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Developing a New Collection

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Part 2 - Words lead to thumbnails, lead to sketches, colour palettes and painting studies.

In my last post I described to you the process of collecting inspiration from nature and my surroundings in order to use them in my ideas for a new collection.

This week, having collected a few samples of leaves and fruit from my lime tree, and taken lots of photos, done some observing of shapes, sketches in pencil, ink and then watercolour, I am ready to start the next step in my process which is to take this new knowledge and quickly sketch up some rough ideas in the form of thumbnails.

I usually try to make about 12 -15 thumbnail sketches. These are literally a grid of ideas that I quickly draw of things relating to and similar to my original source of inspiration. In this case the limes.

I wrote down a list of words that are triggered from “Limes”. These include: descriptive words like green, bumpy, round, shiny; related words like: cocktails, fresh, tangy, zesty, seafood; literal words like: fruit, leaves, stems, juice, tree, citrus; and words that describe the opposite traits like: block, square (round), red (green), pink, hard (soft), pale (bright), sour (zesty), blue (green).

And now, I am ready to start sketching out my thumbnails. It shouldn’t take too long to do this, make it like a little quick idea generating process. I put some colour into it because I had some to hand. But I wouldn't usually do this.

The next step in this process for me is to work out the colours

I will use. When I was doing my initial watercolour study of the limes I found that I used, a lime green, sap green, turquoise blue, cobalt blue, pale lemon yellow, ochre yellow, magenta pink, burnt sienna brown and payne's grey. Nine base colours. I will stick with these for now, as I really liked the turquoise, green and pink together. I did mix darker shades of blue, brown and green by adding in the payne's grey to the cobalt blue, the sap green and the burnt sienna. Adding these into the mix, gives me the shades and darker tones I will need for shadows or contrast.

Here is the colour map that makes up my Colour Palette.

With these colours and the thumbnail sketches to hand, I will now endeavour to make two types of larger study sketches. The first will be enlarged more detailed (as in to scale and proportion) using pen and pencils and maybe a bit of colour, to expand on my ideas – for example to exaggerate shapes, or contrast the colours, line work and textures, against each other. I will just let the imagination flow for this as I am hoping these will become bigger ideas, that express feelings and movement. These will be used for my paintings and form small scale studies. I usually do about 6-8 at once using 225 gsm paper or thicker, taped up to make about 12-15 cm squares.

The second type of sketch study will be to create some line drawings of elements that can be scanned into my computer and used to create vectorised scans in Adobe Illustrator. Join me for the next instalment to see how I go with this stage of the process.

If you know anyone who might be interested in this blog or my artwork, please share this blog with them.

To read Part 1 from last week click here

Until next time, stay safe and well.

Narelle xx

This blog is by Narelle Callen, of The Callen Collective. You can find more artwork at

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