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Sunday 10 May 2020

Sunday Afternoon Art – Make Your Own Paintbrush

Sunday Afternoon Art is our monthly art drop-in session which is usually held at the Gallery for families to take part in on the first Sunday of every month. Whilst the Gallery is closed, we are hosting a new Sunday Afternoon Art activity online every week so you can continue to get creative with us whilst at home.

Seven used paintbrushes lined up on a table. They are made from different materials such as string and sponge.

Today we are going to be making our own paintbrush.  You will be painting with it, so have this in mind when you get started.  If you don’t like the idea of it getting messy, make two so you can keep one clean and use the other one.

We will be doing this in the following stages:

  1. Make your paintbrush
  2. Find inspiration
  3. Get Painting!

1. Make your paintbrush

You will need some sort of stick to be the handle for the brush.  You can use:

  • a lollipop stick
  • a stick from in the garden
  • you can concertina (fold) some card and tape together
  • or even use the other end of another paintbrush
A paintbrush, a lollipop stick, a twig and cardboard
The process of making a handle from card, with some cereal packaging, it folded in a concertina and it tapes together to make a handle.

You then need to find items which could be used as bristles – this is what we call the part of the paintbrush that you use to paint.  You can use anything you like – as long as you don’t mind it getting painted.  You can use string, sponges, cotton wool buds, cotton wool, feathers, cleaning clothes, leaves from your garden or anything natural that you can find that (don’t pick the flowers though!).  Please do check with an adult before you use anything.  If you don’t have anything in your house to use, you could use paper or recycling that you can cut up. I’ll make a few examples to help with this.

An array of different materials: leaves, a spone, string, a plastic bottle, paper, sticks, tissue

You can now attach your materials to the end of your stick in the same place that you find bristles on a paintbrush.  I think tape works best, but you can tie on with string too.  Make sure that they hang over the edge so that you can paint with it.  I have cut into some of the materials to change the way that they work.  You won’t be able to wash your brush, so you can make more than one.

Scissors cutting materials up
A hand holding a lollipop stick with some materials stuck onto the end of it

Mine are made from:

  • Kitchen towel, string and sponge on a lollipop stick
  • Some ordinary white paper with slits cut in it wrapped around a stick from the garden
  • Strips of plastic from a cut up bottle (ask an adult to help with this), a leaf and some sponge attached to the other end of a paintbrush
  • A leaf and a stick stuck to some concertinaed cardboard
  • More plastic, a leaf and some other natural materials found on the ground attached to a lollipop stick
  • String and sponge on a concertinaed cardboard handle, with a leaf and some plastic at the other end to be used as a pen
  • Two more paintbrushes with sticks as handles and lots of natural things stuck to the end
The different brushes made from different materials

2. Finding Inspiration

Do you ever think about how to use a paintbrush? What different ways can you move your paintbrush to make different marks?

Stippling is done by making dots. What happens if you dab you brush on the paper? Softly. Then harder. Try the brush from the top, the side.

Brush strokes can stretch out the marks. What different marks can you make by doing that? What about sharp strokes or long ones?

Today, we are taking inspiration from two artworks in the Orleans House Gallery Richmond Borough Art Collection

Philip Connard, River Scene

First of all Philip Connard’s River Scene from 1950. Connard lived in the borough later in life and a few of his works are in the Borough Art Collection. Connard is a highly regarded artist who, as well as fighting in WW2, later became an official war artist of the Royal Navy. Do you like Connard’s work? How do you think he used his paintbrush? You will not be able to create something like this with your brush – but it is a good example to think about how we use our paintbrush.

Felice Hodges, Sails

Then we have Felice Hodges’s Sails from 2001. Felice is an abstract painter. Look at her picture. What do you think abstract means? In art, it can often be difficult to see what an abstract painting is of – is it of anything at all? The work is called Sails – what could it depict? Sometimes art is just about capturing a feeling or emotion. How has Hodges used her brush?

3. Get Painting!

A few things to think about:

  • Use acrylic or poster paint, or whatever you can find in your house. This won’t work well with watercolour paint though so avoid using these!
  • Don’t use water as you won’t be able to clean the paint off very well and the water may make the brush fall apart or difficult to use.
  • Your brush may break or fall apart anyway. You can re-stick it if this happens – don’t worry.
  • You may end up mixing up your colours – so think about the colours you use. Which colours are the primary colours? Red, yellow and blue. We use these to mix other colours. What colour do you get if you mix red and yellow? Blue and red? Yellow and blue?  Here is a colour wheel to help you with mixing your colours.  If you put everything together you get brown – which is a lovely colour, but it might not be what you were hoping for. You could use just one colour and see what marks you can make.
  • Another way to stop colours mixing is to wait for a colour to dry before you add the next colour.
  • Your work may end up quite abstract. That is OK. This activity is about using the tools available and not creating an exact copy of something. You can look at some famous artist works to inspire you. Look up Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly or Mary Abbott (though there are many more)
A colour wheel depicting the primary and secondary colours

Pick your paint and colours and get started. There are no strict rules here – just have some fun. Try expressing yourself. Lockdown can be stressful – try relieving some pressure by painting.

Paintbrushes in a palette
A picture being painted
Lots of paintings

Don’t forget to share what you have been creating at #OrleansHouseGallery