Tight vs loose brushwork

Hi all. I may sound little silly. So far I've been painting tightly with main focus on realism. Off late I've becoming fan of loose and painterly works as well. I love both and in great dilemma whivh one to follow. As my natural tendency is tight very often end up making tight consciously or unconsciously. I would love to paint loosely but again undecided. Has anyone faced such dilemma and how to overcome it? 


  • @Soumyajit, I can’t paint yet in oils but I am practicing being painterly for when I can.

    I am doing that by drawing in charcoal on vellum surfaced Bristol paper and using a kneaded eraser as a brush to draw. Learned this wonderful technique from Richard Schmid’s books. 
  • Hey Soumyajit,
    I started off looking at great photorealistic paintings and wanted to do something similar. After applying Marks method i achieved such a result(kinda :p ). but i still wasn't happy with it. 
    for example here's one i would describe as photorealistic by Alyssa Monks

    That painting is a beautiful piece of art to my eyes, but still not what i would like to paint.

    this one by Joseph Todorovitch on the other hand is something i would like to achieve .

    I think the difference between those two painting styles has to do a lot with the edges.
    edges on the first one are diffused more tightly but on the second one a little bit more loose.

    Unfortunately none can help you with your decision since you have to decide what is the best way to express your vision. 
    Id say follow, as your said, what comes naturally .
    follow what seems to be "normal" to you.
    or you can simply experiment with small still lifes.
    give it a go and see what feels ok.

    personally i prefer a more loose aprroach. lost edges for the parts i don't want to emphasize as much and sharp edges for the parts of the painting i want to emphasize more.

    Btw I've seen your paintings and my opinion is to stick to what you already do, because you do it well.


  • I think a lot of us have faced this dilemma, @Soumyajit.

    You say tight comes naturally to you, but that you like the looser, more painterly look, too. From your last painting I think it's very clear that you can do tight and smooth extremely well already. So, maybe it's loose and painterly that you should practice now.

    Once you are confident you can do it both ways you can then approach  each new painting in a way that suites the subject or how you feel about it. Or maybe you'll decide that one approach is actually what you prefer. Practicing loose and painterly for a while would be a good way to find out. 

    As for how to go about it, I think the best thing to do is to look at loosely painted works that you like and try to figure out what the painter did. You'll find that there is a lot of simplification involved, a focus on broad areas of value rather than on a precise line drawing which is then "coloured in".  And there would be a minimum of blending. It's about laying in brush strokes of the correct value/colour and letting them be. I think it takes a lot pf practice to do it well.

    Good luck with it. I hope you post some of your loose and painterly practice pieces. :)
  • @tassieguy once again fantastic advice and encouraging words. Yea next time on it will be a series of loose works. Lets see. Thank u sir 🤗
  • @Marinos_88 excellent works. Just loved them. And thank u for the advice. It helps. But before i decide I'll try out both and maybe will choose style according to the mood of the subject as @tassieguy has mentioned 💜🙏
  • @Suez oh ok. I too love Richard schmidt. Is it "everything that I know about alla prima"?
  • @Soumyajit, yes he briefly covers the technique in “Alla Prima II” but more so in “Richard Schmid Paints The Figure”.

    It’s easy to do without needing to read the books though. He uses Strathmore brand paper. 

    I like his earlier Figure painting book the best and much prefer his earlier works. He went to the American Academy of Art in Chicago which at that time was one of the few places that maintained earlier standards of training in the Midwest US. Very expensive private commercial art school. Walt Disney trained there.

    I have friends who went there in the ‘70’s so don’t know how it is now except from grads who exhibited in art shows I attended in later times. Their work all looked the same. Lots of shiny metal coffee pots and toasters. They were always shocked I told them I could tell they were trained at the AA of art. :D

    My friends who attended the school made endless color charts and had very tough assignments. The one that sticks out the most in my mind was drawing a spiral staircase in perspective with shadows which required colored pencil guidelines everywhere to keep track of each step and it’s shadow. :o

    Back then Schmid’s figure painting flesh tones were just gorgeous in person. I think you would really like his figure painting book.
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