Brushstrokes & Their EffectsMay 30, 2021
Hi everyone, I thought we'd take a quick look at the brush strokes this morning. It's a fun topic in a lot of ways because before I started doing demos and workshops and these online tutorials, it was something I had never thought about. Get a brush, put it in the paint and make marks on the paper. It really is that fundamental and instinctive, so I thought about it a little more and what I did was take a look at the marks I make in my paintings. and see if there are any tips, techniques or ideas you can glean from those that can also help you create
effectsand textures in your paintings.
Now I must say that, as with most things, I'm a bit old school in this regard. So for me, painting is very simple, it's making marks with a brush. You'll see a variety of amazing tutorials online where artists will use a variety of different things to make marks, cards, sticks, put salt in the wash for texture. Granulation media. All that kind of stuff is fantastic, check them out and try those techniques too because you'll definitely find something interesting there, but that's not how I paint it, it's really with one exception, it's just with a brush. Well if you want to understand a little more about brush strokes and brush control you found the right video so what I thought of doing was just a little painting and while I'm doing it I'll explain to you the various brush strokes that come up all the time in the vast majority of my paintings and you can see how I use them to achieve certain
effects, certain techniques and try them out yourself before doing it, they are worth a quick look.
The brushes I use because of course they dictate the marks I make and the various effects I can create, so these two are my sky brushes. This here is an old pain brush that must have been about 20 years old. It has soft goat hair and has gotten even softer over the years as I've used it a lot. It is brilliant for covering large areas on the sky to glaze painted areas and also for re-wetting the paper if necessary. This is also an incredibly soft brush, it's a squirrel mop and holds a lot of paint and water, so again it's brilliant for skies, but it also has a wonderfully sharp tip so I can use it for a number of effects that I can.
Not necessarily with the Hakey Brush sable brushes, I would say they are the workhorse of my paintings and are incredibly versatile, hold large amounts of paint, have a beautiful point as you can see, get back to a point very quickly and allow you to cover wide areas and then go to small areas and you can capture a lot of detail without having to change your brush. They have what I call a nice belly, you can see it there and That's also really good for getting broken dry brush effects on paper, so these are fantastic, they're really very versatile, but make sure you never throw away the old ones, these They are old sable brushes, I have had them for years, as you can look at the spots, the spots are gone, but they are wonderfully soft, they are wonderful for mid-range tree areas, they feel like rock faces where you are not going to need the brush as much. precision of one point, um, but the softness and the water. or the paint retention qualities are excellent, never get rid of these, even if the paint starts to come off the handle this way, it doesn't matter, let it all come off, it still works the same way.
This may seem like a pretty simple thing to say. but take the saber and just paint a line that I can see as I do it. I press the brush against the paper and pull it in the direction of the handle and I get a sharp line on the top and a sharp line. at the bottom and then you can keep doing it, if you are painting a larger area you can keep the paint moving down the paper and you will get the correct results of what your brush is supposed to do, which I see quite often and it just doesn't lends itself to a nice cool wash on your paintings, it's this kind of thing, so if you take the brush and rub it like this, sometimes you'll end up getting a pretty patchy look to what you're painting and often, the brush dries. and it can cause rosy problems like that, not like that, but I also understand that the way the tip behaves on your round brush is different than the other part of the belly of the brush, so if I paint this way perpendicular to the handle, the tip will give me a sharp edge on the top.
You will notice the bottom edge starting to break. This is useful to keep in mind because you can achieve different effects simply by changing the orientation of the brush in the way you hold it. Your brush will also have a significant effect on the type of results you get. If I hold it down here like I'm signing a legal document, then that's good for the details. I can get a lot of precision painting that way. and sometimes you need that is not a bad practice and it is very useful if you like to include some detail in your paintings, however, I would say that in the vast majority of my works I do not use the brush like that, I hold it in the Finish here particularly particularly for landscapes and use the tip of the brush and the side of the brush because that way you can get nice textures like these broken areas, you see where the brush hits the paper on the tip, but not so much where the belly. from the brush you get these beautiful shapes there's still a lot of paint on the brush um no I'm not skimping on paint here but just using the brush freely and not holding it by the end or the ferrule.
