Big Brush Painting


August, 2016

Painting Techniques

Original Art

For a dynamic, bolder style in your paintings take out the biggest brush you own. I have an old Winsor & Newton size 20 flat brush that I used for almost the entire “Sheep with her Lambs” oil painting. The painting was completed in one afternoon on an 8 x 10 inch panel. The benefits will outweigh any anxiety you may have when you think the paint brush is way too big.

Start out with a subject that appeals to you. Look at the scene and decide if there is a good composition with a nice arrangement of darks and lights.

pencil sketching for layout of composition with darks and lights

Pencil sketch with values showing the composition for this scene.

The lightest value in this landscape of the sheep will be the lambs. The lambs look nice against the darker values in the background. They are a lighter color and in the bright sun. The large sheep is in the shadows and she is a darker value than the lambs.

Take out the biggest paintbrush you own.

landscape painting of sheep and her lambs is original painting 8 x10 oil on panel

These photos show most of the brushstrokes in this original oil. Each stroke was painted decisively with clean color. When painting wet into wet keep your color clean. Wipe off the brush and palette if needed. Stay away from muddy color with one brush stroke at a time. Use the edge of the large paintbrush for smaller areas. It’s amazing how a small stroke of color can be made with a large brush.

Other painting tips for this oil painting include:

  • Use a variety of greens in landscape paintings. Try using different reds to tone down the greens. Look close at this oil to see cooler, darker greens in the background with warmer, lighter greens in the foreground.
  • Try a variety of under-painting colors and let some show through. This also tones the canvas so it is not bright white when you start a painting.
try holding brush differently as shown in this original painting 8 x10 oil on panel

This photo shows one way of gripping a paintbrush. Try a variety of grips and use your whole arm not just your wrist. Here’s a big painting technique – Stand Up When Painting. I always stand when I am working on all my artwork. When painting it is easier to use your whole arm when you are standing.

Bonus for standing when painting – it’s healthier. Sitting for hours is just not good for your body. If you are sitting for any length of time try moving every hour. Sometimes I do 15 jog in place steps and then 15 jumping jacks just to move my body.

On larger paintings I position the easel across the room. I look at the painting from this distance, mix up color on my palette and walk over and apply the paint then head back and look again at the canvas from across the room. 

Try a much bigger brush in your next painting and I think you will be surprised how much better your work will be. These oil painting techniques will take a little practice but it is worth it. Stay away from little brushes, little strokes and you will see big improvements in your artwork.

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