Friday, September 10, 2010
Painting with no brushstrokes
- How do I paint without showing brush strokes? I read all your posts about brushstrokes and it was very helpful and you mentioned painting with no brushstrokes but didn't explain a technique. Sure, we all love a 'confident painterly' brush strokes but what if I'm in the mood for a classic? Many old school paintings are plate smooth with fantastic effect. I'd like to tap into that. I've tried softer brushes, sables, thinning and brushing it after it dried a bit (which worked a little but blended the colors more than I would wish). How do I flatten those tiny juicy hills and valleys?
Painting without brushstrokes requires a different approach than the thick, one shot impressionist method. Generally it is best to work with a finished drawing transferred to your canvas. This will help you paint thinly and without building up much paint. A highly finished underpainting is the next step, that should be one earth color and thinner. Care needs to be taken to keep from building up a surface or ridges where the different shapes come together. In gfact if it is not completely smooth, scrape it when dry with the side of your palette knife.
Once you have your completely rendered monotone underpainting, use a medium with a high gloss, like Gamblin's Gamsol, a varnish and oil medium or walnut oil-alkyd medium to thinly paint the color in on top of your underpainting. Try to keep the paint a little more liquid than you would using bristles in an alla prima piece. Use soft brushes, sables or synthetics and keep your edges soft and fused. Round brushes rather than flats will help to conceal your strokes too. Be careful where edges come together not to build up a ridge of paint there.
At the end of your painting session, take a 1/4 inch sable brush and fuse your edges together and soften the passages where you have overly visible brush strokes.Police your painting, looking for places that need to be smoothed out. Do this the last thing each session you work on the painting. If you let the paint dry with a ridge or visible brushstroke you may be stuck with it.The trick is not to build up brushstrokes in the first place, rather than relying on brushing them out later.
Painting smoothly is a discipline and you will have to work at it to get it down. But it is not terribly difficult. Drawing is difficult! If you have the drawing down, the smooth painting part is a lot easier. Fudging and repainting creates surface and you don't want that. Ideally your painting will be two "skins" thick. The underpainting is one and the colored layer is two. Of course that is an ideal, but strive for that.