I should say that you can get these pretty nice shapes and textures in your painting. Well, now continue with the round saber. Let's talk a little about dry brushing because it's pretty misunderstood, in fact, possibly misnamed. I have an i. I have a brush full of paint here. You can see that as I paint a line there is a lot of juicy paint on the brush. I can now load the brush with the same amount of paint and produce what is often known as dry brushing. Let me. I show you and it actually doesn't have as much to do with how much paint is on the brush, how wet or dry it is, but rather the speed at which you move it over the surface and also the nature of the surface, so Look, this works better on rough surfaces.
The paper is very wet but you get that beautiful effect which is fantastic for sunlight on lakes and things like that and you need to practice this technique. It's really important because it creates a lot of flexibility when you're painting because you don't have to put a ton of detail in certain areas, you allow textures like this to make suggestions for you. Another way to do it is to also hold the brush that way and just use the bottom of the brush so I can let my fingers rest. on the paper and the brush is right on top, tilt it down and just run it across the paper and particularly with a rough piece of paper this becomes easier and we call it a dry brush, but you can see here that as I put this paint on the paper It stays moist for a decent amount of time.
I can work in areas of this if needed without having problems, so it should be called a dry brush. I wonder, of course, that I can remove the vast majority of the paint. the brush and it will still allow me to get those kind of results maybe a little bit more even, but this is drying very quickly so it becomes difficult to continue working with it and yet if we call it dry, wet brush brush fast brush whatever it really doesn't matter too much the point is to try this because it's not that easy. I remember when I was learning how to do this I saw people doing it, I think oh yeah, it seems that way. really simple, you don't need to get a piece of paper like this, you need to practice using different parts of a round brush to achieve these kinds of effects that work perfectly, yeah, for a tree, right away we have a tree, um, you.
You can see the spaces in it, you can imagine where the branches are because they've been suggested and that's much more satisfying in a painting than having something that's laboriously painted and you know there's a lot of leaves and branches and things there right away that you know are there. over there. we have it we have a tree and it is simply as a result of perfecting that type of brush stroke now these round brushes are also excellent they are synthetic this is 100 synthetic this is a mixture of synthetic fiber and sable and They are inexpensive but very good quality and they are very, very useful for painting because they don't hold as much paint as squirrel mops or sable mops, your more expensive brushes and sometimes you need that, sometimes you can.
Working in a small area of the painting and being able to have control over a relatively small amount of paint and deploy it with precision is very useful, so I use them a lot. They are extremely useful brushes, as you will see, let me introduce you. This poor boy, I'm afraid, takes a lot of abuse, and is a cheap mop brush. It's pretty fun, it hits a good point, it's synthetic, I hit it against the paddle and it frays. The ends are like that, but it's brilliant for doing broken areas in the paint, like long grass hedges, small distant trees, and you can get nice random broken marks with it, so it's a good idea to play with something like that, but if you you do, don't do it.
Don't confuse it with that, if you do, it is an extremely costly mistake. Do it now. This is the only brushless tool I usually use. It is a spatula for oil painting or acrylic painting. It's very flexible and I sometimes use it for notions. dip it in the paint, apply it a few times and you'll get berries on a holly tree for example, or pebbles on the beach, don't overuse them which is sometimes a risk when you find a new technique you cover. your paint and everything becomes pretty obvious, but for the little subtleties in landscape with watercolor, these are surprisingly useful and I'll show you how I achieve that effect, so I'm going to paint a simple scene of an estuary here and I've got sunlight Entering from the left side here it will be night.
