Thumbnail to Final Collage: Lessons from Polly Hammett's DVD

Submitted by: Kelly Powers 04-04-2012 |

Polly Hammett's Design with the Figure, has been a focus for here for the month of March. (It's April you say? Oops! :) And one of the main goals of Hammett's Creative DVD workshop is to strengthen our relationship with value. Understanding value is key to becoming a better artist. Value is the hidden secret to making great art.

What I love about Polly Hammett's watercolor DVD workshop is that it approaches value it in an easy to understand way, and she does this with thumbnails. Thumbnails are a great way to be able to focus on value specifically.

I'm trying to learn how to collage, so I wanted to use Hammett's valuable value lessons and translate them into the art I'm doing. So first I created a few thumbnails. Making thumbnails is a way to focus on aspects of a piece that aren't color. Like artist Micah Billet Neff wrote on the Creative Catalyst Facebook page, "I am not a person who enjoys thumbnail sketches at all. Am very haphazard about them BUT.....I did learn a lesson from doing these. Found myself actually paying attention to shapes, sizes and the values inter-playing between them."



When I created my Polly Hammett-inspired value studies I did three. I could probably spend all day doing these things. Like Neff wrote, they really do help me pay attention to things like shapes and sizes. I did them with pen, and there is nothing fancy about them. I decided to go with the second one in.

Once I started I realized that I have a really hard time making light papers. Also I have a hard time making dark papers. I did my best, but I had to keep adding white glaze to my light back ground squares. I got them as light as possible before, yes, giving up a bit and continuing on.


When I compare my value study to my final piece, I feel pretty good about translating the values from sketch to painting. In Polly Hammett's DVD, she shows painted thumbnails she's created of the same value study painted a few different ways. It's amazing how much difference it makes, and I think the next way I'll use this DVD is to take the absolute same value study and translate it into a painting using different colors of paper. That will give me more time to perfect my lighter papers and also begin to explore color.


Learn more about Polly Hammett and her excellent watercolor DVD workshop, Design with the Figure.