Loose Brush Strokes
If your paintings seem rigid and constrained, you may want to try a looser style such as in this painting, “Seated Model” by Henry Yan. Painting loosely, sometimes called “painterly,” means that brush strokes are visible and meaningful. Loose brush strokes can bring softness and excitement to colors and the outcome can be surprising. The presence of brushstrokes in the finished work is not by chance, but something very important to the work of art. With diligence and practice, in time you will loosen up the way you paint. Loose brush strokes are easy to learn and here are some things you can try which will help you loosen up:
- Use lots of different kinds of brush strokes (repetitive strokes are boring for the viewer).
- Vary the size and direction of your brush strokes.
- To hold the integrity of the painting, don’t blend the brush strokes with each other.
- Keep the strokes of your brush loose-looking and unrefined (produces a feeling of motion and freedom).
- Once you lay the paint on, leave it (don’t scrub it onto the canvas).
- Paint with large brushes as much as possible.
- Do not add details or do lots of refining (makes the painting unexciting and leaves nothing to delight your audience).
- Use lots of thick paint, which creates lovely, light-reflecting texture. So what if some gets wasted!
- Using a brush with a long handle, stand back from your painting and make quick, free strokes on the canvas.
- Paint the whole painting at the same time, cycling around it, and do not focus on any one area (the total painting is significant).
- Don’t fix every inaccuracy or error (every good painting has fantastic mistakes that the painter chose not to fix).
- Keep your intellect out of the process of painting (paint with your feelings, not your intellect).