Thursday, August 22, 2013

VISUAL ART TIP: Sponge Brush Painting is good for both illustrations and paintings

Sponge Brush Painting
This Visual Art Tip is a little about my technique of sponge brush painting as it applies to "fine art" painting. I developed my technique to accomplish a certain look for some illustrations I was working on.....but sponge brush painting can easily work in many "fine art" situations as well.
My initial problem was to get nice smooth graduations in a monochromatic background for a page in an alphabet book. For the illustrations for Easter Day Alphabet, I'd come up with the concept to paint designs as a kind of "wallpaper" background with the main image, text and large alphabet letter going on top.I wasn't using any computer graphics for this particular book, I don't use an airbrush, and I was working in acrylics....not known for their ease of getting a smooth graduation in colours. Unwanted visible brush marks being one of the main problems.
I hit upon the idea of using sponge brushes after looking at a home dec magazine, and reading about faux finishes. You can see more about it in a previous post: I Never Met a Art Technique I didn't like.....
I found that if I puddled a bit of the glazing liquid on my palette then dropped in a drop of fluid acrylics and mixed with a knife.....I got a lovely looking glaze

Smooth sponges allow me to graduate colours. After one coat of glaze dries I can easily smooth on a different colour and seamlessly blend the edge. All this without any muddying of the two colours, as the dried acrylic glazes stay separate. I usually use a gessoed ground on masonite board for my fine art paintings. This accepts the glazing especially well....the light just goes right thru the acrylic glazes and bounces off the white gesso and returns outward with a lovely glow.
For landscapes in the "fine art" mode, I found that skies would be luminous done in layers of acrylic blues and greens, just as Maxfield Parrish discovered using oils. When I wanted to fill in foliage for trees and such, I just grabbed a sea sponge and dabbed away. First using a blue base for shadows, and covering with a variety of greens for the background foliage. Then (following Maxfield Parrish's technique) I would dab on pure white for highlights on leaves, which would later be glazed over with various colours as needed....i.e. oranges for fall, yellow for summer etc. I used this technique for this painting:

among others: It was the perfect technique for grasses, clear skies and flowing water.