Plein Air Equipment - Brushes
What may seem elementary, the use of a brush to apply pigment to a desired surface, turns out to be a complex and interesting subject.
I recently conducted a workshop for a large art group near Toronto dealing with the different color palette for the changing seasons. During the demonstration, I was able to deal with some of the different styles and uses of brushes for oils and acrylic. I was prompted to share my experience about brushes with the group because many students from previous workshops have asked me to explain about the different bush designs, shapes, and materials.
Here is my take on basics.
Bristle Brushes: designed for oils
The hog's hair is hollow which absorbs water causing it to lose it's rigidity.
Synthetic Brushes: designed to work with water based pigments such as acrylics and water soluble oils as they do not absorb water and retain their shape and rigidity.
Natural Hair: brushes such as Sable are suitable for watercolours as they have the advantage of holding a larger amount of water than synthetics while retaining rigidity.
These are very elementary observations and the subtleties are evident in the hands of the artist.
Here are some basic shapes of brushes:
(L to R) Round : Fan (bristle and synthetic) : Filbert (hog and synthetic)
(L to R) Angle (synthetic) : Flat (synthetic) : Watercolor (natural and synthetic)
I suggest trying a different shape brush next time you do a painting. If I had to choose only one brush for painting in oils or acrylics it would be a synthetic filbert. A good synthetic filbert will have a nice sharp edge and give a variety of shapes from the brush face.
Here is an example of the organic shapes produced from a synthetic filbert by twisting the brush between your fingers. Notice the foliage on the trees particularly on the top right of the painting.
The same synthetic filbert is good for painting ovals such as lily pads in a single stroke.
This angle brush gives you the ability to make fine lines by using the sharp edge of the brush as well as thicker brushstrokes from the face of the brush.
Here is an example of using a flat brush throughout most of the painting.
I hope that you have enjoyed seeing how I use some of the many different types of brushes that are available.
Keep those brushes clean and ready to go!
Quote of the week:
"The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech."