James Reynolds Thumbnails Question

Q. “Did Jim start with a drawing? And how did he get it on canvas? Brush or charcoal?” Paula M, Bob C

Jim always did a small thumbnail sketch, rarely over 6 inches. Sometimes it would be 3 or 4 sketches but he was usually pretty sure what he wanted to “capture.” Another thing he started doing the last couple years was to make a hard color copy of the photo he wanted to paint, usually when he was doing a landscape. He would take a felt marker pen and make changes in the placement of the trees, water or cactus, whatever he wanted as his center of interest. Sometimes it would be mountains or a general landscape that had no focal point so he would use the marker to place objects to make it a pleasing composition.

If it was a simple composition he would generally just indicate, with a brush on the canvas, the placement of the figures. If it was more complex, he would grid the drawing and the canvas and, using charcoal, transfer the general placement of each grid onto its corresponding grid on the canvas. The only exceptions to this were when he taught workshops, and was in a hurry. He sometimes did a canvas size sketch, usually no larger than 16X20,” then charcoal the back and trace it onto the canvas.

I can remember one “thumbnail” sketch he did that was much larger than his usual. It was a humorous sketch portraying 2 captured cowboys that were bound spread-eagled hand and foot with Indians building fires obviously preparing some evil torture. The title was to be what one cowboy was saying to the other, “Okay, here’s the Plan.” He did paint other humorous paintings but unfortunately he never painted this one.