A Few Words About Brushwork

Context: Thinking about visible brushmarks or mark making in a painting rather than blending and smoothing out all brushmarks, about the things that influence brushmarks.

Shape (of brush: round, rigger, flat, filbert, fan)

Size (of brush)

Hard/Soft-ness (of the bush hairs)

Speed (of the brushstroke)

Direction (of the brushstroke)

Length (of the brushstroke)

Thick/thin-ness (of the paint)

Dryness (dry brushing, wet onto dry paper)

Underpainting with visible brushwork
This is what typically happens beneath the final ‘wool’ paint layer sof my sheep. You ultimately see just specks through the ‘wool’, but without it my sheep look flat to me.

4 Replies to “A Few Words About Brushwork”

  1. I love seeing the maker’s marks in a painting. This opens up what sometimes can be a mysterious process. So, not only do the marks add a dynamic quality to the painting, they also can serve to educate.

  2. I have mixed feelings about seeing brushstrokes in oil paintings. Sometimes I love them — because they’re so intentional. The painting wouldn’t be the same without them. At other times, though, they don’t look quite so purposeful. For me, those sort of brushstrokes can sometimes be distracting. I think brushstrokes are very useful when an artist knows when, where, and how to use them — as it creating a sense of movement or direction. But, what do I know? I’m still learning, and practicing brushstrokes is something I’m working on a lot right now.

    1. I agree, sometimes marks and texture tell a contradictory story to the overall painting, and it interferes. It should enhance the story not be a diversion.

      1. Excellent advice. As I practice brushstrokes, I will remember your words: Enhance the story; don’t let the brushstrokes distract. Thanks!

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