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Not All Brushstrokes Are Created Equal

By Jonathon Williams and Annie Evans

Brush strokes and the knife

An often overlooked skill in representational oil painting is brushwork. In addition to composition, drawing, values, and color harmony, you should learn a better way of holding the brush so that you are “painting” and not “drawing.” An entire painting can actually be made using one filbert brush.

You should hold it not like a pencil but at the end of the handle to give life to your brushstrokes. You can also balance it sideways, holding it like a conductor’s wand. This gives you a different feeling in your strokes. You use your hand and your arm when painting this way.

A palette knife is an excellent way to add critical and important edges in the painting. Just squint down at your subject, and you can see the edges that are more important. A knife will make them clean and striking and an important focal point. You can also use the palette knife for scraping in a wall, for instance, to give it more interest than using a brush. Scrape up and down and back and forth to add texture to the wall and give it a solid look.

I almost always squint down in the beginning to see the important edges and the softer areas. This gives a painting atmosphere. I carry two knives in my kit. Both are sharp and pointed. I use the shorter one for mixing and then have a choice of using that one or the longer one, depending on the length of the line.

So, squint down, step back, make every brush stroke count, and move the viewer’s eye where you want it to go within the painting. Let’s have some art talk over coffee. Email, what’s app 415 102 1298


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