Exercise: Applying Paint Without Brushes

This exercise explored mark-making using tools other than brushes.

Tools used included: 

  • shaper tools of different shapes and sizes
  • credit cards
  • scraper tools
  • textured kitchen paper
  • scrunched-up tissue paper
  • spatulas
  • a toothbrush
  • twig 
  • embossing tools
  • a sponge

Outcomes with acrylic paint is shown on the next four pages.  I used two colours of paint (phthalo blue and a metallic mauve).  I also applied the paint in a more textured way than had tended to be the case with the brushes.  This was sometimes unavoidable – many of the tools used automatically led to a more textured outcome. 



The paint top right (below) is effectively a mono print made by placing a piece of textured kitchen paper into the paint.  some of the pattern is visible.  I then made a second print (top, left) which created a more ethereal, more balanced mark. I particularly liked the tissue paper print (bottom, centre) for its depth and transparency.  



Here is an enlargement of the scrunched-up tissue paper marks for detail.  This could be further explored using different types of paper, overlaying colours or building up layers from transparent to opaque.



I then tried making marks in the paint surface with some of the same tools.  This was difficult with acrylic paint because the surface dries so quickly.  I got around this by adding bits of paint, making marks, adding a bit more and so on until the page was covered, which was non-spontaneous and not a comfortable way of working (for me). 



I then tried a slightly different approach to the exercise (lower section of the page below) using a single colour of paint as a lower layer, into which marks were made; I then dry brushed the darker blue over the dried surface to highlight the marks.  

The upper section of the page contains marks made by various shaping tools – I did not find a huge variety in these on the whole although they could still be useful and I envisage using them. 




Finally, I covered a page of 200 gsm paper (roughly A4) in water-soluble oils and scraped and marked in order to reveal colour in the lower layer. I was surprised / pleased to find that the lower, still-wet layer of paint did not scrape away to reveal the paper but provided a coloured base.  Fine and broader tools were equally easily manipulated in the paint. The oils were much more pleasurable to work with because they retained their fluidity and so encouraged  spontaneous mark-making much more than was the case with the acrylics.  To do this successfully with acrylics, I imagine that a retarder would need to be used.  I’m aware they exist but have never used one so do not know the effect that this would have on the consistency of the paint and the effect of this on mark-making. 




To save time in writing about water-soluble oils, in future posts I shall abbreviate these to WS oils. 




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