thumbnails & challenges

Friday, February 17, 2012

Flo's Pitcher No.1 - 9 x 12 - mixed media collage drawing - Susan Black

I am a lover of the thumbnail sketch. Now this wasn't always so - I'm a fairly recent convert. Way, way back in time, in the days before computers. Oh, oh we just lost a few readers - she's talking about ancient times again. I know it totally blows my nephew's mind when I use that phrase before computers & god forbid I utter before we had internet. Huh !?! How could there be a time before it ??? I ask myself the same question daily. Lucky us. Well, there was a time & I do remember it. The idea with these quick, small sketchy drawings is to flush out as many ideas & concepts as possible without putting out a lot of time & effort. Brainstorming with a pen. In the beginning I found it really hard, your mind tends to want to land on one idea & of course once you've landed there you really want to go with it. The other snag is until you become confident in your loose drawing/sketching skills it can be a bit of a bummer. I know for years I really wanted my thumbnails to be pretty, to be tight, concise & practically miniature versions of a much more finished idea - which kinda defeats the whole purpose.

In the past few years, as I've been working on developing my own style of illustration, I've really gotten the hang of drawing thumbnails. I love them. In fact I love how they look just as they are. Quirky, loose & free. Many, many of my best ideas have started this way - just a teeny 2.5 inch high very quick sketch in my journal or day-planner.

This new collage drawing's composition followed the thumbnail almost exactly. Even though I'm quite pleased with the final piece it's not at all the vision I had in my head. The picture I had was something much more delicate, softer, pretty even & with a more pastel & muted palette. My challenge for today is using the same enlarged thumbnail to see if I can create another version with a completely different feel - I may do several different versions from this one thumbnail.

Watching/listening to back to back episodes (on youtube) of the Rachel Zoe Project - love her !!!

Enlarged thumbnail from les sketch-journal-rant-whine-list-dream-plan-(everything) book

Flo's pitcher No. 2 - line drawing with 0.1 drawing pen - stage 1 - Susan Black

Flo's pitcher No. 2A - with gouache & ink - stage 2 - Susan Black


  1. god love thumbnails! where would we be w/o them? good work, my old-school sister! xo n

  2. thanks sweet n.
    xoxox happy weekend

  3. that is so very beautiful! This could be your "ode to thumbnails" post. On one of my moose silhouette chalkboards in my Studio it says "welcome to life *BC" *before computers, (a little letterpress joke)
    tail wags,

  4. hey Moose it is really an "ode to" I think drawing thumbnails is a super useful tool & in so many ways - stay tuned woof! keep me posted on your branding please ;-)

  5. That's awesome - seeing the progress from sketch to completion.

  6. I make sculptures, often in relief form, and usually start off with a collection of charcoal thumbnails, with white crayon for highlights and a paynes grey wash on top. They really help in working out proportions. I keep them all, in paper folders according to the theme I am working on.
    It took me years to find a system that worked, though!

  7. Wishing you had a blog Veg Artist we'd love to see both your thumbnails & your sculpture pieces xo s + gang

  8. my thumbnails look like thumbnails....yours look like mini artworks.

  9. just amazing to see your creative process! i cannot believe you get such detail into a thumbnail! LOVE the finished piece :)

  10. are an amazing creator... Thumbnails, yes!! I am always doing and talking about thumbnails and my husband thinks I'm crazy..I don't care.. they work..
    and there are many times when i yearn for those "before the computer" days to be back again... I accomplished so much more back then...

  11. Lovely. You are so very talented.


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