I've mixed in a little bit of sienna and cadmium red and then a little bit of cobalt blue and then cobalt blue and cadmium red here which will give me enough to start studying the sky. and for that this is where the arcade brush comes in, what I'm going to do first is just wet the paper and paint it to allow the colors to blend together really well and can we use the raw sienna mix when having it on this side of the sky here the sun is coming in this direction, so I want to change to this nice warm gray which is cadmium red and cobalt blue and then go to the cobalt blue, let them all run together and go down above that. hill there, I'm switching to my squirrel brush, now my mop brush and I'm just going to get some of that excess watery paint out and take it over to where the hills are, these trees and they'll house wall there, stop now while you still is wet, I'm going to mix a stronger gray and I'm just going to leave it wet on wet and just give you your suggestion of a uniform cloud and then when it comes in this way, that mix is going to be a lot hotter, so I'm going to use my red raw cadmium sienna and I'll paint the bottom of these clouds that will just catch the afternoon sun and up there as well, the softness of this brush allows me to not only put the paint on and get a nice shape but it allows me to continue blending these areas, I think that's what we have to do and dry again with a brush on a piece of kitchen paper or a hotel like I do and then run it over here and Wipe off a little bit of that wash that's on the paper and I'll let it dry.
I'm going to switch to one of my old sable brushes and I'm just going to paint the uh look at the estuary river here and I'm going to want a little bit of a cooler blue for this side and then I want it to be a little bit warmer so let's we zoom in towards the sunlit area, so I'm going to allow a little bit of cadmium red to come into that as well and what I want. What I want to do here is use that technique or what we talked about about dry brushing to give it a little shine in the water.
I'm going to start on this side, I want to make sure I only miss that side of the ship that's there. Being lit by the sun on this side doesn't matter much because it's in the shadows. I'll start here. I don't want it everywhere. I just want to feel that the light in some places is catching the surface. It's getting a little hot. when we get here, let's say let's go to the dark side of the ship, that doesn't matter and then over here I'm going to almost fade this down to that shadow for, um, just light or plain paper, just the white paper here because that should be enough now I want keep this moving here, so let's go back to this area here again, same kind of technique going around that marker guy there, that's good, keep it quite, quite broken, through this part here it will give it a nice shine and nice contrast to the exposed river bank areas there and then we'll end up in the foreground with a little bit darker, that's fine and then what I'm going to do is just in a couple of places, let's soften it up. these areas to the side and again with the brush, but this time from the side, I'm just going to connect what could be stones or yes, just the garbage that is exposed as the tide goes out on these sides, the river bank , here and then, when Glaze over those.
I already have some texture that suggests the gradient of the bench and there is alittle more detail there than there would be if I painted it on transparent paper. Okay, now let's start building the layers from back to front, which is usually a good way to work in most landscape paintings, and we'll start with that hill at the distance it needs to be. It has a very cool color, but I don't want it to be just flat. I don't think I want a little hint that there's some reflected sunlight on the left side, so we're going to have a little bit of a warmer gray here, which is just I say it's great, it's almost on the verge of being green and that's enough to show that there is some shifting light on this side of the hill and what I've done is switched to this nice sable brush that points beautifully, uh.
It is from rosemary brushes or rosemary coats. I should say that I'm going to go around these little sailboats here, you might not be able to see them, but that allows me to go from this nice big area to some pretty small detailed areas. and this is what sable brushes are so good for, so start on this side, yeah, that's warm enough and where it goes towards the trees, here I'm going to paint that because I don't want a hard edge to form there. so now I use my coldest color, you can see the tone, these are the same, they are so light from each other, they just have a little more warmth and it's enough to give the feeling that the sun is catching parts of this hill.
I'm going to go down over the harbor wall because it will have a darker tone. I don't care, maybe a little bit there. I'm not really sure what it is, but it might be something up there on the hillside. Come on. around the top of the boat because the sun would be reflecting off the top of the cockpit area and then this is where these brushes make
theirmoney. Look, I can go from that wide area on the hillside. It's a small detail that you can see now. I have lowered the handle of the brush, it helps me achieve a greater sense of precision with my brush strokes and I prefer this to using masking fluid.
I prefer it to using titanium white. I use both from time to time in my paintings, but in general. Ideally speaking, I like to paint around it if you get a bit more of a natural edge and also helps you practice brush control below. I want to put this middle distance tree area and again, something similar here, I want to keep it in the middle. distance and hue there won't be much difference between the sunlit areas and the shadows, but they will all get progressively stronger and again I want to paint this entire area here in one go, I don't want to stop and let things dry. and then start playing, so let's make sure we have a lot of paint mixed and ready to go.
