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Painting Wood grain.

I am just finishing the sketch for my second painting.  As part of my still life (from life) I screwed some old faded boards to the back of my shadow box.  I am seeking advice/directions before I actually start painting.  I noticed the old wood's grain is fairly straight lines very close together and evenly spaced.  The color of the grain I think will be doable as it is just a darker gray.  But how can I get such fine parallel lines so close to each other.  I used to do calligraphy in my youth so I could probably practice getting hairlines with a brush, but they are parallel and close to each other.  I'm concerned that deviations from closely packed parallel lines will make the painting look wrong.  It almost looks like you could paint it if you had a brush with spaces between the groups of hairs so that a single line would make several of the fine hairlines.  Is there a technique for painting old wood? 


  • You can get Comber brushes which have several parallel bristles to do several lines at once (normally used for fur and grass I think).

    Do you have a photo so we can see what you are looking at? :)
  • I cheat, I use a fan brush but don't dip the fan brush in the paint. I "paint" a few dabs of color on some of the bristles with another brush. Then drag the fan brush across the canvas kind of like a dry-brush technique. You can apply more than one color at a time too.
  • I am with BOB73...I use wet paint and pull thin rubber wedges and brushes through...because it's wet you can "push" any untidy bits into place as well
  • Thank you for the advice everyone.  @dencal I looked at the videos, the one where the guy is using the dry brush technique on the old house is pretty close to my situation, the wood is much closer on my still life but it does give me the idea.  so one more clarification.  @BOB73 and @judith also suggest the dry brush technique but it seems like doing that wet paint on wet paint would be difficult maybe even loose some definition of the lines.  so what I envision is painting the darker color of the grains first and then dry brushing on the lighter color of the non-wood-grain.  Is the "consensus" that I could do that before the darker undercoat dries without a problem.   As an aside I do like generating hypotheses as to outcomes before even starting the painting, kinda makes me more curious as to what will happen, a little scientific method thrown into the art.
  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited May 1
    Forgot to mention letting one layer dry before applying the grain. Sorry. Your idea will work too.
  • tho I often wing it in wet on wet!!!! :open_mouth:
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