The Dialect of the Brush

I was reading a blurb about Franz Hals and was struck by this sentence: “His brave and painterly brushwork marked the evolution of 17th century portraiture, and it was very admired by the Impressionist painters.” Quite a statement considering the 17th century in Holland was the Golden age of Painting with the likes of Rembrandt, Ruebens (although he is technically Flemish) and Vermeer. In Spain there was Velasquez. In Italy there was Caravaggio. Etc., etc.

“brave and painterly brushwork…”

The way an artist uses their brush can speak volumes. The whole movement of Impressionism, Pointillism and even Abstract Expressionism were all largely about the brush. When you think of the likes of Van Gogh, John Singer Sargeant and Frank Auerbach, their brushwork is likely the first thing that comes to your mind.
A week ago in class Dick commented that Leslie’s surface was “alive” with paint, but that his brushwork was dead.

What about yours—dead or alive? What does your brushwork communicate?

With another week of working on works in progress it is a great opportunity to play around with brushwork. Load it differently, dance with it, try different kinds of brushes, try different parts of the brush. Observe internet photos of some of the artists mentioned—zoom in. Save those scrap ends of full sheets of paper to practice you “language skills”. Turn language into song…..

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