A stronger sunlit color that is our raw sienna and cobalt blue. It's still relatively fresh. You wouldn't look at it the same way. Very warm sunlit green and then we'll turn up the shadow color a little bit stronger as well, that's getting close to what I want perfect. I think what might be nice is to have a bit of sun reflecting off the edge of the church tower. there, so keep that in mind and have something ready to jump in if I need it again. I don't want to make it too obvious otherwise I'm just getting too far ahead of that area and now I'm moving on to the With the round saber here, as you can see, I mean this is a relatively small painting and it's not a particularly large area, but use the biggest brush you can for these areas because you get more paint, there's richness and freshness to your washes if you can do that, so let's start, let's start here and again.
I'm going to use the brush in a fairly free manner, so I'm holding the end of the handle and allowing for the rough texture of the paper. To suggest these trees here, I don't want to be too picky with the sheets and things like that, then we go into our shade, let everyone run together, I'm just going to leave a space there for the mast on that main ship and Again, as we Come down, leave these little spaces here, they are always there in the trees. So let's end up reasonably dark on the bottom here, making sure we have a nice, sharp line around the top of the boat that's going to catch the sunlight and in contrast to the water there, we can probably still make this a little bit darker, but let's get back to that in due time, a little bit more sunlit area here in the shadow, i think we may be going a little further into the distance so these colors are cooling down and becoming a little less strong tonally again.
I'm going around the top of the ship here using the saber's aiming ability to get the detail I need. Now I'm going to the warm color I wanted. The side of the church tower is too strong now I don't want too much, um, dry brushing and work and broken edges here because this is a distant area here and in the middle distance, I should say, and dry brushing while it is, it's a fairly random process. suggests details and textures. I don't really want too many details here. This is just drying on the bottom, so I'm going to use one of my synthetic brushes here, don't hold too much paint and I'm going to blend. a very dark shadow color on the palette and just place it in a couple of places while it's still wet.
I don't want to do too much of this though because it's too far away, maybe something around the top of the boat is there. Give it a good time, let's just break up that thing that's all sitting in the shade of that tree. I'll go for the top of the boat here. One of the things that is good to practice and is a technique perfected by Chinese calligraphers is on your palette to roll the brush between your fingers and also on the paper and it encourages you to keep a tip on your brush or to retrieve it if it just disappeared completely .
Another harbor building here and then you have all the mess and the ships. and the things that are on top of the harbor walls, put them there and you know your mind will decide exactly what it is. I'm going to change the color here again. I don't want this to be a kind of slab of a single color that never looks good in the paint, give it a little variety. I'm introducing a little bit of yellow here, a little bit of red, so it's going to take on a slightly warmer brown look as it spreads out here.
I think there is a marker post at the end while it is still wet. I'm going to use a little bit of this dark shadow color again and leave it around the side of this pot. Here I want to be careful not to show it. Too obvious so extend it away from the boat too and go down a bit here harder walls perfect buffer now let's deal with the river bank area or the mudflats on this side also on this side of the little rivuleta estuary if you want make sure again you have a lot of paint to do this and go back to my sable brush and keep in mind that the light is still coming from the left, that arrow is useful, just remember that's where the light is coming from and then a bunch of this shadow color , place them using the brush in a fairly traditional way.
I'm going to use the tip of the brush. I'm going to use the side of the brush. I'm going to use the tip of the brush. I'm going to use the side of the brush. range of different, uh, different brush strokes, as you can see, I can go down as good as I need to now get into the shadow area, it's just close to the water and it helps suggest the gradient of the river bank or the mudflats again, a stronger color. from the top here to where it's just below the pot and I want to keep some little white specks here, so now I'm using the brush in a different way.
You can see it's leaning to one side and I'm just allowing it. hitting and missing in places that are important, as you'll see shortly, I go back to the arcade brush because I just want to put a glaze on the bottom half of the painting just to help enhance that afternoon sun feeling I'm getting. very pale wash here and what I don't want to do is paint too much because I will certainly start to alter some of these dark tones that I've already left and this is where all the brushes like this arcade one are perfect because it's very soft, it holds a lot of water and I can go very lightly over this area here and what I'm effectively doing is changing my white areas to this pale orange color, as you can see I'm constantly loading the brush because the last thing you want to do is scrub here with a brush that doesn't have a lot of diluted paint; otherwise you'll start to soften some of these areas underneath.
