Painting Demo: Stage 8

What a wonderful day of painting I had! Why was it so wonderful, you ask? Because I had fun! I don't really have too much to talk about though. Today I decided to park and work on Sydney's hand, arm and basket. The arm still needs a bit of work, but the hand and basket are finished (For now).


Since this image is basically a detail shot, I think I'll talk a bit about brushwork. Brushwork is important. And not. If the fundamentals of representational (realistic) art are listed in order of importance, brushwork comes in dead last: 1) Drawing, 2) Values, 3) Edges, 4) Temperature, 5) Color, 6) Brushwork. Yet, strong brushwork can sometimes make the difference between a mere technically-accurate rendering and a work of Art.

One key to having strong brushwork is variety: use brush strokes that are thick or thin, opaque or transparent, textured or smooth. Also, vary the direction of your strokes. Stroke both with and against forms. Make each square inch of your canvas alive with variety, so that it could stand alone as a beautiful abstraction. NEVER try to make your brushwork look like another artist's. You'll only frustrate yourself. Strive simply for accuracy and looseness, and above all... be yourself!

That being said... I wanted to be like some of my favorite artists who use Rosemary & Co. Series 278 and 279 long mongoose brushes, so I bought some for myself! They are wonderful, and I recommend them to any artist. They have a great "spring," allow a lot of reworking and have hairs that can be either splayed or shaped to a razor's edge. They are very similar to Royal Langnickel long mongoose brushes.

Want to paint more loosely? So did I, so I developed some "rules" that I disciplined myself to follow:
•Mix up plenty of paint. Nothing flattens a painting more than trying to spread too little paint.
•Never sit down.
•Back up after every stroke. And I mean back up at least eight feet. If a passage looks accurate from eight feet away, it's good--don't mess with it anymore! You should be constantly pacing back and forth
•If you are working from photos, angle your photos (or computer monitor) so that you have to back up at least eight feet to see both your source images and your canvas straight on.
•Hold your brush handle halfway back and use your whole arm when making strokes.

Keep following these rules until you see a change in your work. Then you can try sitting down or painting more strokes between each time you back up. If your painting tightens up again, go back to following the rules more strictly for a while. By the way, there's nothing wrong with painting tightly. Brushwork should be left to the preference of the artist (fundamentals 1 through 4, however, CANNOT be left up to preference).

Thanks again, everyone! Meet me back here tomorrow, Thursday the 17th for the next installment!

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