Applying Paint Without Brushes
Use palette knives loaded with paint for initial experiments… also try using old plastic credit cards, set squares or protractors, pieces of cardboard, windscreen scrapers and plastic plastering tools.. don’t worry about creating a painting – just enjoy experimenting…
Now try applying paint with sponges, rags, toothbrushes and your fingers…
Using a 20×16″ oil paper sheet, divided into four, I set about having fun. The first quadrangle, I used just palette knives and straight out of the tube oil paint. I tried dabbing, scraping and smearing different colours that I had left on my palette from a previous painting. Putting two toning colours on the knife at the same time and smearing it on the paper gave a nice two-tone effect with a soft diffused merging line between them. I also liked dragging different colours across each other with produced some water like effects – but I particularly liked the smearing!
In the second section, I used an old business card, and a thinner piece of card, a stick and the handle end of a paint brush. By using the card, I achieved thick blocks of colour applied with the face side and printed thin straight lines with the edges. Dragging the stick and brush handle through the thick paint added texture and an almost mosaic tile effect on the paper.
In the third quarter I had the most messy fun. Using a small natural sponge dipped in thinners and then the paint, I splodged diluted paint around the space, it was a lot more fluid than I had intended so no real texture of the sponge remained. I reverted to the palette knives and thicker paint, and was surprised at how similar to water-colour the oil pigment behaved, by dispersing and running, making diffused mixes. I blended a little with a cloth and added daubs of paint with my fingers, then smeared thick white paint that blended with the, still wet with solvent, areas at its edges.
Lastly, I mainly used a rag round my finger to add paint and work it into the surface. This gave a good thin covering of pigment without using too much solvent. Finger painting, dragging with the rag, printing with the edge of the card and sponging were employed in this test.
Unfortunately, I did not have anything overly exciting to hand to use, manual toothbrushes have long since been replaced with electric ones – although that would have been very interesting! This helped me understand how oil paint behaves and what can be done with it, without any serious repercussions – clearing up was not so much fun though – plus, the paint may be dry in about a year!