An Exploration In Using Stiffer Brushes With Acrylics
A few weeks ago I set out to explore the use of stiffer brushes in acrylic painting after reading this post on the Crimson Daggers art forum.
I started by purchasing these bristle brushes from Cassart which I am very pleased with.
I found that the stiffer bushes allowed me to work with thicker paint and use less layers of paint than the glazing method I tried previously. Also I could use the technique of dry brushing which worked really well for blending soft edges.
At the same time I started studying the work of Greg Manchess – particularly the way he is so methodical and deliberate in designing each brush stroke he makes.
Below is a study of Elizabeth Olsen as The Scarlet Witch from Marvel’s Avengers films. With this I tried to design each mark I made (although I wasn’t very disciplined with the palette knife on the background) and use thicker paint along with my new stiffer bristle brushes.
What did I learn?
- Stiffer brushes allowed me to paint with less layers (more directly) without having to water down the paint as much.
- Designing each brush stroke allowed me to feel more in control of the painting and was more relaxing.
- Dry-brushing is a great technique for blending soft edges in acrylics. The paint dries faster as well which helps when trying to manage the colour-shift you get when acrylics dry.
- Buying a good quality paint really helps me make a better painting. Some of the cheap paints I was using were really transparent and left the under layers showing through – frustrating!
- Even if I want to make random brush strokes – I should design them to look random and not actually do them randomly.