Lesson 2.2 – Brushstrokes

Today I worked through an exercise in different ways to use a paint brush.  The course I’m following is for oil paints and I am seeing how it can be applied to gouache painting.

Here’s the way I set the exercise out:


Here are my findings:

Flat strokes – these are very easy with gouache paint; gouache seems perfectly suited to clear flat brushstrokes.  It also had a peculiar quality which I’ve not seen with any o0ther type of paint where, once dried brush strokes can’t be seen at all.  This quality had enormous potential but also mean that one has to specifically work to make brush stokes visable when they are wanted.

Painting edge strokes – with a flat brush these were easy – thicker paint worked better than thinner paint for this.  Although not shown on my exercise sheet, by using a smaller flat brush i could get some really ultra-fine edge strokes.  These might be useful for painting hair on humans and animals.

Lines – curves and ‘grass’ effects – these are really easy with gouache.  It’s almost like using a brush with ink.

Impasto – this can be done with gouache when it’s thick enough but the final result is still rather flat looking becuase the paint dries very matt – with no shine or lustre at all.  I guess this could be corrected for with a gloss spray varnish but this can change the colours a bit.  It is something I’m going to try out as it can protect the painting quite effectively.

Dry brush work – this is easy with gouache and really effective.  It would work well to provide texture if you painted some flat colour and then used a second colour or shade over the top with a dry brush technique.

Bumpy texture – this is easy too but again the lack of shine in the finished paint leaves it looking flat compared to oils.

Flip flop strokes – these work well in gouache and provide some gentle and easily controllable texture.  I likes teh result.

Scumbling – this looks cool and is fascinating to watch as it goes onto the paper in an irregular way.  Like all of the raised, textural techniques, it’s not as effective as oils because the paint is so matt when dried.

Blending – gouache paint is a dream to blend.  For me this is it’s greatest strength as a medium.


I think I learned quite a bit from doing this, but I do find exercises like this a bit of a chore compared to the excitement of making an actual painting.  Perhaps there’s a way to paint pictures and explore these exercises at the same time?

4 thoughts on “Lesson 2.2 – Brushstrokes

  1. Thanks! For me being an artist feels like my last chance to earn a living so I’m working hard at it. What with the autism and the neuropathic pain and heart issues I’ve got, any other sort of work seems beyond my reach so I want to learn enough to be able to make a living in art. I’m not bothered about being famous or ultra successful, but if I can pull in the equivanlent of a half-time to full-time paycheck even at minimum wage I will be very pleased. At least I will be able to hold me head up high.
    I really like the tapered flat brushes too – they are very versatile, although my favourite is a medium sized round brush with a good point.

    Thanks for your encouragement! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are learning so much! And TEACHING so much. It’s great to try different methods. I am just finishing my latest work. I have about 2 hours work to finish it tomorrow. I plan to show how I completed this work showing different stages of the painting with reference photos.
    One thing I have learnt about brushes when using oils…I dont know if it’s the same with goache but using different sized stiff flat brushes work the best to push the paint to where you want it. The other brush that has been very useful is like a flat brush with the top tapered on the sides… like the corners cut off. I find this brush good for holding paint and because of the edges you can get many different uses out of it just by twisting it in your fingers. Love you work Jo. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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