The number one request I receive from my students is how to paint more loosely. We humans have this need to take the crazy out of life and tighten everything up to be neat and organized. That’s great in your closet, but not so great when you want a loose and free painting. I’ve found some very successful ways for my students to loosen up and they are easy for you to try. They are a tad crazy, but they work!
- Paint upside down. Yep, I am so serious. Why? It turns “off” the left side of your brain, so you are painting what you see (shapes) and not what you know. If you are painting from a photo, then turn it upside down too.
- Paint with your opposite hand. Now don’t moan. You will be so amazed at the results. Again, you are a little out of control and that means your painting will be looser. There’s a reason why kid’s art is so appealing; they don’t have the control in their hands yet. So, let go and loosen up.
- Put on some great music. It’s amazing what a good rhythm will do for your brushwork. Your brush will literally start dancing as you get swept up in the music. Two of my favorites: Vitamin String Quartet and Vivaldi.
- Use BIG brushes. Pick up a brush twice as big as you normally use. I like big, cheap painter brushes for my loose work. Magic!
- Use a palette knife like I am in the photo above.
- Use a big canvas and cover it quickly. The one I'm working on in the photo is 4 feet by 5 feet! WHOA!
- Hold your brush on the end like you would a violin bow. Do NOT hold it like a pencil. You want the brush to be loose in you hand so it can move freely.
- Stand at arm’s length from your painting.
- Well, this one is kind of funny. I’ve had a few night classes and served wine. It’s rather comical how students loosen up with a glass of wine. I don’t recommend this for an all day painting session, but perhaps on a warm summer evening when you’re in the mood to paint, give the grapes a try!