4 Techniques To Create Energy In Your Brushstrokes

By Nicole Tinkham


If you’re looking to do something a little different with your paintings, it may be time to add some TEXTURE! In some artwork, artists try to hide brushstrokes but other times visible brushstrokes can create a really unique effect that adds to the painting. The concept sounds easy but getting brushstrokes just right can be challenging. There are many different ways to achieve the look but here are our favorite techniques for creating energy in your brushstrokes.

1.    Use a palette knife

A palette knife is an all-in-one artist tool that’s great for both mixing paint and actually painting with. You can apply thick impastos for a unique texture. A palette knife is a great way to add layers (wet paint on top of wet paint if you want) and create brilliant texture.

25 Tips For Using A Palette Knife

2.    Use various brushes

PLAY AROUND with brushes! There are so many different sizes and styles (big, small, angled, round, flat, filbert, natural, synthetic, soft) and each one will produce a different effect. Experiment with various brushes, moving them around in different ways to make brushstrokes more dynamic.

3.    Use a thickening medium

Using a thickening medium gives your brushstrokes more dimension and creates a fascinating texture. If working with oils, we recommend Galkyd Gel which will hold your brush marks. Feel free to experiment with different types and see what gives you the results you’re looking for.

4.    Use the scratch through technique

This is an interesting technique with oil paints that is actually used to prove a wet on wet painting was done all in one session (artists often sign their artwork this way). To do a scratch through, use the tip of your brush handle and scratch through the wet oil paint, revealing the color underneath. It may take some practice but play around with it until you get it just right.

As you experiment and play around with your brushstrokes, remember that they should add to your painting not take away from it. Your brushstrokes should not be the subject of the painting. Quality brushstrokes should have meaning behind them. They should show a certain mood, emotion, or story. They should be done purposeful and not just to do them. Sure they could be loose, random, and fun as long as that’s the feeling you want viewers to get from the painting.

We know that every artist is different. Some try to eliminate brushstrokes and others try to accentuate them. We’re curious, which type of artist are you? Let us know in the comments!

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