Dry Brush & Scumbling

Scumbling and dry brush are painting techniques used to create interesting textures and layering in a painting. This is a piece I created in Photoshop using these techniques.

Dry Brush
This technique is achieved by painting on the highest ridges of textured paper using a small amount of paint on a relatively dry brush and painting to create a scratchy look that is different from the traditional smooth look of paint. Many times the brush is dipped in paint and water then dried with a paper towel so that most of the paint is removed. This technique can be achieved with both water and oil-based media. When using water-based media (ink, acrylic, tempera, watercolor) the brush should be free from water and then loaded with very thick paint and applied to a dry canvas. With oil-based media the brush should be free from the solvent and then loaded with paint but because oil takes longer to dry remember not to blend brush strokes. Some techniques that can be used with dry brush are using a very light touch, moving the brush quickly across the paper and experimenting with paint thickness.

This is another technique used in association with the layering of a painting. Scumbling is painting into the crevasses or deepest parts of the paper’s texture. Multiple layers of paint can be added to create varied effects and details. The paint in lower layers isn’t completely covered but is altered by additional layers of paint.

Andrew Wyeth is a very well known artist who often used the dry brush technique in his work. His curator, Mary Landa, said that Wyeth sometimes used a special brush that had a tip consisting of only one sable hair. Wyeth studied watercolor and became a master of it, painting his favorite things which were the people and land that he knew.

Ludek Pesek was renowned for his dry brush technique whose artwork included cosmic subjects and surrealistic works. As a young boy Pesek had the opportunity to use an astronomical telescope and later he began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. He was an artist for National Geographic magazine portraying the exploration of space.

Rembrant was a dutch artist living in the 1600’s who had a style that evolved with time. In the beginning his work was smooth and as he progressed as an artists his brush strokes became more pronounced. There have been accounts of his course brushwork dissuading visitors from looking too closely at his paintings. Rembrant’s work was deeply layered, giving it a rich feel.










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