The wiper painting effect


Sometimes you see amateur paintings with a slightly curved character. All major lines in the picture, such as the horizon, are slightly curved. I wondered why for years, when it suddenly hit me: the artist has painted the painting in the same way that a windshield wiper goes over the car window.

It is of course easy for the movements of the wrist, or the entire forearm, to control the painting. It feels completely natural to just let the brush sweep over the paper and follow the movements that feel intuitive.

What now made me think of this way of moving the brush, was when I wrote the text for the last exercise I posted on the blog. I realized that I was guilty of this in that painting. The waves in the lake were slightly bent in several places.

A student’s painting with slightly curved lines in the landscape.
My painting with slightly curved lines in the waves on the lake.

When painting quickly, and when the same movement is repeated several times, the risk of these curved lines occurring increases. Happily, it’s easily remedied: Just keep it in mind and it won’t happen. So don’t let the brush go like a windshield wiper across the paper. One should avoid using the wrist and forearm when painting, they should be “locked” and the whole arm should be moved instead of just bending the wrist.

This applies to slightly longer lines and surfaces, when you paint a little more delicately, you may use your fingers to control the brush. But even on smaller details, like blades of grass or branches on a tree, you sometimes see this windshield wiper effect. Something is wrong with the painting when you can tell if the artist is right- or left-handed by the way the tree’s branches are painted.

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