Bold Brush Strokes and Drippy Washes

Painting with bold brush strokes and drippy washes, Fealing Lin keeps her paintings fresh and lively. Her process involves layering big brushstrokes, transparent glazes and interesting shapes to capture her subjects. Enjoy these three watercolor painting tutorials from the artist so you can hone your own watercolor skills and paint just the way you want to!

3 tenets of a good shape

“Every time I make a brushstroke, I want to make sure I’m creating a good shape,” says Lin. Here are three guiding principles she uses to inform her shapes. “A good shape:

  • has two different dimensions, meaning it’s taller or wider in one area than another or otherwise has variation in the sides.
  • is interesting, expressive and shares interlocking edges with other shapes.
  • contains gradations in terms of value, size, colour temperature or texture.”

Lin’s take on tools

Surface: My favorite paper is Fabriano 300-lb. hot-pressed, but I also use Canson paper for smaller figure paintings. I paint on a 12×16-inch block or 15×21-inch sheets most of the time.

Brushes: I’m not picky about brushes. I mostly use rounds in sizes that range from No. 10 to No. 16, and I have squirrel mops too.

Paints: My favorite brands are Holbein and Daniel Smith. I use only transparent colors, no black or white. My portrait and fi gure painting palette consists of cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber, quinacridone gold, Hooker’s green, mineral violet, cerulean blue, turquoise blue and ultramarine blue.

Other supplies: I use a 3B pencil to draw the image on my watercolor paper. Once in a while I use liquid frisket to preserve a bit of light shining on a piece of jewelry or a few strands of hair.

What to do after the initial brushstrokes

  1. Work in stages, layering interesting shapes on top of one another to define specific features
    or elements of the painting.
  2. Focusing on smaller and smaller shapes, allow each layer to dry before going on to the next until you get the level of depth and detail you want.
  3. Spend more time looking at a piece afterward than you do painting it to really discover if it is finished or not. Study the painting in different locations and under various lighting conditions provides new perspective. Get feedback from someone with a fresh pair of eyes—an artist or friend or artist friend.
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