Handmade Paint or Dye-Paste Brushes


I’ve been dying (and dyeing) to hand-make some brushes for a long time.

The drawing – below – is part of an ongoing exploration of the pond in my garden. This was initially for textile work, but since my return to painting this year, I’m also going to be producing some ‘pond’ works in paint. It came to me to place the pond in its environment so with this in mind have been doing some exploratory drawings. And trying out some new tools. These first are line drawings, mapping drawings, looking for objects, their positionings, and the patterns and their energies that describe them.

I was trying out some graphite pencils and acrylic pens.

It’s a long time since I’ve worked in this way, but I’m enjoying the discipline of sitting still for longish periods of time, just looking and being completely absorbed in trying to make marks that represent what I’m seeing.

As you see, there’s the house at the top of the drawing. At the bottom, there’s the pond.

The house looks like a pagoda. I don’t live in a pagoda.

Or do I? This is the second project I’m working on that involves a pond as subject matter. Curiously, the other pond – in France – sits in front of a pagoda. Make what you want of that. I am going to make quite a lot of it.

I’ve blogged about this quite a lot. so feel free to search my site using the word ‘pagoda’.

There’s a lot of pattern in this scene, because of the different types of trees and vegetation. Differentiating between one tree or bush or plant and another I find and have always found quite difficult. Generalities have to be found to express what I would call the differing patterns of energy. I’m not sure generalities is a good word, but it’s okay for now. A pencil, or paintbrush, can be limiting and fail, as a tool, to do this.

There are many other kinds of drawing, of course, which might be better for exploring for instance volume. Or weight. Which I will be considering.

And so I’ve been having a lot of fun making my own brushes, from my stashes of materials awaiting transformation into … something, sometime. These materials have been found, scavenged, beachcombed, swum-snorkelled-dived for, excavated, picked-up on walks, dug-up, cut-off, snipped from, …

I had to try the brushes out as soon as I’d made them. The slideshow above demonstrates a very quick first try-out. I tried them out using black acrylic paint on paper. I hope you will see there is huge potential in hand-made brushes, for finding those identifying generalities needed to express natural forms and their individual patterns. And also as mark-energy-makers in non-representational art.

And each of these brushes is quite the personnage, I think.

Have you made your own brushes? I’d love to see some works made by other artists using handmade brushes.

About AnnIsikArts

Artist/Writer/Blogger
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9 Responses to Handmade Paint or Dye-Paste Brushes

  1. Suzanne says:

    What an inspiring post. I love the handmade brushes and will definitely try making my own. I like your approach to drawing the pond. Over the past 18 months or so the one place I can go is the local wetlands. I have taken so many photos of the reflections in the water. Recently I decided to interpret them through painting. I did a couple of acrylic paintings but haven’t really discovered how best to translate what I see into visual art. I like the idea of using of graphite and will do some experiments with that medium.
    I love your drawings. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • AnnIsikArts says:

      Thanks Suzanne for your kind remarks. Making the brushes was great fun. I’ve had some of this stuff for years. The handles of the raffia and some of the other brushes are from sections of Giant Hogweed stems I picked from around our then house in France. I wouldn’t recommend picking these as they can cause very severe allergic reactions. I must be immune! Some of the brush heads are of nylon rope picked up at boatyards. Boatyards are great places for scavenging! I’ll be interested to see the brushes you make. I imagine they will look quite different.

      Liked by 1 person

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