Killing the Brush (Momentarily)

The best advice I have ever been given to date was to lose my paint brushes for two weeks. In fact, the painter I was training with at the time took them away. It’s a feeling of fear that hits you, my brushes I’ve always seen as an extra limb; an extension of myself. However to lose them for two weeks was the best thing I’d ever done. It’s a shock at first- in college I was taught to only use brushes to paint with alongside maybe some other conventional painting tools.

Abstract art, close up of texture.

Consider taking them away for a week. It gets your brain thinking and you try the oddest tools that just so happen to be the thing your paintings are missing. Rather than paintbrushes think foam paint rollers, window cleaners, scrapers for laying wallpaper. Sure your family and friends wont be particularly happy during this time- my mother is still mourning the loss of her spatula- but it really does make a huge difference. You spend the time finding all these new ways to make marks and textures. Use the tools in different ways; on wet paint or pastels, maybe drying layers. It definitely changes the way you look at things.

I still use my brushes (I couldn’t live without them) but I now use them roughly 50/50 with the other tools in my arsenal. My personal favourite to date is cake icing panels; they just have a way of layering acrylic that’s hard to put into words. I found that after the two weeks I was left with a haul of unfinished paintings because at the end of the day; I still needed my brushes. However it then becomes about integrating the brushes with these wacky household tools you’ve collected to find a happy balance to make the new marks fit as a whole. Once you figure out how to work the new textures and marks into your composition you’ll find the style takes on a whole new depth. It’s certainly painstaking getting there but I can’t convince you of how much it’s worth trying. So give those brushes to a friend or family member to stash away and re-purpose your kitchen utensils for a while; it really is worth it.

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West Sussex, England, UK