For me, sketch development follows from the thumbnails, but that’s not part of this post…
In school, I was taught that when faced with a job, ie a work that needs to be given birth to and developed to finishing, thumbnails are where you start. In the Commercial Art industry, this is an absolute necessity. Come up with a number of undeveloped, or partially developed, ideas, present them to the powers that be – one is chosen and you work from there. The rest are for the round file, or the slush pit for future and potential use.
The result? Only one idea out of a half-dozen come to completion.
My practice in these days shows a much different ratio. Normally it begins near the end of a painting cycle. Finishing up a group of paintings, I put in an order for more canvasses – maybe 9 or a dozen. Then I break out the paper – scraps they are, maybe 4X6 inches. I start drawing, and the ideas flow until a couple of hours have passed and I have what I need and want with maybe 1 or two extra.
This is where things are different for me now. Instead of 1 drawing/sketch/thumbnail out of six being usable – all of them are! This is the nature of painting spec pieces. I choose the image I want to paint and paint it the way I want. So, let’s say a dozen canvasses and a dozen sketches – all good to go with nothing for the trash!
As an aside – commission work is a different beast which I’ll do another post on another time, but for now, I’m talking about free-painting.
The down side? Yes, there is a bit of one – sometimes a finished painting is not what I had hope it would be, and it gets stuck in the corner of my studio, only glanced at on occasion as a lesson of some sort. One might say that this one failure to meet my own standards could have been avoided if I wasn’t so indiscreet, or cavalier, with my intentions. One could say I could have saved a lot of time, effort and materials if I had been more deliberate, but this one failure out of twelve that will never been seen by the public isn’t so bad considering my pleasure with the other eleven paintings.