What a pleasure it is to bring you the work of Jean Haines today, including her advice for using watercolor brushes. Her paintings can be described as atmospheric; the word ephemeral also comes to my mind when I view them. Somehow she paints the soul of her subjects, and they remind me how much of a blur life is when we look back. Someone I look up to once said that you might forget the things that a person says to you, but you’ll always remember the way they made you feel. Jean’s paintings do this–they bring to mind fleeting moments and even sounds, but the details no longer matter.
By the way, Jean has four new videos on how to paint with watercolor. Watch all of her workshops at ArtistsNetworkTV today! Happy painting! ~Cherie
A Brush With Watercolor Brushes by Jean Haines
“Studying how to handle brushes makes a huge difference, not only to our confidence as artists but also to our pleasure when creating.”
Getting to know how to use your watercolor brushes is vital as an artist, but it’s a skill many don’t master correctly. Using the right size brush at the right time can make a big difference to both your art and your painting results. I was fortunate to have studied Asian brushwork, which makes a huge difference not only to my confidence as an artist but also to the pleasure I gain from creating.
I hold my brushes at a variety of angles to the paper. I also hold my brushes in a number of positions. When working on fine detail in paintings, I place my hand close to the sable tip, which gives me more control. But when painting long, fine lines I often hold my brush at the farthest end of the handle. This gives me more freedom, which is even more beneficial when using my whole arm rather than just my wrist to paint. I gain movement when doing so. Studying brush handling has enhanced my skill as an artist and I am so grateful for my time studying this skill while living in China.
Mostly I work with my size 10 brush. I can paint by holding the brush vertically to use just the tip. When held against the paper lengthwise on its side, the brush will make wider brushstrokes, and it is brilliant for my ‘working from a starting point’ techniques.
The larger the watercolor brush used, the larger the brushstroke will be. I simplify and make life easier by selecting the right brush for the area I wish to cover on paper. My size 12 brush is used in the same way as my size 10. This means I can paint a subject covering a larger area more easily. I also use this brush for washes on medium- to large- sized paper.
Every artist has favorite brushes which they enjoy using. Sometimes it takes time to work out which ones work best for you, but four brushes are all I need to create my watercolors–and I would be lost without them! The four brushes I use for all of my work are the rigger, size 10, size 12 and, the largest of all, my mop brush for larger paintings. A mop brush is invaluable for painting washes covering large areas of paper.
The only other addition to my brush collection is a well-used toothbrush for spattering techniques. It takes time to mould a toothbrush to spatter just the way you want it to. I spatter at an angle onto wet or dry paper, which gives me wonderfully unique results. Spattering onto dry paper will give you neat dots of color, while spattering onto wet paper will allow the color to fuse softly with the water. Try spattering onto wet paper. Allow this first application to dry completely then spatter again onto dry paper with the soft fusions from the previous application of dots acting as a backdrop. The results are beautiful.
A Final Word of Advice
Whatever your artistic level, please pick up your brushes as often as possible and paint. Paint yourself into a relaxed mood, or a happy mood or a quiet mood. But just paint–because there is no better feeling than when watching color flow across paper. I seriously believe we are all artists, but some of us haven’t realized it yet.
And if you hope to get your work into galleries, please follow my advice and aim to be original. Gallery owners are not always looking to take on new artists who paint the same as everyone else. So finding your own style and your own favorite subjects will help you so much if you wish to have an art career. I can’t stress these words enough: Be unique. ~Jean
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