Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Minimal brushstrokes painting style

An exercise I have found quite useful in developing a looser style of painting is to do a painting with the fewest strokes possible. This requires minimal working of paint on the surface leading to a freshness of color that can be easily destroyed in just a few more strokes.

In Reflections, I have used a rather common scene of trees reflected in the water to demonstrate a minimal brushstrokes approach. The palette is restricted (ultramarine blue, sap green, cadmium yellow and titanium white) and I used the biggest brush I could force myself to pick! After all, this is a small canvas and the temptation was to reach for a small brush. The bigger brush allowed for the canvas to be covered quickly and with the self-imposed limit on brushstrokes, there was no choice but to leave the paint alone after it was down on the canvas.

Reflections, Acrylic on canvas board, 5”X7” (Not for sale)


  1. It has a nice feel to it. A bigger canvas and a bigger brush works - I take a class on Tuesdays and our teacher is always trying to get us to work bigger to get looser.

  2. Wow, a limited palette, a large brush, limited amount of brush strokes and a 5 x 7 board! Talk about a challenge! You met the challenge wonderfully. This reminds me of Monet's work. I envy you those brush strokes that appear in your painting - I miss that in watercolour. (Maybe I should get my acrylics back out, eh?) I love the blues of your sky and the sense of movement and light in the painting. Will you try this on a large canvas or board one day?

  3. Atul, This is a wonderful exercise and you achieved great results. To me, that is what painting is all about, stretching yourself with unfamiliar technique and more difficult subject matter with each attempt. Bravo!