Thursday, February 3, 2011

The way back

You know I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I was stalled in my 100 painting project and was looking for a way to get back into it again. Because it is a project that I would like to see through to its completion. So anyway, about a week ago I was visiting the blogs of some of my favorite artists and I came across this post and this post on Barbara Newton's blog, Barbara Newton Art Journal. I have long admired her pastel landscapes and was fascinated when she explained her method of doing thumbnails to jump start her painting process.

Now, I have always known that doing thumbnails is a good idea, for working out things like composition and maybe even color relationships. It's just that I hardly ever do them. I do use my camera as an extension of my sketchbook, and tend to make a lot of adjustments in Photoshop to the images that I ultimately use as reference. And as a result I tend to skip the actual drawing of a thumbnail step. Which works okay, except that when working from a photo I can sometimes get all caught up in the details and lose sight of some of the qualities that attracted me to the image in the first place. So when I saw Barbara's post, it was an "Aha" moment for me. This may be just the approach I need to get back into my painting project and move it forward.

I opened one of my picture files, sat in front of my computer screen and scribbled with my Neocolor II water soluble crayons into six boxes I had drawn onto watercolor paper. I did these very quickly, wanting to only get my initial reaction to the images. Then I took the page to my drawing table and brushed on water, adding more color here and there, without looking at the original references. I was just reacting to what was already on the paper. Once it dried, I scanned my thumbnail page (shown above) and created a copy in grayscale (shown below).
Here you can see my first two attempts of painting directly from my thumbnails, as well as the original thumbnail page and the grayscale copy for value reference. I did make my thumbnails a bit larger than Barbara Newton's. After I try a couple more paintings from this set I would like to attempt this process again, making the thumbnails much smaller, in order to distill the imagery even further. It's a way back into painting with a process that may just work for me. I still have three more previously completed paintings to post before I get to this new group, but I'll keep you posted on how this method is working out.

12 comments:

Katherine Thomas said...

What a fun project! I'm going to keep checking! Those colors are wonderful. So fresh and clean looking. And you know I have new love for the more dreamy, flowing together look... Very pretty!

Linda T said...

Ooh, great idea. I tend to skip the planning stages too but am trying to fix that bad habit. I'll be interested to hear how it all works out for you.

AutumnLeaves said...

One of my books or one of my past instructors (I forget which) always championed this process too. I have zero patience and never put it to the test. Still and yet, both the thumbnails and the two pieces that have sprung from them are beautiful, Ann. Truly gorgeous and I personally think that thumbnail page is frameable!

Cathy Holtom said...

These look great. I often use thumbnail sketches before I start a bigger painting just so I can see if it works before I invest the time!

Elza said...

Even your thumbnails are good enough to be given a special place on the wall. Such fresh and vibrant colours!

Valley Art Project said...

I live near the Blue Ridge. There are alot of beautiful places to paint and draw. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful works with us!

nanke's stuff said...

Yep, like you I almost never do thumbnails, even though I know better. Thanks for the reminder - I think it would be a great idea to get going again if I find myself in another slump! nancy

Dan Kent said...

I have been working on a painting on canvas - unusual for me. Hopefully it will become more common. And I had all kinds of photo references. My first good day was when I threw all of the photo references aside and really looked at the piece, and played with it. It's not there yet, but much improved although I could ruin it next time. :)

raena said...

It is so awesome to see this technique in action like this! Even your thumbnails look great!

debra morris said...

Great post Ann, thanks for sharing...The paintings are looking great, well done for being over halfway on your project

Ann said...

Thank you all for your visits and encouraging comments!

Deborah said...

This is brilliant! Makes me want to go do this right away. Alas, I can't seem to muster up the energy just now. Perhaps I'll have a cup of coffee and try it anyway.

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin