The value of the THUMBNAIL SKETCH for your painting cannot be underestimated. These little gems are worth their weight in gold!!!!!
The thumbnail sketch will set up your painting's composition, value, color, mood, focal point, light source, and shape.
All of this, in just the time it takes to do a few 3" x 5" sketches. ( or smaller if you wish) Due to their small size, it is easy to test a few different ideas for one painting. These mini sketches in black and white or color have been real time savers for me in painting watercolors. You just cannot scrape the paint off watercolor paper as you would with oils on canvas or hardboard.
Artists, make your life easier and do a thumbnail sketch.
Test your composition. Are your shapes in a pleasing arrangement? Are your design elements in the places where they will reflect your image nicely?
Test your values. Do your darkest darks and lightest lights work well with your middle values? Do they help your eye to travel around or do they make your eye fly off the page?
Test your shapes. Are they too complicated? Do they link together in some way. Are they falling off the page?
Test some of your color choices. Are they too busy? Should you limit your palette?
In a landscape painting, the thumbnail sketch can be valuable to get down the light and dark shapes that may be quickly changing with the light.
Many artists who use thumbnail sketches only do them in black and white. In the painting above, I wanted to add some color to test this option. Thumbnails are not meant to be works of art, but quick GUIDELINES to make your painting flow smoothly.