Reconsidering How Loose to Go!

Following on from my last blog I have continued to think about loose brushwork and how I can experiment more with it in this new year, using a break in the sunshine very soon to try a few different things. As part of my ‘research’ I came across a Youtube video by Florent Farges ‘Oil Painting Techniques – Brushwork – loose vs tight’. What he said really struck a chord with me and made me reconsider my plans.

‘For a change, don’t add new things in your life as a new year’s resolution. Instead do more of what’s already working for you and stop doing things that are a time-waste.’ Salil Jha

He says that ‘painting loose or tight is not necessarily a matter of style or technique. It is more a mindset’. What he means by that is painting loose or tight reflects your character. If you are, like me, an organized, structured and methodical kind of person, it is more likely that your painting approach is towards the ‘tight’ finish where brush marks are hardly visible, with a lot of blending and careful transition of tone and colour in layers and well defined shapes. A looser approach, in contrast,  is done quickly and expressively with lots of energy and visible brush marks with an end result that can appear very lively, even ‘messy’ to some. Obviously these descriptions are the extremes of each spectrum with differing levels of ‘tight’ and ‘loose’ in between.

You don’t choose to be ‘tight’ or ‘loose’ per se when you are working instinctively – your natural approach will lean towards your personality. However, once you become aware of the instinctive way you work and why, you / I can choose to become slightly less ‘tight’ and introduce some ‘loose’ elements to my work. I can make more of an effort to be less ‘tight’ if that is what I want.

This made perfect sense to me and helped me understand my preferences and what feels instinctively right for me. It also prompted me to be mindful not to spend lots of frustrating time focusing on what just doesn’t feel instinctively right!

So what am I seeking to do at the moment? I feel I want to introduce some loose brush work into my paintings to give some texture and vitality in places. My research into it has been focusing on people whose work is very ‘loose’ and often towards abstraction so that I could learn from their approach, but I was in danger of losing my own authenticity by attempting to stray too much into an approach that didn’t sit naturally with me. My research and my experience in the portrait group prompted me to introduce some ‘loose’ work in my paintings but I need to do it in a more considered way.  

Whilst I know that I cannot instinctively work really loosely throughout a whole painting I do want to introduce some looser brushwork in the final layers to provide interest and texture. And I feel more comfortable exploring that, whilst still doing more of what is right for me in my quest to be more authentic in my painting. Thank you Florent!

P.s. Happy New Year! I can’t wait to see what things develop in 2020!

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