Creative Musings

3 Oct 2014


Not the sort at the end of your hand!

Thumbnails in the art world are sketches or drawings that are quick linier interpretations of the subject matter. They are an extremely useful prep tool that assists fine-tuning composition and design for the artist’s final piece. Thumbnails are quick mini sketches without corrections, usually rough with minimum details in various shapes and sizes. Think of them as focused doodles; a creative warm-up that allows the artist time to closely observe the subject as a whole and helps bring focus on isolated areas. Fill several pages with thumbnails the more the merrier.

Thumbnail II       Thumbnail I

Thumbnail IIIThumbnail IVThumbnail V

Explore the unusual as you refine your thumbnails, be selective in what to include and what to leave out. This process of development with your thumbnails will help your work to evolve. Before jumping into the larger piece carry out smaller A5 or A4 coloured sample works on a support surface of your choice.

Coloured Thumbnail IColoured Thumbnail II

Arriving at the blank surface for a large piece you are now armed with knowledge of the subject’s form, tonal values and composition. Time invested in developing your theme through thumbnails pays dividends at this stage of your creative process.

Tea or Coffee?

‘Tea or Coffee?’ Acrylic on Board 60x45cms SOLD

Thumbnail sketches are used in class as a means of taking a seed of an idea and developing it into a larger piece. During the balmy Indian Summer junior students had the opportunity to have lessons outdoors and explore a 1920’s garden. Some interesting compositions for the students thumbnail sketches were discovered using the natural viewfinder of thumbs and forefingers.

Natural Viewfinder

A garden treasure hunt followed as students sought out the most interesting views

hard at work  Thumbnail progress 2  Thumbnal in Progress                         Thumbnail workConcentration


The Autumn sunshine was enjoyed as sketch books were filled with an interesting array of compositions.

Thumbnail complete IThumbnail progressThumbnail Complete II            

I would love to hear from you; what are your thoughts or opinions on thumbnail sketches as part of your creative process?