Small Value Study and Painting
I love doing quick little "thumbnail sketches", and especially like doing them on toned paper with chalk and charcoal as a value study.
A thumbnail sketch is a very small, quick sketch - 2 inches, 2 minutes. The purpose is to get your composition figured out before you even touch your watercolor paper. I start out drawing just the shapes - absolutely no detail. When I get the composition I like, I start working on the values (lights and darks, contrasts).
In class we played around with some thumbnail sketches, transferred the best ones to the brown paper, and worked out the values with the chalk as the lightest value, the paper as the medium, and the charcoal as the darkest. We then transferred our original small sketch to watercolor paper and did little paintings using the value sketch as a guide for our lights and darks.
It was a fun project and made us think about the process of planning a painting. It's hard for people to drop the detail and just do shapes in the step. I like to think of it as brain storming. Kind of like a few people sitting around a table having dinner and someone gets a bright idea and sketches it out on a napkin. No detail there. It's just the very first step toward a finished project.
Looks as if our days of painting out on location are over for the year. We have had high winds with some snow and sleet for a couple of days. It's time to snuggle in and work on compositions, still lifes, and maybe try something new and different. I'll have to give that some thought.