When you receive this, I will have finished participating in the ICAN Pastel Conference Paint-Around! As I write this, however, the event is still in the future. In preparation, I needed to decide on an image and to help with this decision, I turned to creating thumbnails of a number of photos.
Two things I needed to keep in mind as I collected possible images: the allotted painting time of only ONE hour and also the size we were going to work on – 16 x 20 in. The size is larger than my usual 9 x 12 that I use to paint outdoors for approximately the same time. Hmmmm- lots of paper to fill!
I wanted to focus on thumbnails for this post as I believe they are soooo useful and I know that some people don’t do them ever before painting (gasp!). Here’s what thumbnails do for me:
- They help me become familiar with a subject in a tactile way (not just in my head)
- They also give me the chance to simplify a scene into big shapes which makes painting so much easier
- Thumbnails allow me to sort out different compositions, to try out the scene in different ways and distances – far away or closer, vertical or horizontal
- And thumbnails are most useful for deciding on a three-value pattern.
All this gives me a template or roadmap from which to work and to which I continually refer as I paint. It grounds me when I begin losing my way.
So let me share the thumbnails I created as I sifted through images, culling complex and detailed ones for simpler, bolder designs.
Here’s the full sheet of thumbnails I did:
Let’s look at them more closely.
And so it was time to try out a couple of colour studies (or colour thumbnails). I decided to do this as I felt I needed to be prepared to launch into the painting quickly, with no hesitation. This felt like doing a practice run even though these studies are only 5 x 4 in.
First the scene sketched up on a scrap piece of UART 800 grade sanded paper. This is their smoothest surface and one I never work on. I chose it because we’ll be working on UART 600, the next smoothest paper, and so I wanted to try something comparable. (The UART grade I generally use is 320 or 400 – much grittier than 600 or 800.)
I forgot to photograph the first layer of pastels in the first study but the colours I used were a dark blue violet, a mid-value blue, and a yellow for the light value. I’m using pastels from my travelling set – mainly Unison with a few Mount Vision and Great Americans thrown in.
Here is the first colour study with two layers:
And the second colour study showing the first layer of the three main value areas. The photo below shows it with two layers.
Here are the two pastels together so you can see the subtle difference that comes from using a different colour underlayer. I didn’t stay with exactly the same colours in the second layer but close enough. I think I’ll use the second option and so I’ll note those first tree colours.
And now I’ll leave the writing of the blog until Tuesday when I’ll have the finished piece to show you!!
Well that was intense and FUN! And really, all the paintings turned out well, considering they’d been through the hands of various artists with different styles and approaches.
So here is a few minutes after the start and then the end of my painting after 15 mins. Time to pass it on! (Apologies for the quality of the photos.)
We each then worked on another pastel for 10 mins, passed that on, and other for 10 mins, passed that on, and then one more for 10 mins, and then mine was back.
Here’s what it looked like when I got it back 🙂
The first 15 mins felt very slow, the last went VERY fast. So much still to do! I forgot to take a photo of the final piece but I cropped this image from one of the four of us. Can you see the changes I made? There is so much I would like to have done but the timer went down and it was, “Pastels down!”
Each painting is signed by all four artists and then they are up for silent auction until Friday. Bid starts at $250. Happily when I went by this afternoon, there was a bid on mine!
Here we all are with our paintings …
And the not-so-serious!
So what do you think about doing thumbnails? If you don’t do them have I convinced you that it might be a good idea to try doing them? I’d LOVE to hear from you!
All for now. Gotta go prep for my workshops!
PS. If you’re on Instagram, come on over to howtopastelwithgail and checkout my Stories – they’ll be covering the ICAN conference!
PPS. Messy but colourful fingers!!
PPPS. Yay for me! I won an Honourable Mention Award at the accompanying PAC exhibition. An unexpected and wonderful surprise!!