Thursday, April 8, 2021

Ever Tried This?

 "Dry brushing" may sound like an oxymoron; since Day 1, we've been dipping our brushes into paint, then running the bristles across a substrate -- the point being, obviously, to cover a surface with a layer of paint!

Somewhere along the way, however, someone discovered or developed the technique of dry brushing.  For anyone like me, who likes to overdo everything when it comes to paint, this might seem a hard technique to master. 

But a little practice works magic!  And the results of dry brushing with stencils are rewarding -- especially for me, since I love to find ways of achieving new looks with my stencils and masks.

I've been taught that the way to paint with acrylics is to first dip brush bristles into water, then use forefinger and thumb to squeeze excess water back out.  Result:  a damp brush tip that now gets dipped into paint.

The technique of dry brushing skips that water dunking.

The bristles need to be dry; only the tips will be brushed into paint.    

First, try a dry run.  Crumble some scrap paper, enough to make a textured surface for practice --

Above:  Only the tips of the big brush have been just slightly loaded with acrylic paint.  The next step:  Lightly brush the bristles over the textured surface.

During my own practice time, I started with soft-bristled brushes.  Eventually, however, I decided the brush that works best for me, personally, is a brush with very stiff bristles.  So that's the kind of brush I've used in all the following photos.

Above, part of my 9" x 12" mask Blooming Where Planted has been masking-taped to a substrate.  Especially with this technique, I find it very helpful to secure the stencil in some way.  Dry brushing across the texture of a stencil will make the stencil want to move, unless it's held firmly in place.  

Below is a similar shot, this time, with my 9" x 12" mask Prayer Flags being put to work on stretched, gallery-wrapped canvas. 

In the close-up below, you can see that, on this particular piece, I've dry brushed all the way down the length of the stencil.  (The round splashes of green paint were applied earlier and were dry before I started dry brushing.)

Below are two shots of this stretched canvas, showing what the surface looks like, now that the stencil has been lifted.


I'm ending today's post with a warning -- it's so easy (at least, for me)  to load too much paint onto your brush when first approaching this technique!  Below is a shot of what happens when the brush is over-loaded with paint.  In this case, the stencil used was my 6" x 6" mask Webbed Medallion -

Above:  If you're trying for the effects of the dry brushing techniques, the painting above is a "failure."  But a whole different viewpoint maintains that it's a success.  An artist always has "poetic license" to say,  "I wanted it to come out like this!" 

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