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Friday, 6 November 2015

Using a Filbert Brush to Paint Trees Effortlessly

In this blog I want to introduce you to only one of the uses of the very versatile Filbert brush. A Filbert is a flat brush with a rounded top. They come in a wide range of bristle types and can be used with equal success across all mediums of paint. I am going to show you how to use these brushes to paint trees effortlessly.


I start by stretching a sheet of sketch paper over a backing, using masking tape. The paper I am using is only 120 gsm. Normally this would be too light weight for watercolors, but the technique calls for using a very dry brush and therefore the paper will not warp or buckle when the watercolors are applied.


Instead of using watercolor paints, I will be using Derwent Inktense Blocks in much the same way as watercolor pans.


As I will be using a dry brush technique, I keep a folded kitchen towel at hand. I will be dabbing the wet brush on this towel continually to dry it.


I dip the brush in water and then onto the first green I choose to use. This is a neutral middle color.


After dabbing the brush dry on the paper towel, I lightly touch the paper with the tip of the brush, leaving small semi-circular paint marks on the paper. Try to paint clusters of these, as leaves often grow in clusters.


The second green I choose is a more vibrant one that will bring sunlight into my tree.


The paint technique remains the same and I lightly dab at the paper with the tip of the brush.


I now select a Yellow Ochre to bring even more sunlight into the leaf top of the tree.


Here you can see how I keep dabbing the wet brush to prevent excessive water from forming water puddles on the paper. If the brush is too wet, the paint will run and you will not get the crisp clear edges that you are looking for.


The yellow is applied in the same way as the greens were.


I now select a very dark blue to add shadow to the leaves. Green is mixed from yellow and blue, and using these two colors together will fool the eye into picking up even more shades of green than were actually used. On top of that, you will often find that it is easier to create believable lively shadows with blue, in art, than when using black, which can easily appear dull and dead.


The blue is added with the tip of the Filbert brush.


I now have a very lush green canopy which is rather more excessive than I would usually use in a painting, but it is to enhance the essence of the lesson. I now switch to a rather large round brush with long bristles and a finely tapered point to paint the trunk and branches.


I dab into a dark brown for the first color of the bark.


The trunk and branches of the tree are painted in broken lines that waver slightly. The broken lines will allow the eye to believe that sunlight has lit up those spots.


I add a second, lighter shade to one side of the tree, to indicate the sunny side.


As I find this shade too light, I go back to the first brown and lightly brush over the color a second time with diluted paint.


Remember to add a foot for your tree or it will seem to be floating in space.


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