I receive a lot of questions from people in our community. Recently, someone asked me, “What is the best brand for a paintbrush?” Hi, my name is Carrie and today on Artist Strong I have an answer to this question, but it might not be the one you’re looking for.
What is the best brand of paintbrush to use? I would argue, it’s the one you’re already using. In today’s demonstration, I’m going to show you three different ways to use the paintbrush you already have.
Hi everyone, it’s Carrie here again. Now, I’m going to go through the three short little demos I’m going to show you today. I picked two colors for my paint, which you can see here. One is an ultra-marine blue and the other is a medium magenta, they’re both from Liquitex. I picked two paintbrushes and I have some water over here. I like to have a old towel that I can also wipe my paint on as well, I want you to be able to see that. I’m going to make sure it’s showing here for our first demo.
The first demo I want to show you is scumbling.
I’ve made sure that that word goes up on the screen for you, so that you know how to spell it if you haven’t heard of it before. It’s best if you use a brush that has a stiffer bristle to it, so you can hear the sound … think you can hear the sound of this one. You probably could make it work, but I think it would be harder to use a softer bristle brush, more of a watercolor brush. I think that would be harder to get a scumble with, but I’m sure you can with either. I encourage you to experiment and see what feels the best for you.
Scumbling is used by Impressionist artists. A lot of people don’t understand that’s the primary technique used by Monet. Lots of people think, with Monet, that he repeats a brush stroke over and over again, when in fact, he scumbles. I’m going to show you now.
I’m going to wet my brush a little bit, but then dab it mostly dry. I’m going to take some of this paint. You can see how much is on my brush. Then, you scrape it, you push it into the paper and you make these rotational marks. You see, I’m moving in a circle, that’s scumbling, it’s the shift. You let some of the white of the paper show through, you don’t load it so thick that you can’t see other layers. Then, if you wanted to add another color, you could wait until it’s dry and scumble on top.
Or, while it’s still wet, you could add another color and scumble in some areas, and see how that mixes the colors and how they work together. It’s this repeated kind of rotational movement with your brush, it’s not super wet, so that you get a scrapey sound as you’re moving with your brush. It gives you this nice textural layered mark, which, really, is quite beautiful. If you look carefully at Monet’s work, you’ll see scumbling in his.
The next two, I can demonstrate on one piece of paper. One thing that we often assume that we do with a brush is put things down, paint back and forth, have this one motion on the paper. We don’t think about rubbing it in and moving it around like we did with scumbling.
The other thing you can do, is you can actually print with your brush.
Instead of drawing with your brush, or trying to cover an area and color in a surface, you can print with your brush. You repeatedly make marks, you could decide which side of the brush that you want, which angle do you want, how much pressure do you apply. You can repeat these marks over and over again on a surface.
You could have an underpainting of color and then place these marks on top, and work with them repeatedly to create, for example, a feeling of brush or a part of a tree. Printing with your brush is a really simple way to mix things up. Again, you don’t need a specific brand of brush for this. You can use one brush to get all kinds of effects.
Sometimes we limit ourselves with the different effects we think we can achieve with a brush, and we try to pick a new brand of brush or do that kind of research, instead of just experimenting with the tools we have.
The other one that I have for you, and the last technique I’m going to show you today, in our little mini workshop, is to draw into the paint that’s already there.
So, if it’s thick. I’ve just mixed some of the colors together and I’m just layering it on my paper. Obviously if you work on paper, or canvas, or masonite all of these may work a little bit differently, and that’s part of the fun. to experiment. Use the backend, the butt of your brush, and draw into it, and see what happens. I like to wipe my brush clean when I do that, after. You can see, you can get some really interesting effects by drawing into the paint.
Again, all this with one paintbrush. You don’t have to break the bank, you don’t even need a new paintbrush. The only thing that can get annoying with paintbrushes is sometimes the hairs fall out of them, over time. You can help prevent that by not soaking and leaving your paintbrushes in soaking water or liquid of any kind.
Clean them out, and when they’re done, like I said, don’t just leave them soaking in here. Clean it out and leave it out on your paper towel. That will help the glue to hold longer. The reason those bristles come out is because the glue in here, holding them, starts to loosen with time. I hope you enjoyed these little demos, and we’ll get back to the other part of the video.
This question reminds me of the countless hours I would spend researching different artist tools, instead of using that time to make. I wonder how many of us use these kinds of questions as an excuse, or an avoidance behavior, to ignore or find an excuse to embrace the fear we have about our creative process. Sometimes we have these kinds of questions, or avoidance behaviors, because we’re actually scared to make. Today, I ask you to think about that when you start to go down a rabbit hole of research. Because, that’s an answer only you know.
Be Creatively Courageous: today, I encourage you to share a link to one of your favorite mixed media tutorials in the comments below. Then, tell us about your own moment of, what I like to call over-research. What’s a question that you’ve allowed yourself to dig, perhaps a little too deep on, instead of making your art. Share it with us in the comments.
Of course, if you’ve enjoyed today’s video, please share it with others. Thanks guys for watching and I’ll see you next week.
P.S. If you work in oil paints, or are thinking about it, check out this great article that lays out everything you need to know about oil painting brushes here!
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