6 Secret Brush Skills for Watercolor Painters:
Thick 'n' Thin

Bands of Color •  Thick 'n' Thin •  Wrist Flick •  Painterly Strokes •  The Stab •  Cutting Edges
Artists add interest and variety by altering the thickness in a single stroke of a flowing paint. By using the tip of your brush you can get a fine line flowing. If you add pressure as you pull the stroke the brush spreads and the stroke thickens. If you lessen pressure the stroke will get thinner. This exercise combines this brush skill with a twist on the Bands of Color exercise.

Start by pre-mixing several puddles of different colors, basic primary colors are fine.
Make sure your brush is full but not sopping wet. Work the tip on a clean area of your palette until it comes to a satisfactory point.
Starting at the edge of your paper gently pull a fine line with the tip. Start to apply pressure to the brush to thicken the stroke.
Then lessen the pressure until the line thins out again. Continue this thick'n'thin stroke across the page.




Rinse your brush and change colors. Start a new thick'n'thin stroke next to the last one.
You can try to thicken your stroke where the adjacent line is thin, but in particluar, avoid touching the other washes with the new colors you lay down.
If your brush starts to runs dry, reload your brush from your palette and continue the stroke where you left off.
You will notice that different pigments and brands of watercolor paint have different "flow" characteristics as you practice.




This exercise will help you learn to develop more expressive lines through brush and wash control.
Being able to instinctively thicken or thin a brush stroke on command while you are painting, and have it go where you want it, is a good thing. It is a learnable skill as you will see.
I used a round #10 red sable for most of this exercise, while using a round #4 red sable for smaller fill-in strokes.

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