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Sept. 22: Columbia City

Friday, May 29, 2020

Theme of the Week: Thumbnails!

I use thumbnails is several different ways.

Most often I use them to help me figure out exactly what I want to focus on in a scene. So often in urban sketching we are confronted with a busy urban scene and it can be hard to hone in on something specific. So I like to play around with different aspects of the location to determine what would make a good larger sketch as in this series of thumbnails I did while in Oaxaca Mexico. I did the smaller thumbnails first then the larger drawing of the church.

Another situation where I use thumbnails is to understand value in a scene. Often I see color before I see value. If I do a black and white thumbnail, especially if I use pencil or gray marker to fill in value, I can end up with a stronger sketch.

A third, and less common, way I use thumbnails is just to understand the layers of a scene – foreground, middle ground, background. Where do things in the scene fall? What is closer? What is farther away? This gives me a pathway as I set up a sketch or painting so I’m familiar with what goes where. I use this more in planting a larger painting.

Sometimes I use thumbnails to try out different color combinations.

The four situations above are ways to familiarize myself with the scene. They warm me up and help me find my bearings on the page.

The fifth way is thumbnails as minis, finished sketches, just small.

Try it out! It's easy, quick and low risk. 

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