How to varying the brushes when working with brush and ink

Varying the brushes when working with brush and ink

Drawing by dipping a brush into ink and letting it glide across the paper gives a wonderful sense of freedom. It takes a good deal of practice to become expert at brush drawing; however, you can enjoy brush drawing simply as an exciting and expressive technique.

Chinese brushes
Chinese brushes

The best implements for brush drawing are either a good-quality watercolour brush that comes to a fine point, or a Chinese brush. The latter are expressly designed to exploit brush-marks, but, surprisingly, are considerably less expensive than watercolour brushes.

Different shaped brushes
Different shaped brushes

You will find you can make a wide variety of different marks with either type of brush, from fine and sensitive lines to broad blobs and shapes of various kinds. A lot depends on the pressure applied and how much ink is used. For example,

if you begin a brushstroke by pressing the body of the brush down on the paper and then gradually lifting your hand so that you are using the point, you will achieve a leaf- or petal shaped mark.

If you start a long, linear stroke with the point of a well-loaded brush and draw it out, the brush will become progressively starved of paint so that the stroke is paler at the end.

It is essential to practice making marks with the brush before embarking on a drawing proper, because you can’t make corrections. The essence of the method is controlled spontaneity applied and how much ink is used.

Quick tip | Varying the brushes

img 1

1 begin with the hair — use a large brush and slightly dilute in ink, let it pool at the bottom of the stroke.

img 2

2 After blocking in the head and upper body with the large brush, now use a smaller one to draw the outlines of the white pants. To give maximum control, hold the brush close to the point.

3 The texture of the chair is suggested with a fine, pointed brush and a variety of short, linear strokes. The chair plays an important part in the composition, as its busy texture contrasts with the broadly stated figure.

img 4

4 To complete the drawing, a strong, dark vertical was brought in behind the figure, the shadows on the hair and face were strengthened, and the forms of the legs built up with broad brushstrokes of diluted ink.

Literature | Hazel Harrison, The Encyclopedia of Drawing Techniques, A Quarto Book, 2004