Tuesday, July 1, 2014

4 Basic Watercolor Brush Strokes

Hey friends! I'm back with another art lesson, it has been awhile and I'm sorry. I've been a bit busy and just waiting for a day to sit down and really think about some of the basics of watercolor to share with y'all. Last month I shared Basic Watercolor Supplies and now I'm gonna share some easy exercises to help in techniques that can be used to create stunning paintings. I've also finished up a few other posts to share next week with some other finishing technique exercises, so be sure to check back!

For these exercises you will see how many different brush strokes you can create with a single round #9 brush. These four exercises are things that help you understand your brushes and how your paint interacts with brush, paper, and each other.  

This first exercise, Color Bands, is to teach how to make even, consistent strokes. 

First, mix up a couple different puddles of color and fill your brush. (The larger the brush the larger amount of watercolor it can hold). 

Pull your brush across your page in any way that suits your fancy. Try and keep the color smooth, if you begin to run out of color simply refill your brush and pick up where you left off. 

This is where the challenge begins. Once your first line is down pick up a second color and follow that line as closely as possible. Learning to control your brush is extremely important, a trick for a design like this one is to focus on the white line you are creating between the two waves of color. 

Continue to do this across your entire page, try and test yourself to see how small you can make the white stripe between colors with out muddying them up. 

When working with a wet medium like watercolor if you slightly touch a recently wet service your colors will bleed in to each other. Some times this is desired and can create beautifully happy accidents. However, you need to learn to control this because this can often create a "muddy" look in your colorations. 

Above you can see where my red stripe began to puddle from excess water/color. Once beautiful thing about watercolor is that you can easily control the pigment. If you have too much of a color in a certain spot grab a clean, dry, brush and place it over the puddle. The dry hairs will wick up the excess moister and prevent dark spots, but be careful this can also create light spots in a wash. Just be sure to watch how much pigment you pick up and put down when looking to create a smooth wash. 

This second exercise is to familiarize you with brush pressure.
Simple put, the more pressure/weight you put on your brush the wider your stroke will be.
Play around with a similar technique as the first by creating waves but instead of moving your brush up and down or side to side simply change the amount of pressure you are applying to your brush.

Your different brushes will create different shapes so try it out with multiple brushes until you get the hang of it.

This final exercise is called the flick. This stroke is perfect for creating whimsical outdoor scenes and believable hair/fur/feathers. Be sure to practice this technique in varying weights and thickness to capture the depth when rendering grass/branches.

This stroke is easiest with a round brush that will allow you to move from a thick base to barely there tip.

For this flick you will want to start with your brush tip pointing back down towards your body, allowing for your wrist to flick upwards. To have better control over your flick you can rest your painting hand over your support hand, giving you height and stability to create unique strokes by simply moving your wrist.

Finally, to achieve a painterly stroke grab a large round brush and fill with paint. 

This technique works well with the brush pressure exercise because the different dabs you make will take unique shapes depending on the amount of pressure on your bristles.

Part of the beauty of painterly work is that it is all about seeing the strokes, and movement of color. So fill you brush up and start loosely moving your brush across your paper. Once you are family with the different, natural shapes your brushes can make you can start to form landscapes and other paintings. 

These 4 brush strokes are simple, yet can be used to create beautifully crafted paintings. Each of these exercises is important for control of your pigment, next week (hopefully) I will be sharing how to create washes that can be used as back grounds for these new strokes you've learned!! And don't forget to check out my basic watercolor supplies post that points you to some of the materials needed to start your own watercolor adventures :)

If you have any questions let me know! This is just a quick example of some of the things that help remind me how you watercolor works, and I would love to hear how your experience with liquid pigment goes! 
 photo gracie-sig_zps2d86285f.jpg

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