Saturday, July 10, 2010

Holding the brush

Here is the how to hold a brush. My hand is way back at the end of the brush opposite the furry part. If you hold the brush up at the ferrule you will not develop good handling. This is of the very utmost importance. I see students in workshops doing this all the time.


Stay back on that brush. Holding it like a pencil, up at the ferule ( the shiny part) makes crabbed and "short" stingy looking strokes. This will absolutely destroy your brushwork!

Above I am pulling a stroke to the right. I can touch the brush to the canvas and take it in any direction. Practice this until you can too.

Here is the stroke going to the left.

Here I am pulling a stroke upwards.I just turned my hand so the heel of the brush faces the sky and pull the stroke in an upward direction.

This is the one that is a little different. I have flipped the brush over in my hand using a really cool looking professional gesture that looks like I know exactly what I am doing. Then I pull the stroke downwards. This is the only time I turn the brush in my hand to a different position.

14 comments: said...

Hi Stapleton,
This brush/stroke demo would be good as a short little video demo. You might even have a video setting on the little pink camera. You would have the option of posting it on your blog and/or You tube (if you are so inclined).

Karla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karla said...

Thanks for this demo. You will probably cover this but my question is: When laying your "tile" does the next stroke began where the paint begins to thin out on the previous stroke? Sorry for being so ignorant. Thanks for your patience.

billspaintingmn said...

Amazing! You make it look so easy!
(sign of a true professional)
Is it ok to make diagonal strokes?

James Gunter said...

A park ranger stopped to talk to me one day last autumn while I was painting in the mountains. She snapped a picture of me as I worked and was kind enough to email the photo to me. I cringed when I saw I was holding the brush wrong in the picture! This has been the hardest thing for me to get right. For years I worked in pastel (and sometimes still do) and pastels don't have long handles. So when I paint in oils, I absentmindedly tend to have my hand close to the color end of the brush - at least that's my excuse! Is there a good way to break this habbit, short of electroshock therapy or giving up my pastels?

Stapleton Kearns said...

That's a good idea. I have never posted a video before.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You are overthinking this thing. Just put the next stroke where it looks good.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes of course. There are some wholly visual painters who make entire pictures out of only diagonal strokes in imitation of the old "schoolmaster" style of drawing. Looks like hell.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think you could perhaps put a disc with a hole in it on the brush handle, like the guard on a rapier,then you would remember to stay behind that. Just for a little while. Possibly you could wear one of those plastic cones the vet puts on dogs to keep them from chewing at their new stitches.

Anonymous said...

I've never been a swordsman, but sometimes I think of a sword, which, when well made, has a long handle that balances the weight of the blade. Essentially the sword is gripped from the middle, or 3/4 from the tip. I apply that to brush manipulation.

Mary Beth Brath said...

This is simply the best blog on the internet. I love the artwork, laugh till I cry and learn something every time I visit!

nancy said...

Thank you for these wondeful tips. I will try.....

Lisa McShane said...

My confession: I've been guilty of holding my brush too close to the fuzz part too often. So for the last several days I've been very attentive to holding it the way I should. Several small muscles are now a little sore but this is good. Thanks for this post on fundamentals.

Richard J. Luschek II said...

Sorry, but this is the worst painting I have seen you do. I hope this is not a new trend.

I have always explained to students that they should hold the brush like a conductor holds his baton. Paint as if you are conducting a great symphony. It gets you away from your subject, plus you look cool, which is a big part of being a painter.
Isn't it?