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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Cordova

Art of the Brushstroke...

Updated: Jun 6

Teaching art is a fascinating journey. The more teaching I do, the more I learn how to break down the skills and techniques of creating original two-dimensional fine art.


In a recent class, one of my students asked me about the variety of brushstrokes she noticed I was using while painting an acrylic on canvas for demonstration. I’d not previously thought about teaching a whole lesson solely on how to use varied brushstrokes, and this sparked an excitement in me!


This student’s astute query opened a whole new layer of teaching for me, and the Art of the Brushstroke is something I now include in my teaching.


Brushstroke develops over years of an artist’s art-making practice and becomes more natural for the artist. There are all sorts of brushes with different shapes, sizes, and made of different types of bristles (natural and synthetic). It’s good to try different brushes and narrow it down to the ones you enjoy using most. I use round brushes ranging in sizes from large to small detail brushes. I like the control the round tips give me. When saturated with paint the round brush tip can even be pulled flat for a more versatile brushstroke.


Art of the Brushstroke
Art of the Brushstroke

Make sure to vary the brushstroke to provide more dynamic compositions. A curved brushstroke for hills and round, or cylindrical objects, a horizontal brushstroke for a background or sky, circular brushstrokes to express billowy clouds, a vertical brushstroke to contrast a horizontal composition, and on, and on. These are easier to domonstrate, than describe, but I hope you get the idea.


Experiment with varying brushstroke to become more comfortable with what works for you. Use drawing technique with your brush to clarify lines, and small details. Consider the difference between drawing and painting while you work.


A wash can change color hue, darken, or shade color, lighten, or tint color, create a foggy, or night effect, look like reflective water, and much more.


"Dry rub" technique softens lines, and transitions, creates texture, is used to layer, blend, change color hue, and value, plus much, much more.


Find your brushstroke varity by continuing to experiment, and work on your painting technique. You will have no choice, but to learn the Art of the Brushstroke as you go!

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