A STROKE OF DRAMA
A Stroke of Drama
I must confess from the outset, that when looking through an art show, I zero-in on paintings with brush strokes. For me, there is nothing more exciting about a painting than seeing evidence of the brush. And that includes knife marks and pastel strokes.
Importantly, the brush stroke tells me straight away that it is indeed a painting and not a photograph or a painting pretending to be a photograph. Evidence of the brush shows there's been an artist at work!
Of all the things that go into a painting …colour, form, tone and composition, brushwork seems to come last. Without it however, paintings can look perfect but they can also be dull and uninteresting.
Blending on the canvas is a real culprit and it’s seen in all genres. There‘s certainly a place for blending but when a whole painting is blended, this tender loving kindness can completely kill it.
Leaving evidence of the brush can work for all subjects including florals and portraits. The assumption that floral work and portraits are dependent on a lot of blending is simply not true. The very best and liveliest examples of these genres have plenty of brush in them. American master artist Richard Schmid uses pronounced brush work in all his paintings and it ‘s well worth having a look at them.
Breaking the blending spell
Blending, particularly with oil paint is quite therapeutic and if that is what you need then keep on doing it. But if you’re concerned about the painting it‘s worth breaking that 'blending spell'. It will take persistence and practice. And most of all it will mean a change of mindset to get away from the idea that we need to aim for perfection when we paint .
So, what are the benefits of leaving some brush-marks on the canvas?
* It gives animation - Brushy paintings are the painting equivalent to a movie. Those seemingly random marks bring an artwork to life and attract attention. It may be a painting but the mind sees it move!
* It shows confidence - It's hard to do a good brushy painting without being confident and that's just what brush strokes can show.
* It shows joy of freedom - A laboured exact painting can attract awe, but brush-marks will exude the joyous freedom of the artist's brush. This joy comes out in the painting with amazing energy.
* It increases artists enjoyment - I can't begin to tell you how enjoyable it is to abandon the quest for exactness. A one-hour confident brushy painting is certainly more satisfying than an 20 hour slog to get things exact and may I say much better to look at.