Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brushstrokes, Concept, and Seeing

I was talking with a painter the other day.  She has been working atelier style.  She has been told to "paint what you see, not what you think".  A tell tale sign of evolving in one's ability to see is a painter working with shapes as opposed to things - preconceived ideas.  If the painter is painting representationally, a good assist is to look, mix, place the stroke, leave it alone, and repeat.  This eliminates "licking" and keeps one focused on seeing not thinking.  She has been working on this.  However, she then commented that her work looked too choppy. "Isn't that a result of this look, stroke, leave it alone practice, she asked?"  Naturally there is more to it.  You have to also consider your concept.  Your concept will help you decide what to do with a stroke once applied.  Maybe you want to paint modern showing the brush stroke.  Maybe something else.

One Stroke Left Alone

After looking and mixing,

Second Stroke Left Alone - Modifying the First Stroke

After looking (squinting),

First Strokes Modified - Edge Softening

Edge softening two ways.  The left side of the first stroke was softened by smearing/blending with a brush (could have used a finger).  The edge between the first and second stroke was softened by adding a mid value stroke.  The near values make the edges appear soft.

Then after looking and mixing,

Yellow Stroke Left Alone - Hard Edges all Around

Notice the colour - value contrast and its hard edge calling attention.

And squinting,

Edges Modified

And looking, mixing, and changing from a brush,

Multi Edged Stroke

These strokes were subordinate to the concept.  No mud resulted.  The shapes are slowly evolving.  Patience.  You can't get to the end bypassing the beginning and middle.  Stay the course.  Keep to the concept.  Don't let them sway you.


  1. This is such a great site! I like the way you set this up! Great content and images as well! Thanks for sharing this! Great works!...Daniel

  2. Thanks Daniel, the idea is to share the learnings.. To get to where you are going you have to be ever a student. That keeps the development flowing.