When I work with my students, and when I'm on my game, I make thumbnail sketches as preliminary designs for my paintings. Sometimes the thumbnail sketches are simple, usually with some indications of value. I was looking through an older sketchbook and found these sketches, which I used when designing "That's Entertainment" below. I began the painting at our local art festival where I paint out on the street during the day, chatting with the thousands of visitors. For this painting, I left indications of the people and their placement, but took photo reference for the details back in the studio.
Look at Box A, in the picture t0the left. You can see from above, that I considered placing the two foreground figures farther to the right. I moved them left because their orientation and placement left have them looking into the painting instead of out of the painting.
I remember debating whether or not to add the clown and I tried him in sketches for placement either closer to the foreground, or more sublimated under the tent as in Box C rather than in Box B. When I have shown this painting to people over the years, especially children, I have asked if they can find the clown, and use it as an opportunity to discuss design. I designed the painting to lead your eye down to the clown and then to keep moving around. I added the clown to enhance the feeling of "festive" in the painting, because even if you don't see him, you can feel him. Also, I figured that if there was a focus under the tent, it would strengthen the painting's sense of space because the figures are all looking into that space... sort of an interesting idea. I built the space with size, value, interest, color, etc, but also, the people in the painting built the space with their posture.
I also have a sketch for how to handle the trees in Box D.
Just as an aside, I donated this painting as a fundraiser for the arts festival itself. Happily, and interestingly, the winner was the man in the painting in the blue cap.
As always, thanks for looking! I love your comments.