Load that brush

A common issue when you start painting is simply not using enough paint. You place small dabs of paint on your palette and timidly dance around the canvas, but you never really commit to the painting this way.

I was the same when I started. You can almost feel my lack of confidence in some of my earlier paintings. This is not a bad thing, but rather just part of the learning process.

Then I read a quote by John Singer Sargent:

“No small dabs of color – you want plenty of paint to paint with”.

This hit home with me and I started simply using more paint on my palette. This allowed me to load up my brush to capacity and the paint started flowing freely onto the canvas.

Not only was I able to commit more to my strokes, but my whole painting process was streamlined as I was not constantly squeezing more paint onto my palette.

The problem often stems from trying to be economical with how much paint we use (I know paint can be very expensive). We are afraid to waste paint, so we place small, timid dabs on the palette which are barely enough to lightly stain the entire canvas.

Then, as our timid dabs start to run out, we often start to compromise by over-diluting the paint or by using inappropriate colors. Then once we have finally exhausted the color completely, we place another equally timid dab down and repeat the situation.

By doing this you can never really commit to your strokes and your process is constantly being interrupted. Your painting will most likely end up looking half-hearted and faint.

Luckily the solution is very simple. Use lots more paint on your palette. Try not to worry about wastage – that is just part of painting.

Obviously, there is no need to actively waste paint and there will be some colors you need more of than others (for example you will probably always need lots of white).

The financial side of you may cringe when squeezing such generous amounts of paint onto your palette. But once it is there, you may as well use it and then you can let your creative side run free. With a loaded brush, the paint will run smoothly onto the canvas.

Now, this is not to say you should ALWAYS paint with a very loaded brush. At the start of paintings, it is perfectly fine to be non-committal with your strokes as you are getting a feel for the composition. But once you have gotten comfortable, you need to commit.

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it! Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my Painting Academy course.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy


Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

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3 comments on “Load that brush”

  1. This is true, hard to get anything done without a loaded brush. It reminds me that art has to do with confidence. By analyzing a painting it is easy to see how confident the artist felt.


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