Giant Thumbnail Sketches

October 10, 2009

Using your visual journal to make thumbnail sketches for paintings.

Above: A page spread in my last journal which is really just a giant thumbnail sketch. (Journal is made of Gutenberg paper and is approx. 6 x 8 inches.) Read below for more information.

Journals are great places for working out ideas. You can even think of your journal spread as a giant thumbnail sketch, fiddling with placement of subject matter, experimenting with background material. Turn the page and start over! It's the quickest screen refresh there is.

On this spread I played around reinterpretting some of my State Fair Sketches of Bantams from past years. I used a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen to sketch quickly on the page and then splashed on some gouache, to give an indication of color I would likely use. The background on this page had already been painted with FW Acrylic inks: Raw Sienna, splattered with Purple Lake while the former was still a bit moist. The painted band area had been masked off with masking tape before painting. (There is some green paint leaking onto this page from the sewing holes at the gutter. The first head was positioned to cover most of that.) The strip of text is from a mystery book and was placed on the spread at the same time the background was painted.

Typically when I do something like this I'll do several page spreads, changing the arrangement of the subject. It becomes even more like doing a large thumbnail sketch when you do that. However this time I had a date with a friend and had to get rolling. And I actually like this arrangement and am going to make a painting along these lines.

Jump in and use your journal for exploring visual ideas. Don't worry about a perfect result. Get something down on paper that you can respond to and work with—something that will get you to a final piece, or a series of final pieces.

  1. Reply

    Great concept, Roz!

  2. Reply

    Oh good, you are still here. These are fabulous!

  3. Reply

    Enjoyed this (even as I know it will be nearly impossible to play around and not care about the results) in my journal. As you continue on the bountiful bashing of visual journal myths, could you explore the myth that all the journals we use must be the same size/kind/shape? I’m positive it’s why Moleskine is doing so well. (I know it’s where I’m trapped….)

    • Roz
    • October 10, 2009

    Donna, you made me laugh. Yep I’m still here. I just spent 8 hours standing up (sat down for 30 minutes for lunch) teaching and of course I’m back at the computer working on a post!

    • Roz
    • October 10, 2009

    carolbonomo, this is very interesting! Because I make my own books, and constantly change sizes and format based on the paper I’m using and my effort to avoid wasted paper, I’m not in this mode of similar/same books. But there are lots of folks who do love that same book over and over. I will have to think about this a bit. I have something to say about it from both perspectives. The first 2 1/2 years of the Daily Dots were actually in identical sketchbooks and it’s fun to see them as a cluster of 21 books on the shelf together. Though at one point I couldn’t get squares and had two landscapes in there, but still the same book and fabric. They were purchased journals from Michael Rogers. Then I just started binding all my own books in part because I couldn’t get this book any more. Well once you open that Pandora’s box, there’s no getting everything back in!

    So I can see both sides to that issue. I’ll put my thinking cap on.

    Moleskine is doing well because Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin used them, and well they must be good then right? Who better to help you face the blank page than Hemingway.

    • Christina Trevino.
    • October 10, 2009

    Roz, I like how you paint backgrounds, like this one, and then just sketch . It always integrates so nicely. I went back to see more of your backgrounds, and the different effects on the finished page.
    Maybe some day I’ll become a sketcher.

    • Roz
    • October 11, 2009

    Christina, thanks I’m glad you are enjoying them. You know, you can start sketching any time! Go on.

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