Sunday, 8 June 2014

Castle Cove - Thumbnail Sketches

Castle Cove
Watercolour and Acrylic Ink on Paper
7cm x 10cm (3" x 4")

At the last meeting of the Shelford Group of Artists (see Into the Light), I considered painting a view of Castle Cove in Dartmouth. I decided against it because I realised the picture would require a strong composition – a composition I was unlikely to get right first time.

Castle Cove, Dartmouth

Since the meeting, I’ve used thumbnail sketches to work on a composition – inspired by a recent article by John Lovett on his online watercolour workshop (see

Thumbnails are small quick sketches. The sketches on this post are all about 7cm x 10cm (3" x 4"). John advises spending no more than a couple of minutes on each drawing.

Castle Cove, Pencil Thumbnails

John advocates thumbnail sketches as a technique for deciding on the tonal and colour composition for a picture work before committing your ideas to watercolour paper.

They are also fun to do and a great way to become more familiar with a subject which you haven’t sketched and are drawing from photographs.

Castle Cove, Coloured Thumbnails

John suggests using pencil sketches to decide on the tonal composition and coloured sketches to establish the colour palette.

Castle Cove - Initial Wash
Watercolour on Paper
24cm x 34cm (9.5" x 13.5")

This is the resulting composition transferred to watercolour paper with the initial wash in the sky and the sea.

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