Show Me Your Strokes
“The greatest painters say it with the fewest strokes.”
Painters throughout history are often defined by the nature of their strokes. Most people can identify the short and broken strokes of Monet or the decorative and fleeting strokes of Van Gogh. We easily identify Cezanne by the squareness of his strokes. Even some of the abstract expressionists were known for the character of their strokes. Willem Dekoonig attacked the canvas with large brushes in an aggressive slashing and slicing manner. John Singer Sargeant was considered one of the great strokers of all time. Each stroke had a purpose. One spontaneous swipe of a paint-filled brush becomes the bridge of the nose. Push, twist, roll and drag, the brush touches the canvas like a well-choreographed dance.
A painting with well-defined strokes adds numerous layers to the viewerÂ¹s experiential potential. The nature of the strokes magnify the rhythm and pulse of the subject matter, giving the viewer an intimate look into the sensitivity and vision of the artist and their statement about their subject matter.
For the portrait painter, the strokes define the character and temperament of the individual. Carefully placed strokes in a horizontal direction portray an individual who is contemplative, quiet and peaceful. Quick allusive strokes depict an individual who is energetic, creative and enthusiastic, while strokes that are vertical in nature usually portray stability, power and control.
To the landscape artist the stroke is critical for expressing the true experience of that moment. The wind blows, the waves roll, the high grass sways and the flowers grow because of the stroke. Rocks are heavy, fences are weathered and water flows because of the stroke.
“Artists paint emotion not information.” The brush stroke can be the vehicle that paves the way for the artist to achieve this goal.