Yet more painting practice


I’m working from another painting by Daniel Gerhartz. I chose this one because the brush work is bold enough for me to easily read it.

I’m using a custom brush that’s giving some of the results I’m after. This go round I’m color picking as I just want to focus on emulating, or at lest trying to emulate, the brush work.


Today’s progress.


Though still far from a true copy, it’s been the best I’ve done to this point. I saw more and understood better what I was seeing. I tended to over exaggerate the paint strokes and didn’t get them placed correctly in many instances.


One very important thing to learn about brushwork, is that no brushstroke exists without context. In fact, it’s very often the context that drives brushwork decisions.

Brushstrokes convey form, controls readability, manage edges, selectively detail (thus control focal points), creates visual interest (even the most inconsequential areas in your painting should still entertain your audience, just like no movie or book should have boring parts–every part matters to the overall grand scheme of the work), and so on.

There are going to be many things about brushwork that you will not understand right now, no matter how faithfully you copy, because you lack the insights of the overall context I mentioned. To advance forward, you’ll have to place just as much priority in the study of the visual art foundations (composition, perspective, values, lighting, color theory, anatomy/figure, etc). In a way, brushwork is really a layer of skin over all of that underlying structure that creates the context, similar to how we look externally has to be build on the internal structure of bones, muscles, fat, blood vessels, etc.


I realized as I was doing this that I don’t understand what drove the painter’s artistic decisions. Whatever understanding or inspiration he had is lost to me. I’m at best parroting the surface form and color. Artistically speaking, it leaves me with an empty feeling.

The exercise is valuable however. My control over the program increases with every attempt. I see more of the elements of an image and how they all work together as a whole.


The painting is done in a painterly, impressionistic style, which uses scumbling and dry brush, and loose, expressive brush strokes. It’s VERY difficult to capture this digitally, so don’t feel too bad. You might want to download a trial copy of Painter, it has more of an organic approach to brushes, but be warned, it has a steep learning curve.

Painting that way is something you have to experience to really “get” - since I came from a traditional art background (and a deep love for Impressionism), I get the painting. Also, the artist could have been working much larger in real life, so the small, flick of the finger strokes you are doing with a Wacom is a different experience if the artist is using their whole arm to make bigger strokes with a brush. That’s why figure drawing in real life is so different, it’s about using a large piece of paper, like 24x36" or bigger, and using your entire arm to make long, continuous strokes with the charcoal - if you’re doing it right, your arm should be sore after class! That can’t be experienced digitally, until they make 24x36" Wacom Cintiqs.

If you want to head towards this style of painting, digitally or for real, jump into Impressionism and start studying the masters, like Monet, and try to work out how to be more expressive with a Wacom, like saving up for a bigger tablet.


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