I have said before how much I love painting grass and I love paintings of grass. But how does the artist do it? Paint every single stoke? Yes sometimes. I am constantly looking for more effective ways to paint the grass in my paintings and I constantly study paintings of grass to see different effects and how they were done. I am talking about oil paintings not painting with acrylic paints or water colour which are not my medium.
One of our most famous Australian artists Jeffrey Smart liked painting grass. Sometimes there was little texture shown in his grass as in People in a Cornfield on a Cliff (1968).
But most of time he liked to paint every single blade as in Near Ponticino (1978)
And in this section from his mural City Landscapes (1970).
And my favourite Jeffrey Smart painting The Listeners (1965).
If you want to see more of the paintings of Jeffrey Smart check him out here. One word: Brilliant.
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty and see how it’s done. Here are some of the brushes I use when painting grass. The first of these is a fan brush which is very popular with artists. There many different sizes available. The next is a wonderful new find called a Vario-Tip brush which is used by water colourists. It has hairs of different lengths as gives a great effect. The last is a flat brush I ‘pruned’ to ‘sharpen’ the ends.
And these are liner brushes (also called riggers) used for painting single blades of grass and any very fine work.
Liners usually have longer hair than other brushes though you can see I have tiny liners as well. They are used when you want to maintain a certain width in the strokes. Importantly the brush doesn't belly out in a teardrop shape. The longer hairs hold more paint so you don’t have to refill as often.
Liners are also used for painting leaves and rigging on ships (hence the name rigger). I have many other brushes I use for foliage which I’ll show you soon. Some of them I have crafted for a particular purpose.
Here is some grass I painted using these brushes from little tuffs to painting each blade. Sorry about the photo quality! I did the egs on a canvas and the magnification of the photo has brought out the grain (no pun intended!).
My best ‘grass’ painting is The Fence Post which I’ve shown in an earlier Blog so wont repeat here. I did enjoy painting the grass in Cool Relief so here is a slice of the painting. I painted every blade with a liner brush.
Here is another painting where grass figures predominantly. It is Christina's Prison by the American realist Andrew Wyeth. The painting is incredibly haunting but brilliantly painted. Here is a link for you to see a better quality. https://www.pixelle.co/andrew-wyeth/
I'm a central Victorian so most grass to me is golden, straw like, dry. In my MindStudio I don't see lush green grass but dry stalks each fighting the other for survival. This is a painting by Clara Southern and I'm willing to bet that even my Victorian subscribers haven't heard of her. Sorry about the poor quality of her painting but yes you can see the influence of the likes of Walter Withers and Frederick McCubbin. She studied with both of these artists. Tomorrow I will tell you her story. This is An Old Bee Farm and again here is a link for a better quality image. https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/3021/
This Blog has only been a snap shot into grass but I hope you can see how important grass is to a painter and to be able to paint it just the right way is a constant goal. As you go on your morning walk take time to look at the grass as you go by. The blades are like snowflakes- not one is the same. I particularly love it when the grass struggles up between the rocks and bricks. And there is my segue to my favourite topic.
It is no secret that I love bricks, love looking at them and love painting them. I’m nearly ready to let you into my world of clay and mortar! Soon!