Thursday, February 10, 2011

All thumbs

My sketchbook is filled with words, sketches, notes from books, notes from classes and lectures, incidentals, ideas, feeling words, starts of poems, and thumbnails.

I've been following blogger Barbara Newton and her exploration and use of thumbnails as a part of her painting process. You can read about her thumbs here.

Loriann Signori
uses thumbnails regularly, but lately in a new way as she explores memory work. See her thumbs here.

I like the brevity of thumbnails. By necessity they have just enough information about the shapes and value to give a good idea about what's going on in a scene. In my thumbnails above, I have done many of them from life, but several of them from photographs. Photos can lead me astray with all of their precise information, but I'm beginning to try on the idea that I can reduce a photo to a thumbnail and then paint from my thumbnail to become a more expressive and painterly painter. We'll see.

Ideas are like shoes. Until you try them on and walk around in them for a bit, you don't know if you should buy them and take them home.

Do you use thumbnail sketches?


SamArtDog said...

Yup. But the pages in my sketchbook aren't like yours. Your thumbs (this makes me laugh) are so different one to the next. I tend to keep trying the same idea ad nauseum. I need to remember it's not a whole hand, just a thumb!

William Cook said...

The idea of doing a thumbnail of a snapshot (or many) and then making a larger painting from the thumbnail is very cool. It blows away all detail, leaving you with a basic natural visual to explore. It's kind of like being there, but in a more vague, dreamier way.

It also seems like a good way to plow through a lot of less than great ideas to get to the really great idea.

I've been reading both Barbara's and Loriann's blogs and have also taken note of their use of color thumnails. Very cool artists.

My approach is similar but I havn't used thumbnails much. Sometimes I just paint right on the snapshot.

That Calla Lilly is an exceptional composition, and I've been truely enjoying your work. Thanks.


Jan Yates, SCA said...

A few years ago a friend lent me a beautiful book about Bonnard-along with his images it also depicted his thumbnails---drawn ideas on his dily calendar squares !~--I was so inspired i have 2 calendars--1 for left brain business and one for idea sketches..not saying i use it every day but i do use it..and i really like seeing the drawings juxtaposed with the month's numbers.

Thanks again for sharing

Carrie H. said...

Thumbnails are a great way to remind you of your original vision when painting outside - keeps one from chasing the light.
I think it's even more important when working up to a better composition or building a series - searching out all the possibilities; lots faster in 2 by 4 inch sketches than 8 x 10s.

Celeste Bergin said...

Hi Katherine! I was a graphic designer for about 15 years and every single project (bar none) began with a thumbnail. When I started fine arts I did not use thumbnails and I think my work suffered for it. I am back to thinking things through thoroughly before I put brush to paper. I mostly do not subscribe to the "intuition" or groping type of, to answer your question, yes, I use thumbnails and often I will do a color sketch prior to painting. (Often, not 100%, but often).
Good post, thanks for the glimpse at your landscape ideas.