Oil Painting: Development of Brush Work

I got much farther on that commission than I was expecting to today. This is good news, as it means I can get to work on my final canvas earlier than I had thought. I am definitely planning on revisiting every painting one more time before I finish everything up.

When I was in the studio today, I had the first, smaller scale paintings that I had completed earlier in the summer sitting in a pile in the corner. I hadn’t looked at these paintings since I’ve been so preoccupied with the large canvasses. The odd thing is that while I’ve been working on these large canvasses, I haven’t really considered myself changing my painting approach, although it’s clear from looking at the earlier pieces that my brushwork has changed quite a bit. I think the main difference is that my brushwork has become much more direct. Earlier in the process I was relying much more on wiping away with the rag, whereas these later pieces are almost exclusively done with a dry brush, instead of working with a more wash-like effect. I definitely want to continue this work with the dry brushing approach. Somehow, I like the level of control I have with a dry brush, and you’re still able to layer the paint. At the same time, the direction of the brush is so apparent and it’s easier to show that movement in your brushwork. For my next series I’m thinking about doing small scale dry brush paintings in acrylic paint just to play around with this approach more. This could be a good way to get more experience with this painting approach without having to go through all the trouble to prepare surfaces for oil paintings. I don’t really like the look of acrylic paint very much, but I think it certainly has its uses in terms of sketching and getting quick results within a painting context.

An detail of an earlier painting. I relied more heavily on the reductive process of wiping out the paint with the rag, giving the image a thinner, more wash-like effect.

A detail of a later painting which focuses more on the use of direct dry brushing on the surface. I also try as much as possible to take advantage of the surface texture created by the build up of white paint on the canvas. This method is more to the point, there is no reworking of the surface once the paint has been applied.


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