Thoughts on Process


I recently taught a class, “Painting by Process” at the Cedarburg Cultural Center. The purpose of the class was to take students step by step through planning and execution. Often my students ask me in such classes, “Do you really work this way?” The truth is no, but I should. The class involves composition studies and value studies on the first day. The second day we do a study focusing on color. The last two sessions are spent executing a larger final painting. Each day also involves journaling with prompt questions. While this is not the only way to work- it is a beneficial one. Not all people are planners. I know I am not (at least when it comes to painting). Many painters are spontaneous and in the moment and I think that is important too. But at least once and a while it is important to slow down and plan. Even if it does not result in a masterpiece. The process will force you to think more critically about your art and that habit will carry over even when not intentionally utilized.


I am frequently asked about brushes. When I am teaching brushes are a fundamental component of painting but I use them in my studio rarely. I think many artists, especially those just beginning their painting journey, think that there is a perfect brush for every task. I tend to think that you can make most brushes do what you need (with a few exceptions). So I tend to not spend much time worrying about what number or hair type I have. Of course softer brushes are better for thin applications and blending, and stiff brushes are better for thick paint and texture. Big brushes are better for washes and small ones are better for detail. But I can get a filbert and a round to make pretty much the same marks, and a flat brush makes great lines. So there is a lot of overlap. You don’t need dozens of brushes. But maybe that’s just me. I work mostly with knives anyway. When I do use a brush, my all purpose favorite is a medium soft synthetic flat. Here are a few examples of my most used brushes (when I use brushes at all).