Friday, June 11, 2010

50 Thumbnails

Sheep Shearing thumbnails
One of six 8 1/2" x 11" pages I filled with drawings

Howard Pyle taught his students that every painting should be preceded by at least fifty thumbnail sketches. His philosophy was that though you may hit on the best design on sketch 23 or 37, or even sketch 2, the real reason to do so many studies is to exhaust all of your options and to make sure that the one you ultimately choose to base the final painting upon is indeed the strongest solution. During my MFA studies, one of our assignments was to utilize this exercise in designing one of our "dream project" paintings. Admittedly, I hardly ever do more than a dozen thumbnail drawings, so this was quite a challenge to come up with fifty distinct designs. Despite drawing and designing for several hours, I was short of fifty when class rolled around the next morning. I sketched away during the beginning of class and hit on a design I liked at number 50. Looking back, I could easily turn several of these thumbnail drawings into paintings, but at the time it was a revelation to understand why Pyle so strongly advocated fifty drawings. Next post: Drawing number 51.

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