom
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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.
Attached Images
  
  #6   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-12-2005, 10:48 AM
chewie's Avatar
chewie chewie is offline
A WetCanvas! Patron Saint
homestead in south dakota
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 3,124
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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!

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!
__________________

A rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least.
--- "Interview with God" (author unknown)

]
  #7   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-12-2005, 06:40 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog

Last edited by Deborah Secor : 04-12-2005 at 06:51 PM. Reason: pushed the 'post' button too soon! LOL
  #8   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-12-2005, 06:47 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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.

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog

Last edited by Deborah Secor : 04-12-2005 at 06:49 PM.
  #9   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-13-2005, 12:57 PM
bnoonan's Avatar
bnoonan bnoonan is offline
A WC! Legend
Seattle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 10,603
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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

__________________
Do what you love, love what you do!

www.MorninNoonanNight.com
  #10   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-13-2005, 04:53 PM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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.

Deborah
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog
  #11   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-13-2005, 07:08 PM
bnoonan's Avatar
bnoonan bnoonan is offline
A WC! Legend
Seattle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 10,603
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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
__________________
Do what you love, love what you do!

www.MorninNoonanNight.com
  #12   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-18-2005, 02:14 PM
Nancy Leone's Avatar
Nancy Leone Nancy Leone is offline
Enthusiast
Provincetown, Massachusetts
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,046
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

Deborah,
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!



__________________
Nancy
My pastel blog:http://poucherpastels.blogspot.com/
My website:http://www.nancypoucher.com
  #13   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-19-2005, 12:15 AM
Bill Foehringer's Avatar
Bill Foehringer Bill Foehringer is offline
A WetCanvas! Patron Saint
Arizona
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 3,251
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

Today's thumbnail and it's offspring. I did this at lunch today. "Creek and Willow", Pastel 7x5 on Wallis BillF
Attached Images
  
  #14   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-19-2005, 09:21 AM
Deborah Secor's Avatar
Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
A WC! Legend
Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 16,112
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

Nancy, great little sketches! 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?

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...

Deborah
Attached Images
     
__________________
Deborah
"All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Landscape Painting in Pastels (free online book)
Gouache Blog

Last edited by Deborah Secor : 04-19-2005 at 09:23 AM.
  #15   Report Bad Post  
Old 04-19-2005, 12:56 PM
Laura Shelley Laura Shelley is offline
Veteran Member
California
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 712
 
Hails from United States
Re: ESP April 2005--composition 2-thumbnails

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.
Attached Images
     

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:56 AM.


© 2014 F+W All rights reserved.