How to develop your loose painting technique? In this article I'll be looking important questions asked by artists who are struggling to loosen up their painting style. Importantly how to stop themselves from falling back into old habits. Are you trying to loosen up your painting style to get a more impressionist look? But do you always seem to fall back into the safety of a tight style? This is the issue that we want to solve in this article.
Plus you can try an amazing exercise to break these habits. Take a look!
Watch the Video:
Help, I Keep Using Small Brushes!
I was asked recently by an artist if I have any tips on how to get a loose style, except for repeating the same thing about brush size and using more paint. I thought about this for a while and I realised that maybe this particular artist had been trying these two tips out and then inevitably reverting back to his old habits. So I asked the artist about this and he admitted that he was picking up the small brush and falling back into a tight pattern of painting.
Another artist wrote to me as well and said that she starts off the painting nice and loose. The painting is fresh and vibrant. Then old habits kick in again and she is painting tight at the end of the painting.
Do You Follow this Destructive Pattern?
Is this pattern from a pursuit of perfection or something else? I do have my views on this. It might not apply to everyone of course. This is a personal type of thing. I believe that it's more than trying to be a perfectionist. It comes down to mental programming. One that is based in fear.
You may say that, I'm just exaggerating. But really, it does come down to the fear of presenting a finished work. Is it going to be appreciated by people that are important to you? Whether this is your family, your partner, your friend, whatever. It means that they may not understand your work and say to you:
“Oh, that's nice, but it's not finished.”
“I'm not so sure, it doesn't really work for me. It doesn't look like that.
It should look like this.”
And on and on.
Fear is a Powerful Force
Responses like that are things that a lot of us actually fear. We get better at dealing with it over time. Eventually you'll get to a point where it doesn't matter. But if it's someone important to you, their opinion does count. Is the tightening up of the painting a way to prevent that type of response? The type of response that really gets to you personally and is upsetting or just chips away at your confidence?
Because, believe me, it does take confidence to make progress in your painting. Positive reinforcement is important. A lot of people who don't paint will not understand that making progress in your painting is difficult. It is a journey of ups and downs. It takes time and a lot of practise. It's not a switch that you can just flick and instantly you've created an impressionist masterpiece.
“Hey, today I'm going to do a realistic painting like a portrait.”
Voila! A perfect and realistic portrait just happens.
Or what about:
“Today I'm going to do a landscape with lots of trees in it. I'm going to do it like Claude Monet.”
With a flick of a switch, there it is. A perfect Impressionist masterpiece.
It's not that simple. It is a case of adjusting your mental approach to the painting. Without the correct mental approach and resetting of your thoughts and ideas the same pattern will prevail. How you deal with potential failure and fear of somebody calling you out on that is vital to success. It also influences how you handle your technique.
Mind and Technique
The two go side by side. You will not be able to adjust your painting style and build on it if you still feel that it is going to fail and make you look bad.
In the video demonstration I am using a training technique involving a big brush and a small painting surface. It is extreme, but it also illustrates the point. What you can achieve with one or two very large brushes.
I'm using a reference packed with details. First I compose it, but not with a pencil. This may encourage painting between the lines. Get straight in with a big, long, flat brush. A size eight on a six by eight surface, even slightly smaller. Mix paint with the brush too and get a nice mix of colour that has variety in it, not over mixing it.
There will be a little bit of accidental paint mixing here and there and a confused edge. That's no problem. If it's serious go over it, if not, leave it alone. The idea is to keep moving. Get into motion with the brush and put down the paint strokes.
Improve Your Brushwork
You will also learn brushwork this way. By using the edge of the brush or the corners or the flat surface, you can get vastly different shapes. Varying the pressure of the brush gets you different shapes again. Place the colour on top of the other colour and move the brush away. And then you will not muddy up colours. You're using reds and greens together and all remain vibrant. Put down that clean colour note and lift the brush away.
Details? Suggest them. You want to get a nice and vibrant, loose looking sketch of this scene. One that if you stand across the room and look at it, it will make sense and look really interesting. Maybe another day you'll get out the large canvas and do a larger version, but this one is giving you the confidence to paint big shapes.
For some artists, this is a very, very tough exercise. It's almost like they got to hold themselves down from grabbing the small brush, but just do it. Do it for me and then do it for yourself. Just just get it done and you won't regret it. Practise this quite often. Do one of these a week if you can. And that's it.
I hope touching on this topic of big brushes and lots of paint and the size of the painting and the mental aspect to it helps you. I hope that you can recognise and be aware of what's going on when you paint. Once you have that awareness, progress can happen quickly and you won't fall into the trap of painting small and tight. If you see yourself heading for it, you can stop and remind yourself, hang on, this is a process. Keep on course.
Loosen Up Your Painting Course
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