Thumbnail sketches have not been a common practice with me.I have always been too eager to jump right into painting relying on my photo reference or even the plein air scene in front of me to generate the composition and ideas. However, recently I have started a new habit that not only keeps me tuned into my creative side while I am at work but also helps me formulate concepts that make my work more personal.
Every year, especially at this time of year, you can find these small checkbook size calendars or daytimers. I discarded the calendar and folded some scrap paper (roughly 5 3/4"x6 1/2") and stapled the center. Sliding them into the calendar cover, I have my own thumbnail sketch book. The ideas flow out during the day and only take about 60 seconds. Then when I get home, I pick which ones I want to develop further into color sketches, like the thumbnail of the ship.
I have no idea or what a schooner actually looks like other than it has sails. I don't have reference for details of the boat or the sea but I have my imagination. So relying on that, I am developing the concept " ship at sea, rough water" I started by reusing an old daily painting canvas board that I covered over with a gray green mix. I originally thought of a night scene but I must have waited too long because by the time I got to adding some color...
The sun was breaking through the clouds on the horizon.
I am sticking with a very limited palette to ensure my colors harmonize.
I also wanted to stay away from white. The details may not be correct, that doesn't matter. It's the feeling and idea that you want to capture.