Painterly is a term used to describe works in which the brushstrokes are clearly visible. Often characterized by thick, gooey brushstrokes applied in a loose style, painterly pieces make brushstrokes?which become like the artist?s handwriting?an integral part of the painting?s expressive quality. Although oil painting is typically associated with strong brushwork, all media can be used to create more painterly results.
To achieve a painterly look in oils, allow the brush to describe the shape and character of the object rather than simply filling in an area. Experiment with turning and twisting your brush as you apply the paint so that some strokes are wide and others narrow. To create an integration of colors in one stroke, try dragging your brush through more than one color on your palette. If you paint with watercolor, use a large brush and sweeping strokes to produce the gesture of a cloud or a mountainside and use smaller brushes for more detailed areas. With pastels, leaving strokes or layers of different colors unblended can energize your subject and give your work a more painterly feel.
If your paintings begin to feel dull and lifeless, try doing a small painting in two hours or less, focusing on making every brushstroke count. This exercise will sharpen your eye and help you create more painterly pieces one brushstroke at a time.
Kristine Kadlec is a designer, artist and writer living in Los Angeles, California. Her still life paper weave collage artwork has been exhibited nationally. Her award-winning Paper Weave Pins (pictured at left) are sold nationally through museums and galleries. She can be contacted at email@example.com.