Monday, October 3

Painting Watercolor with Big Brushes

My First "Big Brush" Watercolor
Copyright 2011
A few blogs ago I talked about big brush painting and how many of the current impressionist watercolor painters are using rather large brushes to achieve many of the painterly effects in their work.

So I have been practicing with my new, larger brushes and just wanted to blog about it.

One thing I noticed almost immediately is the freedom you feel (or I did anyway) from the moment you start painting with these big brushes. I don’t know whether it’s the way I hold the big brush, rather loosely and way up handle from the ferrule, or the fact that with a big brush you feel like you can move your arm in a sweeping gesture. But whatever it is, it certainly made me feel like I was in control here at the palette.

Another thing I noticed is the amount of water and/or paint these brushes can hold. No surprise that a No. 14 Round holds more than a No. 2, but since there’s more water/paint, you feel like you can paint really large, no matter the dimensions of your paper.

I also read in blogs (and viewed on YouTube) how many of these watercolor impressionists paint. What they give up in detail by using large brushes, they gain in the beautiful impressionistic way the paint flows and mixes the colors. To me, that is the essence of why one paints with watercolor, and the lack of detail is exactly the style and effect I was looking for.

The last thing I noticed is how fast, relatively, you can paint with these bigger brushes. When I was painting with No.2s, No.4s, and even No.8s, it took days (for me anyway) to work through a painting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s rather exhilarating to paint alla prima if you haven’t tried it in a while.

Note—that doesn’t mean that you, as the knowledgeable artist and painter, don’t have to spend some time putting finishing touches on your work, but several of the current watercolor impressionists made a point of saying, “Don’t over-do it!”

So, that’s what I’ve been doing—practicing, practicing with my new, large paint brushes. I said in the previous blog that I would actually paint something and show it to you. It's today’s image. I rather like it, and I hope you try painting with big brushes, too.

Until next time,

Happy Painting!

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