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How to eliminate brushstrokes?

Hey all, 

Hoping some of you have some advice in regard to eliminating brushstrokes.... either mostly or entirely.

For example, I'm planning on doing more paintings with black backgrounds and would like to be able to do a coat of oil over the background with no brush strokes showing.

I assume there are brushes that work better for this purpose than bristle.

I've also been checking out this amazing art which is painted in acrylic and there aren't any brushstrokes showing.



  • edited October 2017
    Are you working on canvas, or panels?

    You probably want a soft so called 'badger brush' to blend the background thoroughly.

  • SummerSummer -
    edited October 2017
    "I'm planning on doing more paintings with black backgrounds and would like to be able to do a coat of oil over the background with no brush strokes showing."

    The best way that I know of is using a shop compressor or spray-gun.  If you click on my profile picture you will see the results of two coats of oil paint using a shop compressor for the background only.  I used the fat over lean principle in applying the second coat and each coat was applied in two directions for full coverage outdoors.  I guess that really means four swipes per canvas or panel.  I prepared both canvasses and panels and made about six at the same time as I recall. 

    I didn't read the article but I think the artist at probably used a spray gun which is easiest with acrylic and/or inks.  Oils could be used but with great difficulty.

    I've used high-quality rollers.  Not always happy with result.

    I've applied thicker paint and stippled the surface until the paint "melted" into a smooth surface.  Wasn't happy with the result.


  • SummerSummer -
    edited October 2017
    canvas and panels for me, and soon to be aluminum  :)
  • SummerSummer -
    edited October 2017
    Yeah, @movealonghome, on
    it really is a good style for air-brush.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited October 2017
    I hope that I have understood the question, but I don't even try to get a really smooth surface with brushes when I have the shop compressor or studio air-brush option.       
  • movingalonghome

    What about starting with a black canvas?

    What about starting with a black PE coated Dibond?

    What about starting with translucent Mylar or Yupo with black acrylic on the back and oil on the front?

    What about using a high density foam roller?

    What about using a pressure pack product for the background?

    What about using a low cost electric spray gun?


  • Softer brushes leave fewer visible strokes.  Bristle is the worst for this.
  • Okay for my next one I will try black gesso prime, then a second coat of black oil to get the desired colour painted thinly and carefully with a very soft brush. I'll comment on how well this goes for me when I post the painting. It's going to be a good one. Better than my last I think. I'll try to find a roller that will work too. The ones I have now soak up way too much paint.. Would be wasteful and expensive.
  • movingalonghome

    Apply swiftly with a large brush and smooth out with a high density roller.


  • You could also try a few layers of Water Mixable Oil black thinned with water so it's a very fluid consistency.
  • edited October 2017
    Spray or airbrush sounds like the way to go if you want absolutely no brushstrokes visible. If you want the black surface to be absolutely smooth then you might want to consider painting on primed aluminium panel rather than on canvas or linen because unless you give many coats of gesso and sand down to a smooth surface the weave of the canvas is going to show through and roughen the surface.
  • Griffin Alkyd fast-dry black? thinned down and multiple coats? Never tried that myself but I would consider that before investing in a compressor. I'm also wondering if alkyds could be sanded after a week or two.
  • edited November 2017
    @Richard_P I took your advice and got a soft goat-hair brush designed for watercolours which looks like this. Works like a charm. Also added a bit more solvent to the paint which likely helps as well. Super flat surface compared to what I got using a bristle filbert. It's also very fun to paint with.Image result for goat hair watercolour brush
  • SummerSummer -
    edited November 2017
    I have used watercolor brushes on oil paintings in the past to eliminate brush strokes and they do work to a considerable extent.  I didn't paint with them, I just glossed over the surface.  I didn't like that I couldn't make two passes with the same side of the brush because the wet oil color would gunk up the bristles and leave ridges on the second pass.  I often had six brushes erasing topical brush marks on a single painting.  The part I really dreaded was having to clean them immediately afterwards.  I didn't have brush dip back then so I don't know if that will help or not if I use this technique in the future.  Soft goat-hair sounds ideal for painting with.  I'll have to try that.   
  • Instead of using that watercolour brush, I've found the Rosemary Ivory brushes to be just as good. They're really soft and nice. I only have a #3 filbert but would like to get some more of these ones... soft hairs but are still fairly firm and have nice spring to them.
  • Oops i meant rosemary ebony... Not ivory
  • If you choose to use an airbrush, you can you cans of compressed air rather than worrying about buying a compressor.
  • @movealonghome ; Ebony and Ivory? Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson?
  • edited November 2017
    Why do you want to eliminate brushstrokes, @movealonghome? They are beautiful and show the artist's presence and make a good painting a tactile three dimensional object of beauty in its own right.  Otherwise, why not just take a great photograph and frame it?
  • @movealonghome ok, I wasn't going to mention it as it is off topic for this forum but I have been taking online classes through MoMA - free!!!  you do have tests to move on to the next week's lesson but you seem eager to learn and will have no trouble "passing".   Week 7 is all about Ad Reinhardt and how he was a master at no brushstrokes and the extensive process of how he achieved it - even the instructor said if one can get half as proficient as Ad with the use of paints and eliminating brushstrokes, then one should be very pleased (if that is your goal).  He also has a fantastic video about Cubism and Picasso on his youtube channel (not part of the postwar class)   Corey D'Augustine is the instructor - you can see some of his lessons on youtube.  Reading some of your queries makes me think this is something that may interest you.  Good luck and have fun!
  • edited November 2017
    @tassieguy it is possible to have a painting be brushstroke-free and still look like a painting and very different from a photograph. Furthermore leaving some parts of a painting completely flat and free of brushstrokes (either in the sense of everything being blended smoothly old master style, or painted flatly and not impasto) and glare can be used intentionally to add emphasis to other areas of the painting. It also generally just creates a different look and effect.
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