Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Read This if You Don't Like Doing Thumbnails!

'Where the Poppies Grow'           8x10          pastel      ©Karen Margulis
click here to purchase $125
We know doing thumbnails before painting is a good habit. But we don't always do them.  I am the first to admit it.....I don't usually do them although I know better.  I have heard the excuses....take too long, too impatient to get painting, interferes with spontaneity, don't see how they help.


That's a biggie....if you can't see how they are helping then of course it seems a waste of time to do them.  It also helps if you are going about them in an efficient way (more on that tomorrow) But first let's remind ourselves why doing thumbnails are good for us. And I am talking about doing small quick black and white studies....no detail, just big shapes in 3-4 values.

My reference photo with the black and white thumbnail 


  • Thumbnails help warm us up.   We wouldn't go for a run or play tennis with out stretching and warming up your muscles.  We wouldn't go on stage to perform or play an instrument with out a warm up.....So why is painting any different?  Shouldn't we warm up our painting muscles before tackling a painting?  Shouldn't we turn our focus and our powers of observation to our subject and think about the plan for painting it?   Doing a thumbnail sketch helps us do all these things.
  • Thumbnails help us design better paintings.  By working small we are better able to see our design. Working in black and white helps us see the design in more simple form without the distraction of color.
  • Thumbnails help us work out potential problems and give us options. Doing several small thumbnails can help us evaluate our reference and solve problems before be get too far into the painting process.
  • Thumbnails save us money!  By working out composition and potential problems on a small scale with sketch paper and markers or pens we don't waste our good paper and pastels on poor designs.

Whether or not I have been convincing you will want to come back tomorrow when I will share a very handy step by step plan for doing effective black and white thumbnails!



4 comments:

Donna T said...

Great points, Karen! "Design first, Color later" gives me the best chance of success.

Sarah S said...

Always a fantastic reminder, planning first saves much time correcting later on!

Anonymous said...

this is good stuff, will be waiting anxiously for the next post on thumbnails! thank you

pattisjarrett said...

Thanks, Karen. I really appreciate all the effort you put into helping us be successful with our pastels.