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How I use Thumbnails to Plan my Paintings

One resolution that I started last year was making thumbnails of my portraits in my sketchbook and working out which colours and tools I was going to use to achieve the look I was going for.

My current system starts with taking the original photo and playing around with it in photoshop. For my next commission, my customer has chosen a simple background, so I decided to put a few different filters on the original background then keep the dog in focus, adjust change the colours a little and add a little sharpness to the focal points.

Something I have come to realise about painting is, a lot of your time is spent looking at it and assessing whether you like it or not and what to do next. Keeping this in mind, I lay the paper on my easel for a couple of weeks so I could keep looking at it and see if there was anything I wanted to change. It's 10 days later now and I realise that I don't like the knees in the bottom right hand corner so I have now removed those. Below is the original photo (left) 1st edit on photoshop (middle) and the last photoshop edit (right).

I had some spare oil painting paper in my drawer, so whilst I was waiting for my larger sheets to arrive for the finished painting, I decided to do a physical thumbnail too. It only took me a few minutes. I used quite a limited palette of only 7 colours and a little linseed oil - all by Winsor and Newton. The colours I used were:

winsor red

yellow ochre

naples yellow

sap green

burnt umber

mars black


I'm not sure exactly what the paper was I used as it was gifted to me by a friend (thank you Vincent!) but I know it was by Fabriano Artistico. You can watch me paint this in the video below!

Now all I need to do is paint him !

Wish me luck !

Camile x


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