By Linda Lover
Even before I actually began to paint, there were many artists that I admired; some for their technique, some for their design and some for both. Though one might see quite a difference between two of my favorites, Claude Monet and Grandma Moses, I notice various similarities. They both painted what was around them, what they were familiar with and what they loved. Each applied their style of impressionistic techniques to capture and express how they saw things. Both painted with an abundance of wonderful colors and both painted into old age. However, one was formally trained and the other was not; yet both have their works exhibited in museums and have names highly regarded in the world of art.
In the ‘70’s when I opted to give painting a try, tole was “in”. Most of it reflected stroke work in florals, daisies in particular. It then moved on to geese and the like where highlighting and shading gave the effect of dimension and new mixed colors began to emerge. A short time later, learn to paint books began to arrive with decorative landscapes. It was a great time for painting!
As I read Jill Smith’s article on brushes, it took me back to when I began to paint, only having about a dozen in a few select shapes and sizes. It’s great to have all the brushes that I've accumulated through the years, but I know that I could still paint with just a few. Quality is important for longevity and performance, and you can do just about everything with the traditional brushes as we have come to know them. The specialty brushes took off just over ten years ago and have gradually continued to enter the market.
What I found with these brushes are that some can simplify techniques and speed up painting while some are limited. For example, the Loew-Cornell double filbert can give two strokes in one and is wonderful for quick ruffled effects among other things. Sharon’s Shining Feather Soft Stroke brush simplifies painting fur and feather, giving a realistic finish. The deer foot is somewhere between traditional and specialty and is one brush that I rely on for much of my impressionistic applications.
It’s my feeling that brushes and applications are the choice of the painter, and to say that there is a correct way is not always so; what works for one artist may not work for another or it may only be a choice of preference of one brush over another. Always interested in impressionistic applications, I like to see how other painters apply this technique. And of course, the way I like to use a particular brush can differ from how another painter chooses to use it but the final result is that we both achieve the desired effect we want.
I like to use a brush dry for stippling and if it’s been wet, I remove as much moisture as possible. Though stippling is a free form, there’s an element of control that I like to keep, especially when shaping a subject. When using a bristle angle, I like the brush toe to basically retain its point, particularly when it comes to evergreens. If a bristle angle is splayed and limp from being soaked, it looses the capacity for this. It also can no longer be used on side edge and the ability to use it for wood graining can be lost.
When it comes to using the deer foot, it can be applied in alternative ways as well. It can be turned on a pivot for a circle and it can be used for stroke work, such as a fence post or even flower petals. The deer foot can be applied flush, on the toe or heel or just touched using very few bristle tips and minimal paint. Color application can be double loaded or singled loaded with colors added in step by step fashion which adds even more versatility to this brush.
Impressionism is a way of painting that allows the artist to present the feeling of a quick glimpse. It’s also about the play of color and light and how it changes and creates movement. It’s more about visual effects than detail. It’s not an exact representation but rather the artist’s perception.
Early impressionism was full of broken brush strokes and the painter’s desire to achieve “color vibration”, which is truly something evident in Monet’s garden paintings. And you can also see it Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” with flow of movement. I like the dreamy effect that impressionism can create and, for me, it’s a technique that is uncomplicated because it’s not about fine, structured detail. However, this technique often does not appeal to artists who prefer a structured and controlled stroke with fine detail.
This is the beauty of art; we have so many choices for expressing what we see. A sunflower, for example, can be painted impressionistically such as Van Gogh’s with ragged edges and broken strokes or vaguely stippled giving the impression of sunflower fields. It can be painted with an exactness, smooth edges, and precise centers, close to botanical detail or with watercolors letting wet paint freely blend colors. It can also be painted in a whimsical fashion or stark and plain in a primitive style. No one can say which one is more beautiful or the correct way to paint a sunflower because they are all works of art and appreciated for their individuality. Along with how the sunflower was painted also dictates to the use of a particular brush(es).
Quote by Georgia O’Keefe: “When you walk along a country road and notice a little tuft of grass…the next time you pass that way you must stop to see how it is getting along and how much it has grown.”
"Examples or illustrations of simple (easy) impressionistic techniques using stippling