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For bristle media we are going to take a look at brushes. Brushes are really the basic form of tool used within all bristle media. Basically, what we were talking about are stylus based instruments that use bundle of hairs as a reservoir to contain or hold a medium like oil or acrylic paint. The idea behind the bristle reservoir is that it is able to dispense fluids on a medium over time. Another characteristic of the brush is the way that the brush tip shape changes based on the artist's hand pressure and rotation of the stylus, which contribute to the expressive qualities of the brush.
Now the first thing you want to do with a brush is load the bristles with paint. Once you have the paint on the brush you can apply this medium to a surface, which is typically canvas like this. Depending on the constitution of the paint itself, this can be a very opaque medium or it can be thinned out to where it's very transparent. These are qualities that can alter or change the expression of the marks made with the brush. The amount of paint applied to a brush's reservoir directly affects the character of the resulting stroke. The reservoir is not infinite and eventually runs out.
The artist can intentionally use this fact to charge the reservoir with smaller amounts of paint. The applied strokes will run out of paint quickly leaving a short stroke with a tail of decreasing color until it tapers out. This is a standard look in painting. There are different types of brushes, which could be used in the service of creating different kinds of mark making. For example, a fan brush is not as good at applying paint as it is for spreading already applied wet paint on a canvas. This lets you create subtle gradations of color or tonal variations not easily accomplished by direct application.
For this reason it is made in a wide flat shape optimized for light brushing. You've also got brushes with round tips that taper to a point. This brush shape can go from a very fine stroke to a wider stroke depending on the level of pressure from your hand. In addition, there are wider flat brushes that are generally used to apply paint to larger areas. Each of these brushes allows you a different way to control how you apply paint onto your medium. One of the techniques that artists will use is to mix multiple colors of paint, and then do what's called loading the brush.
This is where the artist will pick up these multiple colors across the bristles of the brush. When the brush is applied to the canvas the resulting stroke will contain striations of the loaded colors, introducing greater complexity. The ability to vary the stroke width and the deposition of color within the stroke provides a wide range of expressive potential. You've also got a technique that can be done with a dry brush. The artist can take a very light amount of paint and then apply it to a textured medium and apply paint only to the topmost portion of the surface by using light pressure strokes, leaving the lower areas of the canvas untouched.
This accentuates the texture of the canvas weave, which visually creates a partial screen of one color over another. The two colors are then mixed optically by the viewer's eye. For example, when yellow is lightly applied over some existing blue the optical result is the appearance of green. In reality there are two distinct colors, but the eye and brain optically mix them together to perceive green. A majority of Painter's brush controls are dedicated to various bristle effects as we'll discover in this chapter.
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