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Friday, January 05, 2018

The Value of Value Thumbnails

'The Music of the Marsh'         8x10        pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $145
 It was my first painting of 2018 and I decided to return to the marsh.....one of my favorite subjects to paint. As I looked at my selected reference photo I was ready to jump right in but then I reminded myself of the value and importance of doing a quick value thumbnail. With a strong thumbnail I will be able to paint this marsh with more expression and allow my intuition to take over....in other words a value thumbnail will help me get into the 'zone' and that is where the fun begins!

I never really liked doing thumbnails. I felt like they slowed me down and killed the spontaneity. But that is because I wasn't doing them in the most effective way. I was doing small detailed sketches. They were nice in their  own way but they were just nice sketches. The may have helped me somewhat with composition but ultimately they were set aside and quickly forgotten once the painting began.

Using a value thumbnail to start my painting
 Now I am am a firm believer in the value of doing value thumbnails. That is because now I actually USE them to start my paintings.

  • They are not small sketches rather they are value MAPS. I simplify my subject into a few big shapes and assigned each shape a value. 
  • I use a limited value range of 2 to 4 values. (2 values is know as a Notan)
  • I use value markers or any tool that allows me to get solid coverage. 
  •  I use these maps to help me block in the  painting. 
  • This is my foundation. I can now let go and play and build my painting on this strong foundation.

My favorite tools for thumbnails
For today's marsh painting I chose a four value block in using different values of yellow. I wanted the yellow glow under the green grasses and in the sky. I used a piece of 400 grade Uart paper and Terry Ludwig pastels. I am planning to reuse this thumbnail to create a series of marsh paintings. Stay tuned for more!

What's happening on Patreon? 
We are spending the month exploring VALUE over on my patreon page. If you would like detailed instructions for doing these value thumbnails you can check out the page for $4. It is a monthly subscription but you can cancel at any time. www.patreon.com/karenmargulis

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Great lesson. I like doing value thumbnails too when I'm planning a painting. It helps a lot and they're fast. love that little Borden & Riley ATC size sketchbook too. I have a few of those but Blick stopped carrying them, which got frustrating. I don't know if they're still available or got discontinued by the manufacturer.