Brilliant Brushwork for Painters with these Quick Tips

Brushwork for artists is critical for interesting paintings. Use these Professional tips to improve your brushwork right now.

Today I'm going to be talking about brushwork and give you some tips for better brushwork in your paintings.

For those of you starting out with your painting, you may be finding that brushwork is a mysterious thing and you don't really know where to begin with brushwork, except, of course, to mechanically put paint onto the canvas and hope for the best. I know, I've been there and it's a real struggle. 

So I want to give you a few tips on on how to break through that frustration of identical brushwork that leave you with overworked paintings.


The three recommended brushes that you should have. First off, with oil painting, I recommend that you use bristle brushes. Bristles handle the oil so much better, and especially if you're painting in an impressionist style where you use lots of thick paint.  I find that a bristle brush is the only way to manage it.

The Filbert Brush: 

It's got long bristles ending in a rounded shape. It is extremely versatile. It's the brush I use in the little painting demonstration in the video. That rounded shape helps to soften edges. Of course, you've got the edge of the brush, the face of the brush and you've got the top as well to make different sizes of brush mark.

    The Long Flat

    The next brush is a long flat. It's got long bristles which squared off at the top. It's probably my favorite shape of brush. Extremely versatile. You can use the sharp corners as well for small marks. Big strokes using the entire face of the brush. Small shapes if you use the front edge to make lines. But all created in a way that doesn't make the shape too precise.

    That little touch of texture and vagueness helps to keep things interesting. That's what's important to me. 

    The Round Brush

    And then the next one I use is a round brush. It has the rounded sort of shape at the top, the typical round brush, and is also extremely versatile. Once there's paint on you can make many beautiful shapes with it. Longer strokes, more organic shapes and small dots and dashes. I suggest that you have all three kind of brushes.

    Sizes? I use a range between size 4, 6 and 8. 

    By the way, these brushes are made by Raphael, a French company. They made brushes for the impressionists as well.

     How to Hold the Brush

    Another thing I always say is a brush must be held loosely. It is not something you have white knuckles, clenching it with a death grip and keeping your elbow stiff and your wrist stiff. Then jabbing at the the canvas. This approach will not help your painting.

    Everything must be flowing

    Use your arm, not just your hand. If you can stand back and use your arm to paint in a more organic, loose and flowing fashion. Your paintings will benefit with that approach.  I like to hold the brush handle between thumb and four fingers. It's not a pencil. It's not a weapon.

    More like the drumstick. Hold it at the end and get the paint on in bigger movements of arm and hand. It's almost like a magic wand if you use it properly. With that loose grip as well, I can move the thumb and fingers and just let that brush work.

    Painting Demonstration

    In the I'm using a number six filbert bristle brush. You can see that by using the top of the brush and the edge I can get delicate, lost and found brush strokes.

    Then by twisting the brush, I use the full face of it, to get big and juicy brush strokes. 

    Move the brush up and down or side to side, twist the head of the brush and see the different textured strokes you can get. By varying the pressure on the brush, I can create loose, soft edges, almost atmospheric brush strokes. 

    I like to apply the paint wet into wet. Gently apply the wet paint over the wet surface and you'll get clean color notes. Don't mix in or don't press too hard. You will muddy up the paint and lose the texture of the stroke.

    Watch and Learn What Shapes Your Brush Makes

    Be conscious. Look at the shape of the brush stroke you are getting, take note of it and decide if you like it. By lifting off very quickly and confidently, you'll leave a clean color note behind. Put down the stroke and then leave it alone. These curving sweeps up and down, get me different looking strokes. Roll the brush in your fingertips and you get interesting lines.

    Well, I hope you approach your brushes with a bit more confidence and make your brush your friend. Have fun exploring the different brush strokes that you can do with them. And remember, look after your brushes. Make sure you wash them at the end of each day and clean them off. I prefer mineral turpentine. You can have a look at other videos on my channel about brush cleaning as well. 

    So that's it. Remember to subscribe before you go and you will receive my best articles and special deals.

    I love hearing from you as well. Till next time. Happy painting.

    Categories: Painting Tips, oil painting, acrylic painting, brushwork