Learn to use soft brushes like this one for glazing, they are great, now what? He's done it, he's taken the shine off the paper and just softened it all up a little bit with this soft pale orange or raw sienna color while it's wet. I'm just going to put some stronger sunlit colors on um on the edge of this ship here, for example, I really want to feel like it's strongly catching the light. I'm painting right through the shadow area and it also gives it some kind of uniformity. I will darken it again in due time.
Think about the top of the little cabin on the side of that ship, you can put a warm color that you'll notice, in fact I should have said this before I made that polish, but I had a little technical problem with the camera, it was called The The battery was getting low and, um, it got pretty low, so just as I was going down this area of the bench, um, it started beeping and I kept working, dropped a little bit of color there and then did the same thing on that side. Also, I hope you catch up now that this has dried up.
What I'm going to do is start defining some of the foreground shapes here and I've switched to this synthetic round brush which is perfect for these. type of areas first let's put a darker shadow on the side of the ships, just to give it a little more definition, you can see these spots very well, they don't contain ridiculous amounts of paint, but it's enough for this type of area we'll do the same thing here and I shouldn't forget to put the shadow area in the back here. I'm just leaving a little highlight at the top where the sun reflects off the top of the boat, so what am I going to do?
What I'm going to do is just wet the side of the boat here and paint a little bit of shadow color on it as it curves underneath, otherwise it starts to look pretty flat and then I'm going to get a little too dark again, It doesn't matter. I'll use that way for sure, um, so I'm going to go cooler here and darker. I'm not really worried about going down to the top of that mud area because what I want to do is connect the boat to it. a deep shadow I'm using the same brush here, but it's going to slide somewhere here, along the edge, into that marker, and then with a wet brush, it's going to have very little water because we don't want it. running back there, I'm going to smooth it out and drag it along the edge and that connects the boat to the back really well and when it starts to dry I can also make it even darker, let's vary that edge slightly by dropping it. some very dark paint where the boat meets the shore, we could do the same here, although yeah it's still wet so I forgot about it, that's good, I can plug it in too, it doesn't work all the way up. but we can swap that out, we're going to mix a pretty unusual color, um, and it's a very local color, but it works really well for these marker guys and it's using a little bit of Naples yellow with a little bit a little bit of permanent pink, you get this pink quite nice soft, typical of this type of boys.
Switch to the rigger. Now you could use a bigger brush for this. It's the one I had on hand. I'll put a little hint about that here too. it's a highlight, smudge it with your finger if you want, it often works and then while it's still wet again, let's put a shadow that falls on this side and on the back and bottom, let's remove that white mark as well. there we are, it's connected to the side of the coast, now it looks like part of it, it's not something we're just stuck with that, it's getting a little darker in the background too.
I'm going to do a couple of things here that I normally wouldn't do in this painting, but it serves to demonstrate some requisite brush strokes. I'm going to suggest a couple of trees here and it doesn't really need them so you'll just have to tough it out. For me this will slightly affect the look of the paint. I'm going to mix in a little bit of burnt sienna and a little bit of cobalt blue and you'll see that when I use the rigger on its side, there will be more of these hairs. are coming into contact with the paper.
I can start with a pretty broad stroke and then by relieving the pressure and rotating the brush, all in one stroke, a couple of strokes, I can really go from white to fine. The surveyors are nice and easy. Well for that, another example of this again. Normally I wouldn't put this in the painting, but I'll show you anyway and it's some waves here. I mean, this isn't like that, it doesn't need waves, but you'll see. That this is a useful stroke, so let's start again here. It may be a little shiny, but I'm not too worried.
