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Painting Fine Lines

karynrkarynr -
edited September 2017 in Painting
I'm still finishing up one painting, but I'm already looking ahead to the next.  I took the photograph below of the Cabrillo Point Lighthouse in San Diego. I've given it a digital treatment to help me imagine it as a painting.  It reminds me of one of Hopper's works which I dearly love and I've also posted that below.I'll have to paint some very fine lines which has always been a challenge for me.  Any advice you can share in that regard is most welcome!


  • Painting fine lines cannot be done on a dried surface. Surface has to be either wet with wet paint or an oiled out one. A line should be like a line not a conglomeration of strokes. You have to have right colored paint loaded onto your brush. Use good brushes.
  • One way -A mahl stick to keep your hand steady, paint thinned out with a medium to make it flow easily ( I use a store bought glazing medium )and a rigger (liner brush) which is a brush specifically designed for painting fine lines.

    Another way is to scratch the lines out with the hard end of the paintbrush.

  • Oh, @karynr, I just love that picture of the lighthouse. I so hope you paint that. It's just beautiful. The composition and soft blues and whites ... I just love everything about it. A mahl-stick and fluid paint over dry is the way to go with very fine lines. Be careful not to paint the lines too dark or they won't look right - for example the lines between the boards of the house would be just a one very faint step darker than the boards themselves. Really love to see this painted!  :)
  • @Kaustav @Boudicca @tassieguy

    Thank you for your replies.  I love this image and hope to do it justice.  I think it looks deceptively easy to paint.  The details, particularily the picket fence, will elevate the work...if I can do it right!

    Boudicca, I thought I had every brush in the world, but I guess I need one more.  I think a brush like that will help a lot.

    Tassieguy, I agree about the color of the lines. Plus, having only a slight difference in color will make corrections easier to make.

    Since I'll have to draw light pencil lines to follow, I do think the lines need to be done over dry paint.  The lines need to precicise and equally spaced and I don't know how I'd achieve that painting wet into wet.
  • My inclination would be to let the sky dry, then draw the roof lines in black using a small brush (rigger maybe), using black paint with a mere drop of turpentine in it.  This thinning of the paint allows the drawing of a straight line in one stroke.  Then because that line is thinned, I would let it dry completely before doing the same with the off white beneath it.

    I would say it only really matters for the house roof and windows, because of the high contrast.  The lower the contrast, the sloppier that line can be and still look good.

    There are always masking options to guarantee straight lines.
  • So much good information!  Thanks, @PaulB.  I can't wait to go to the art store and get my new brush!

    I've been working on panels for several years, but returned to canvas for my last two projects when I wanted to do larger work.  I'm returning to panel for this one. I think a firmer support will make painting all the detail just a bit easier.

    Thanks, all.  Have an inspiring day!
  • Oh, I love it too.  I can't wait to see you paint this.
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