Banish Boring Brushstrokes: Part 2

Excitement in brushstroke

The Masters knew.

Make every brush stroke count.  Each should sing!

It should be easy, painting a single brushstroke onto a canvas creating a mark that is luminous and clean, fresh and lively – not boring!  Full of texture, color and of course, with a good tonal range.

That doesn’t sound too difficult, but it is a wee bit more challenging than that.

Mainly due to the overwhelming urge we have to go back into the painted area and ‘fix’ aka  ‘fiddling.’

Excitement in brushstroke
Make each stroke count.  Create Excitement in your Brushstrokes! 


Banish Boring

In part 1  Banish Boring Brushstrokes   I listed my 3 keys to help and explain how to create fresh  non boring brush marks.

Additionally, outlining  the processes I went through to create a more dynamic brushstroke.

As I was saying,  our urge to fiddle,  hinders the liveliness and luminosity of the brush mark.


Choosing  to control that urge is one of the best ways I can think of to help get far better images.



The Dance with the Brush

I love looking at people’s paintings when it seems as though their brush must have been doing a dance, and I can see the energy and boldness.

Its a lovely thing to see!

The fiddling problem stems I think from overthinking, being too self critical.

We want to get it ‘just right’,  we want it perfect.

I think my  earlier post on Taming the Dragon Perfectionism  would be a very helpful and relevant post to have a quick review of.   Yes,  its great for me to reread too!

acrylics one stroke indigo
ONE stroke, using a house paintbrush ! 


I’ve used indigo, cobalt teal blue and yellow green.  All on the brush at the same time & simply swept it across the slightly dampened surface.




Part 2 Banish Boring Brushstrokes

Tonal values are critical, to my painting’s  overall success.

The painting needs to have a clear, evident,  good ratio of Light, Mid, Dark tones throughout the image in order for it to be balanced.

If there is just mid tones and darks…… its going to be flat.

Same thing with only light tones and mid tones …. it will be flat.

It is going to lack depth.


acrylic cobalt teal abstract
Cobalt Teal Acrylics Light, Mid, Dark tones 1 brushstroke 


Tonal values generally,  will become paler as the shapes recede into the distance.


An object/shape i.e.  (sky, hill, rock, river, cloud, shrub, etc)   needs to have clear Light tone, Mid tone and Dark tone within that shape in order for it to have form and depth.   If you’d like more info on Tonal Values,  have a look through some of my posts on Tonal Values.


In order for the one brushstroke to have the Maximum amount of energy and life possible,  I need to make sure I have Light, Mid, Dark tones loaded up on that brush.

In this case, for this post  I am still using my very exciting handy dandy House Paintbrush!

acrylic sea 1 brushstroke
 Sea 1 brushstroke white, cobalt teal, indigo 



acrylic sunset 1 brushstroke over orange tint
Acrylic abstract.   Orange  1 brushstroke  OVER  a scarlet undercoat 



The next interesting part of the process I used today, in Part 2,  was working over a colored canvas.

Very exciting!


One was scarlet orange, the others cream and soft green/blue.

What I like about this approach is:

  •  the base undercoat is totally dry so there will be no mud
  • I double my colour scheme and don’t rely 100% on the loaded up house paintbrush
  • canvas typically gives a rougher, more textural look  than acrylics on paper
  • its so fun, its addicting!


acrylics indigo cobalt teal
Acrylics: Indigo, Cobalt teal, yellow green – 1 Single Brushstroke using House Paintbrush


All these images have been executed using one SINGLE brush stroke, using the old house paint brush.


I loaded  the brush with the colours straight out of the tube, not mixed or stirred.

I included white for the light.  You can use a skewer to dob the paint onto the brush bristles where you’d prefer.

I just squeezed the paint right onto the brush. Then I flattened the brush down and used a sweeping motion across the canvas to create a more exciting lively brush mark.


The acrylic sunset was done over top of  a dry undercoat of scarlet orange; the ocean and sea scenes were done over top an undercoat of soft greeny/blue.


acrylic ocean 1 brushstroke
 at the ocean 1 brushstroke – So Amazing! 



The worn, old bristles of the house paintbrush (2.5 inches)  permits a more random,  exciting and  textural look than my normal brushes.

Have a go  – Its a really fun way to shake things up and create some very exciting, powerful brush marks and paintings!




Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

4 thoughts on “Banish Boring Brushstrokes: Part 2

    1. thank you for looking and commenting! I’ve been, as you’d no doubt noticed, testing out doing posts in series or that were kind of connected. My first posts were all random topics! So its good to get some feedback 🙂

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