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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Three Good Reasons to do Your Thumbnails

'A Beautiful Life'         8x10      pastel      ©Karen Margulis
available $145
It is friendly reminder day! Maybe you have been very good and consistently do thumbnails or small value studies before painting. Or maybe you are like me and often skip this important step.  I don't know why I don't make it a part of my studio painting routine. I do thumbnails for plein air and I know they help.  As I shared the importance of doing black and white thumbnails with a student it reminded me just how much they do help!

I use an index card and mat board frame for my thumbnails

Remember to take the time for thumbnails. They don't take long and it will be worth the effort. Here are three reasons:

A simple 4 value thumbnail 

1.  Thumbnails save you time and paper.  It is much better to figure out if your composition will work in a quick study than to waste good paper making corrections to a composition with issues. In my thumbnail (above) I saw immediately that the mountain shape was the same as the shape of the treeline. I also didn't like the shape of the water. I made adjustments when I blocked in the painting.

2. Thumbnails help us simplify a busy reference. My photo was filled with lots of bushes and trees...lots of spots of light and dark. The black and white thumbnail allowed me to simplify the busy stuff into a few bigger simple shapes.

3. Thumbnails make you a better artist. Doing thumbnails is like doing pushups....they make you a stronger painter. They are  exercises that gradually build your ability to see value and shapes and what makes a good design.  Thumbnails add up...so don't neglect them!

If you would like to explore more about doing thumbnails and a method for using them you might like to read my thumbnail posts here:
Five Steps to a Good Thumbnail
How to Make Thumbnail Studies Fun


Vanessa said...

I often underestimate the value of notans. I've found that if I take the time to do it they can certainly save me headaches later on as I can identify adjustments/departures from the reference picture to help give the painting more strength. Like you, I haven't quite made it a habit yet but working towards it.

Resa Grogan said...

Those final touches to your class painting are wonderful and I see the "spice"! Thank you for a great lesson today.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen! Do you still recommend using Prismacolour chisel end Markers? If Yes, would you recommend the warm or cool set of 12? Thank you!

Karen said...

I like the Prismacolor markers. You don't really need 12 so if it is an option to order open stock I would choose 3 values of either warm or cool but not mixed. I prefer warm.