Thursday, February 18, 2016

Brush finesse

While this booger surfs my respitory system I've been surfing the net and found a really good YouTube by Liu Yi. Here's a sample of his stuff:

He's a wonderful painter, but the filming angle and lighting of this video lets you see aspects of brush handling and paint manipulation better than most. The video is just an intimate little landscape with rocks and foliage, but you can see the brush orientation and can gauge the consistency of his paint. That's not easily verbalized in demos because a lot of that is tactile. There's no commentary on it but that's a plus - you just watch.

Here's the link And here's what to watch for.

1. The brush casts a shadow on the paper, forming a "V", the point of the letter being where the hairs contact the paper. If the "V" is narrow, the brush angle is shallow, contacting the paper on its side. If it's wide the brush angle is more vertical, using the tip. You'll catch on.
2. Note how light the touch is. He's not painting this like the trim on his house. He's leading and coaxing liquid around most of the time. Beginners - and too often experienced painters - dab and stroke away with dry-ish paint because it SEEMS more controlled. 
3. Yes, you will see him press down on the brush and splay it, but that's to get a specific mark. THE THING TO WATCH FOR is whether it leaves a little puddle of paint or a small bead he can lead along the surface. That means the brush was loaded with runny paint. If you don't see a puddle or bead, he's working with a dryer brush or stiffer, darker paint.
4. Note he uses a 9x12 Arches block with a relatively small oriental style brush - very like the Happy Dot brush many of us use. On other videos he uses just about every brush type there is...and different it's NOT THE GEAR. He knows the condition of his paper and the consistency of paint he's bringing to it.
5. Most of the video is classic light to dark watercolor process. There is one point where he scrapes (or rather squeegees) some light branches into a dark passage. It's not magic - you just have to wait until the water is BELOW the paper's surface and the paint on top is still moist. Then scrape it off. The mark stays because there's no water on the surface to flood paint back into that area.


  1. "It's NOT THE GEAR" is going to be the slogan for the ASA, art supplies anonymous. It's so fun to blame the gear so you can go out and buy shiny new stuff.

    1. Hi, my name is John and it's been 37 days since I opened my last tube of cobalt turquoise....