Holding a paintbrush

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The most common way to hold a brush is just like you hold a pencil. It’s natural and works for almost any brush technique. The beginner often has a tendency to hold the brush far forward, while the experienced artist usually holds a little higher up on the handle.

Most often, you have a grip far forward on the brush when you paint in detail and further back on the handle when you paint more freely and loosely. But where on the brush you grip is both a matter of purpose and a matter of taste. You can actually hold far forward and still paint in a freer style and vice versa.

There is plenty of information about brush technique on various blogs, websites and videos, with titles such as “5 brush techniques you must master” and “7 ways to hold a brush”. You are given instructions to hold in a certain way when creating a certain brushstroke, while for another technique you must hold in a different way. Some writers even give names to different ways of holding a brush. But all such information is useless if it does not feel natural to the user.

Personally, I almost always hold my brush in the same way, much like a pencil. The only thing I change is where on the brush I grip it, depending on what I need to accomplish.

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I usually hold my brush like a pencil, it works for most techniques.

I think everyone acquires a natural approach to the brush over the years. Any tips such as holding a brush in a certain way when painting with a certain technique, and in a different way with another technique are misguided and can reduce the joy of painting for the beginner. Don’t try to imitate various other artists’ ways of holding, it will probably work badly for you.

How to hold a brush is a personal thing that varies from artist to artist, there is no right or wrong. I think, instead of following all the recommendations from various sources online, that you develop your own way of using your brushes.

The most important thing is to have a relaxed relationship with your brush. Not to grip the brush stiffly and hard, but loosely and comfortably. Precision does not arise from a strained relationship with the tool, but from a relaxed one.

Unfortunately, this cannot be taught in a text, it is a skill that develops over time. All beginners grip the brush hard and firmly. After many paintings, the performance anxiety decreases, and the grip becomes more relaxed and natural. The same with where on the brush it is held, over time each artist finds their own way of holding a brush to achieve a certain result. I don’t think it can be taught, it comes naturally.

Just keep in mind that it is possible to change your grip, and sometimes holding the brush differently helps, or gives a better result. Over time, you develop your own way of holding a brush that feels natural to you.

So that’s why I say: ignore all the instructions, online and in books, about holding the brush a certain way or another. Paint a lot, then this will gradually develop naturally.

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