Anyway, I wouldn't normally put them in this scene, but you start with very little pressure on the brush to get a nice, fine one. line and then you apply pressure, you push the brush into the paper and then you lighten the pressure and pull again and sometimes you get a broken edge at the bottom to create waves and it's a nice way, all in one brush stroke, to puta little texture on the surface. The water is light, heavy, light and then again. I wouldn't do this, you don't really need it, but just to show you again how we can apply a little bit of dry brush in the foreground here, right where the water is going down a lot and we're like running through the mud. fight, grab your sable brush, we're going to use the belly here, not too much paint and then we're going to hold it like this and we're just going to find this area here and we've got a hint of that estuary mud underneath or come through the water smooth it out here and here and it's a good stroke to be able to use it, practice it with a light touch by holding the brush parallel to the paper and then using your belly just to brush over the rough. surface to get that nice broken effect now I also said we would take a look at what to do with this a little bit of let's put some splatter now you have to be very careful here and I use it this board because what you don't want are pebbles and stones in your sky, so I'm going to put some here and some on the bottom to mask where we don't want it to go and then I'm going to put some color on the bottom of this little spatula and just move it here, not everywhere.
I might have a couple more rocks or what's that kind of junk you have lying around. It's still a little wet here, so it will blend. and it starts to bleed pretty good there too look, it's a nice effect and we'll wrap up just to show you again a little bit more. Let's put a little on this side. The brighter you turn it on, the smaller the effect will be. The bigger you ping. that the more you read the paper, you'll know that now it's just a case of finishing up with a bit of detail work and predominantly that will be using the ringer, let's have a nice, nice, warm sienna color at the top of the top. of the ship's railing here, I just select some details and again I'm pressing pretty hard with the rigger because I want a thicker line, but as it comes this way, I release the pressure, I have that sense of perspective even though it's very There's a small space here, but let's go from larger to a little bit smaller there, let's mix in a darker version of this for the dark side of the ship again.
I want to leave a little highlight at the top where the sun is just reflecting and the same thing will be running around the back of the boat here, be quite free with your strictness, allow it to move a little bit because then you get marks that are not as You're precise all the time and, you know, in a painting like this, it's pretty loose. It's good to have just a few little marks to show that you're safe. You know you have some confidence in what you're doing. You don't need to grip it tightly with white knuckles because you're afraid. the paint, but you're letting the brush dance and make marks that it might choose to make on its own and then you get a painting that starts to look quite painterly, I think that's the term people.
I'd like to use pretty sure what it means, but let's get on with it anyway, enough of that, let's put some detail in, um, on the other ship here, um, there's not much left to do, really, let's put the masts in, we need Go back into the rigger and these are catching the sun, so let's use a nice wash of burnt sienna, keep it white where it goes through the air, going through the trees. I'm going to pick up some Payne's Grey, some burnt sienna. Of those nice, dark mixes, put a little bit here at the front of the ship, pick out one or two small details here, but again, not too many, some shadows behind the stones and rocks and a variety of junk found in the shore of the estuary. of ropes just trailing through the water here and then a bit of rigging not too much again use your rigger with confidence don't try to draw a nice tight line here something like that doesn't matter if in fact sometimes it looks better If it doesn't go all the way , there's probably something there and then I'll have a row from back here, I'm just going to put a little bit of shadow on the side of the church here, we probably have a little bit of rope coming off here actually, you know what?
I think it's good enough, so there we are, the tapes are off. Look, it's by no means a masterpiece, but it's a bit of fun and hopefully you've been able to see one. There are a number of different brush strokes used here that you might want to incorporate into your own painting and your own style as well, so we've used the hakay and the squirrel mop to make a big area of sky and looking at it, it's. softens washes shine hasn't been rubbed with laborious, broad strokes for large areas always works well we've been using the round sable brush to get these nice broken areas using it on its side like this using At the bottom of the brush we've used its nice tip fine to describe areas on the harbor wall and ships.
We've also used synthetic brushes, we've even tried moving the spatula around a bit, well, I really enjoyed it. that and I encourage you to get your brushes, grab some rough pieces of paper and play around, look closely at what happens when your brush interacts with the surface and try to understand a little bit more about your kit, the marks it makes. and how you can use it to create different textures in your paintings, so give it a try and thanks for watching, we hope to see you next time.
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