Thursday, November 26, 2009

Paint Brushes

The paintings are taking a well deserved Thanksgiving break.  So I am going to write about my paint brushes instead. 

Paint brushes?!!!  Who cares about paint brushes!  Oh contraire - I do.  Like the carpenter with his favorite tools or the chef with her own set of knives, painting with just any brushes won't do.  Won't do for many reasons.  You would not get the correct effect of the brushstrokes.  The wrong brushes would fatigue your hand.  And some brushes leave lots of annoying bristles or hair on the painting for you to pick up after.  To me, painting is like spreading warm butter on the canvas.  With the wrong brushes, it is just not as much fun.  My favorite are my Isabey mongoose and Kolinsky sable brushes.

Once, I Googled what type of paint brush did Van Gogh use for his signature brushstroke - the thick, dash-like strokes often seen in his skies and ground.  I did not find a definitive answer.  Experimenting on my own, I think it is the "round."  I was able to mimic the swirls and dashes a lot better with the round brushes.  I wonder, why did he lay on the paint so thickly?  Paint was expensive back then.  And he was broke.  Maybe for the effect?  Well, I digress.

I clean my brushes every time after use.  Because I paint with water mixable oil paint, the clean up is easy.  Taking care of the brushes is a discipline.  I use the Mona Lisa's Pink Soap Brush Cleaner and Preserver and The Master's Hand Soap.

  Lessons Learned and Hindsight - If I were to copy any artists' work, I try to remember to pay attention to the brushes used.  How to know - experiment before hand.  Also, I remind myself to change brushes.  It is easy to just keep painting with the same brush already in your hand. 
Just last week, my husband and I were at the art supply store for me to pick out a brush.  I couldn't decide between the two.  He gripped both and said, "If I were painting, I would pick this one.  This feels good in my hand."   He is not a painter, but he knows his tools.