Sunday, February 14, 2010

Paint Applying Tools

It is always interesting for me to visit artists studios.  They apply paint and do other studio tasks in an endless variety of ways.  Below are the tools I currently use most frequently for applying paint.  There are a few other tools I use frequently in addition to these.  First is the palette knife (somehow omitted from the picture) second is a set of fingers - that first painting tool is alive and well.  I use it a lot.  Third is the lowly rag or paper towel also used in most paintings.

Brushes on the Studio Palette

Here is a description from left to right.  Let me start by saying that the first five brushes plus a palette knife, fingers and rags is what I use en plein air.  I also use these in the studio along with the larger and smaller brushes on the right.  En plein air I frequently use either the largest brush only or add to it one brush like the red one.  The first and second brushes are larger bristle brushes - a #14 flat and a #12 filbert.  These brushes are great for laying in a wash and for establishing the main shapes and their edges determined by squinting.  After the wash these shapes can be established in a few minutes thus trapping the shadows and other features that move most quickly.  I have found that using these larger brushes alone develops your ability to use the six sides of the brush effectively so that small shapes/strokes can also be done with the large brush.  This keeps you out of copying and detail mode.  The red brush is a #8 bristle flat.  If I use this brush it is to avoid cleaning the large brush and get a clean family of colours.  It also allows me to dry brush and cover a large area quickly.  The forth brush is a worn #6 bristle filbert.  Next in the line up should have been a palette / painting knife.  These can be used to mix clean colours and to create any number of knife strokes giving variety to the texture or the surface.  Most of the time these knife strokes must be modified to avoid hard edges and other undesirable effects.  Knives are easy to clean and therefore help with speed without hurrying.  Out of doors I use a one inch knife with a rounded point.  In the studio I use several sizes of knives as the painting gets larger and larger.  The next dark handled brush is a Langnickel sable.  It is very soft.  I abuse this brush in a number of ways from edge modification to drawing to loading it with substantial paint and poking and ramming the brush into the canvas.  Good stuff, but they wear quickly.  The yellow handled brush with the blue mark on the glass behind the tiny bristle is another specialty brush.  It started out as a #6 bristle filbert.  It became a two bristle wonder after using hot water to wash it.  The glue melted and the bristles came out in a clump leaving behind this "whisker" brush that can be loaded with paint to do special jobs.  Never throw out these relics, they might make interesting marks.  Then we move on the the short handled bristle brushes.  In general I use these on larger paintings and go larger as needed.  Some of thse come from the hardware store.

You will notice a few different brands of brushes here.  I use what I find works best.  Usually you get what you pay for.  I wash the brushes carefully at the end of each painting session using warm water and mild liquid hand soap.  Then I form the bristles and clamp them to train them so I can make the marks I desire.

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