Brush or knife?


I usually paint on a larger scale with most supports 36" wide or tall and ranging from a mere 4" or 48".  Painting solely with a knife takes its toll on my hand, making it still after painting for a couple of straight.

To ease the stiffness,  I take a break and draw or, funnily enough, do dishes!, as the warm water helps bring back mobility quickly.   This time I thought I'd try painting with a brush.  I started out using brushes years ago and then moved on the painting knives, enjoying the texture and speed of painting more.  However, brushes don't have the same demand on the hand, so I thought I'd try it on a small piece.

Little Red Riding Boat II (brush)

This is a 4" x 4" painting using a brush and oils.  I can't tell you much about the brush except to say that it is a flat and a hogshair.  I don't have many brushes, having used knives exclusively for a long time, so grabbed what I had available.

It felt awkward to use a brush again but I persevered.  Thicker paint application provided a similar impressionist technique that I use with a knife and I think I used the brush almost like a knife with no blending.  I laid down colour, one stroke at a time.

Little Red Riding Boat II (knife)

I had another little canvas so I thought I'd create the same subject using a painting knife.  Painting on a very small scale with a knife is challenging, no matter how small the knife is and I felt like I was using a shovel at times on this one!  Here I was more comfortable with technique, despite the problems of working on something this tiny. 


Brush (left) vs Knife (right)

The results are two similar but different paintings.  The impressionist technique is present in both but, to me, the brush marks look more evident in the first.  That can be a good or bad thing depending on the viewer thoughts.

Will I go back to brushes?  I doubt it unless I have major hand issues that prevent me from doing so.  If that were ever the case, I may have to relearn how to use a brush again.

What are your thoughts?  Which version do you prefer?  I'd love to know which and why.




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