Little Book of Thumbnails - online course
Lesson release date: 6 – 17 November 2023 (select from options).
Continued access period: LIFETIME.
SYLLABUS: each lesson in this enlightening course will focus on a different way to use the thumbnail sketching method (in which drawings are made in pre-drawn frames, arranged in rows and columns across a double-page spread) to benefit observation, expression, and ideation.
We will start by exploring the basic premise of the grid, simply as a system of organisation. One in which similarities, differences, and patterns are easy to spot, where analysis is organic, and progress feels effortless. Whether it is a grid of unembellished colours, pictorial scenes, or bursts of automatic writing, the clarity of consideration that comes with the method is the same: nuance, revealed through repetition and deconstruction, brings about fresh, calm thinking.
Some exercises in this course will focus on investigating and representing the tangible. Using a range of drawing techniques and composition types, we will look at ways of working at different speeds and in different places, both with and without a viewfinder (a tool used to see compositions). Other exercises are about finding ways to record sensory or emotional experiences, utilising the overall structure of the grid to allow time and location to play a part in your visual account (of a journey or soundscape, for example). We will also look at ways to use thumbnail sketching in other processes, such as learning, problem solving, storytelling, and design.
We will work chronologically in one book for the entire fortnight, much as we might during an expedition or retreat. The result will be a sketchbook to treasure, worth more than the sum of its pages.
Effectively, this course is an updated edition of my original Mixed Media Thumbnail Sketching course (which was enjoyed by over a thousand students in 2021). The core principles of that course will be refreshed, rediscovered, and communicated through exciting new concepts and exercises.
FORMAT: a new lesson (ten in total) will be uploaded to a course page on my website tansyhargan.com every weekday at around 9am UK time (BST or GMT depending which run you take) during the course of a specified fortnight. Each daily session will consist of a written overview - providing context, theory, and anecdotal details to support that day’s topic - and an instructional half-hour video. Some lessons may also include downloadable content, such as templates, printable documents, or stills from the video. The videos are hosted by Vimeo, which allows viewers to turn on closed captions (like subtitles) and slow down or speed up the playback speed. On each of the two Friday afternoons, I will provide a “Weekend Brief” in the form of a short bonus video, to inspire you to adapt or combine lessons from the week to make a new exercise to enjoy over the weekend.
The idea behind this format is that students may enjoy the pace, rhythm, and impetus of a course with defined dates and lessons that are released in real time; whilst benefiting from the practical advantages of recorded lessons, which can be watched, paused, and repeated anytime, regardless of time zone or schedule.
You will also have the opportunity to join a private Facebook Group dedicated to the course. Here you’ll be able to share your progress and see the work of other students. I will be available for help and advice via email throughout the course.
ACCESS: on the Friday evening before your run of the course commences, I will email you an access link and password. Please be sure to type your email address correctly when you book your place, and check your junk folder if you haven't received your email 48 hours before the course commences. Any problems, just email me: [email protected]
You will continue to have access for the LIFETIME of the course, regardless of how many subsequent runs of it I release.
PRICING: I offer a concessionary rate on an “honesty-box” basis. Please select the lower price if you are on a low income and genuinely struggle to afford enriching activities.
• Small sketchbook, around the size of a school exercise book. I will be using an A5 book, printed with dot grids, which has 20 leaves (or 40 pages). I envisage filling this book during the course.
• Viewfinder, such as my wooden viewfinder clipboard or bookmark viewfinder (both available in my shop), or you could make your own, in which case you will need a sharp knife and some lightweight card (such as the sort from a teabag or cracker box). I’ll show you how to make a selection at the beginning of the course the beginning of the course. You won’t need a viewfinder for every lesson by the way.
• Ruler, pencil sharpener, a couple of fold-back clips, low-tack masking tape (such as washi tape), double-sided sticky tape and paper glue.
• A selection of drawing media that will enable you to make a variety of marks (broad, fine, translucent, opaque, grainy, smooth, soluble, water resistant, hard, soft, flowing, hazy, solid etc) in a range of colours (some blendable, some fixed) plus black and white.*
• Printed/found papers suitable for collage.
*I am always loath to compile prescriptive lists of materials that make students go out and buy new stuff, when they could just as well experiment with what the already own. Throughout the course, I will give tips on drawing media, making suggestions for alternatives as I go along. My approach is very much one of experimentation combined with thrift (the principle of using what you already have, can make or find). I am also a tutor that errs on the side of more ideas than less. For example, if I demonstrate with soft pastels, I might also briefly show how the visual effect could be achieved with soft pastel pencils, tactile drawing stones, charcoal, earth (literally, soil from the ground), and even eyeshadow or kitchen condiments. It would be quite ridiculous for me to ask that you acquire all these items for the course.
That said, if you really do have zero drawing media, the following would make a good start: soft graphite pencil and chunky graphite stick (both 2B or softer), stick of charcoal, water soluble coloured pencils and pastel pencils (at least 3 colours of each), black fineliner pens (with fine, medium and broad nibs), and some acrylic markers (at least 2 different colours). Plus something fluid, such as a bottle of ink or some paints (acrylic, gouache, or watercolour would be fine, nothing oil-based though).
COPYRIGHT: all content is my own. Bookings are for personal, individual use only. Sharing and reproducing course content is prohibited. If you are a teacher looking for lessons, please contact me to discuss the various options available for bringing me (electronically or in person) into your classroom.