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An Exploration In Using Stiffer Brushes With Acrylics

March 21, 2020

Painting

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?

  1. Stiffer brushes allowed me to paint with less layers (more directly) without having to water down the paint as much.
  2. Designing each brush stroke allowed me to feel more in control of the painting and was more relaxing.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. Even if I want to make random brush strokes – I should design them to look random and not actually do them randomly.

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