Friday, December 21, 2007

Twist and Twirl

tree practice with rigger brush
watercolor 7" x 11"
Stacy L. Rowan
This past Tuesday, the art ladies and I didn’t get a whole lot of painting done. You see, we had a holiday luncheon instead of our normal brown bag lunch. (Does anyone actually use those brown bags for lunch anymore?) Everyone brought something yummy to share, and we took our time chatting and eating.

After a filling lunch, I was more motivated for a nap than for serious painting. So I was happy when one of the ladies offered to show us how to use our new rigger brush to paint realistic tree branches.

The trick is to lightly place the tip of the brush on the paper. Hold the brush loosely between your thumb and index finger near the top of the brush. Now as you move the brush in the direction of the branch, use your finger to gently and slowly twist the brush back and forth. The twisting motion is what gives the branch a realistic shape.

I'm not actually a lefty. I just had to hold the camera with my right hand to take the picture. :)

As you practice and get more skilled with the technique, try to apply more pressure at the beginning of the brush stroke and decrease the pressure toward the end of the stroke. This will make the branch thicker at the start and thinner at the tip.

You can also use different sized rigger brushes to create different line widths. I used a size 6, a size 4 and another smaller brush for this practice (see picture).

This technique was really helpful to me. I am always challenged when I need to recreate the random nature of things like tree branches. My analytical side fights to create order instead. But the twisting motion of the brush made it much easier.

So next time you want to paint a tree, give this method a try. You might be pleasantly surprised!


Robyn said...

Stacy - I've just tried it! That's a fantastic tip! Thank you.
Good luck with revising your German this year and I really have to get over here more often to visit your blog. It was lovely to have you drop in on mine.

Stacy said...

Robyn, I'm glad you tried the tip and were able to get it to work from my written directions. I thought after I posted that a video really would have been much more helpful! But I was so happy that someone shared this technique with me, I was anxious to pass it on. I'll be checking your blog watching for watercolor trees.