Mixed-Media Painting: Let's Brush Up!

Last Christmas I asked my husband for some good-quality, basic paintbrushes. I figured that would be an easy shopping trip for him as enjoys going to the art supply store and you could characterize "paintbrushes" as a tool. (He loves to buy tools, even if they are for me.)

After spreading paint onto damp paper with a wide brush,
Diana Trout sprinkles salt on the surface to create texture.

But the plan backfired a bit, because neither of us was prepared for the enormous variety of paintbrushes available: not only different styles for different purposes, but sizes and materials (synthetic vs. natural), too. Also, because of my mixed-media proclivities, my husband didn't know whether I needed brushes for watercolor, acrylic painting, spreading gesso all over the place, or what. (The answer would be "yes" to all.)

So, I received three very nice brushes that I've been experimenting with. One of my favorites is a fat flat brush that can spread color, water, or gesso in a wide swath over paper or canvas. I've been picking up tips on how to use that brush, and the others, from video tutorials by mixed-media artists on Craft Daily.

For example, I learned the following watercolor painting tips from Diana Trout in her video Playful Paper Backgrounds:

  • Before dipping your brush in the paint, saturate it with water by dunking it in clean water several times, then pat the excess off where the bristles meet the ferrule (the metal part). This will help distribute the paint evenly in the brush.
  • Load the brush with color by dipping the end of the brush into the paint several times.
  • Before applying paint to the watercolor paper, spritz it with clean water. This will help the paper take the paint and makes it easier to spread the paint (a boon when painting backgrounds).
  • Keep two water bowls handy, one for cleaning brush after using it and the other one for adding water to the brush before dipping it into a new color.
  • Keep an absorbant rag, such as an old bath towel, handy to wipe excess water from the brush.

This is just the tip of the paintbrush. Diana demonstrates loads of fun and easy techniques for mixed-media painting in Playful Paper Backgrounds. With a subscription to Craft Daily, you can watch that video–plus all of our other mixed-media video tutorials–for one low low price, with several options. Learn to make the most of your paintbrushes, paint, and other mixed-media tools and supplies on Craft Daily.

P.S. What's your go-to brush for mixed-media art? Leave a comment below (and I'll pass it along to my husband).

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