Thursday, 2 October 2014

Thinking about paintings - Brushstrokes.

I mention towards the end of the previous post about not overworking paintings, not being too 'fussy' with the brush. For quite a while I have thought that in my own painting I have perhaps often focused too much on portraying a subject, possibly neglecting the one thing that attracts me to many of my favourite paintings I have seen over the years, lively interesting brushwork.

I prefer a long handled short flat hog for my oil painting, with a hair that's just a little stiff, certainly not too soft. With this brush a great sculptural quality can be achieved. I like to see simple, broad, honest brushstrokes, confidently, often quickly applied and left, with no fussy blending or overworking. Along with this loose and confident mark, I really love to see lots of colours picked up from the palette at one go, and allowed to show side by side in the finished brushstroke, with little or no blending to dilute this 'first touch' effect. A single colour on the brush is never as lively on the canvas I feel. In some of my paintings I have achieved this, in others I may have concentrated a little too much on getting the right colour mixed on the palette first, only managing to mix the life out of the paint instead.

I aim to make interesting brushwork more of a feature in each painting in future. Well, I'll try.
For now, a couple more 'latest paintings'.

loose colourful oil painting of abandoned cottage in a woodland
'Abandoned Cottage'  10 x 12 inches, oil on canvas board.
All around me were patches and slabs of colour, shade and light filtered by the woodland trees, so very loose brushwork here, it just felt right when painting this abandoned cottage in the wood. The brushwork, though carefully thought out, is speedy and loose, fiddly detail here would not achieve the overall effect I wished for. I really enjoyed the brushwork in this painting, I think it helps to find the poetry in the subject more than highly descriptive detail might. The brushwork had to be visible and strong, earthy almost, better to portray the patchy sunlight, undergrowth, and scattered stonework. The eye is led past the old outhouse to the one cottage window, through which we glimpse a dark empty interior where once perhaps a family would have led their lives.

Indoor market oil painting
'Bargain Hunters'   10 x 8 inches, oil on board
An indoor market fish stall, a symphony of greys, punctuated by the brightly lit produce on display. Two well wrapped up ladies look for bargains while the merchant waits. Again I have used strong loose brushwork, this along with strong shadow greys and the central brightly lit area makes for an interesting painting, the subject I feel would have been much less interesting without this treatment.
I have entered this painting into the Doncaster Open Art Exhibition 2014, I should hear soon if it has been accepted or not, and will let you know. Fingers crossed.

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