Whether you make art to sell or for therapy, allowing yourself to shine through your work is something you shouldn’t shy away from. You don’t have to spend years of studying to be able to express yourself. We all have feelings and emotions that we can use in our artwork. Whether on paper, canvas or clay, self-expression normally begins with some sort of mark, even for photorealistic painters.
Your marks make you special
Imagine a straight line. If you were to draw or paint a straight line without a ruler, it might be a little shaky. For some people that can be upsetting and create a feeling of failure, but for me it brings me closer to the person behind it. That singular mark is what makes you special, so embrace the shakes!
Some of the greatest artists can be identified through their marks. Van Gogh is a good example of this. When I saw his work in the Van Gogh museum I couldn’t help but feel his presence through his brushstrokes – his marks are so alive and expressive.
What makes you special is how you interpret your subject, whether through mark making, powerful subject matter or strong colour, these elements will make you stand out. Many people comment on the sense of movement in my own paintings – marks going in different directions with flicks, twists and turns are what create this impression. Every mark is as important as the next and I want the viewer to enjoy the scene through my own energy encompassed in every mark made.
Sometimes we can get too comfortable when producing our paintings. Marks can appear dull, lifeless and overworked. I can normally tell when I view a painting if someone has got bored as their marks become repetitive. A good example of this is when painting grass, lots of similar lines all going in the same direction with a tiny brush. Stepping out of your comfort zone will create another dimension to your work and help you evolve as an artist. You can make a start by:
- l Trading in your tiny brushes for a large brush
- l Use your largest brush for details
- l Use your whole arm rather than working from the wrist, which gives
- l Paint a subject unfamiliar to you, even something you don’t like!
- l Work larger or smaller
- l On a small surface, don’t scale down brush size, use a large brush
- l Restrict your equipment: one or two brushes
- l Restrict your colour palette
Initially you may feel uncomfortable and awkward but it’s purely for your own benefit – no one else needs to see your experimental artworks. For me art is about exploring the different ways in which a subject can be interpreted, not being predictable.
DEMONSTRATION One Brush Does All
People gasp when I show them my large brushes. I guess to most people a large brush appears scary and uncontrollable but
it’s not the size that matters, rather the marks it creates. Here’s how I develop a picture from start to finish using one 2in brush