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"The point of dabs or 'broken color' is to make the paint become light. Broken color isn't an end in itself; it is a technique to convey the thrill of careful study and right emotion. Brush strokes ought to be varied and reflect a range of emotion. We need to learn how to caress with our brush, and attack." -- Jerry Fresia
If your brush isn't up to the job of caressing and attacking a canvas, it's time to put it aside and take up a new one. A good brush has a spring in its step, bounce back when you lift it off the canvas. The hairs don't splay in all directions, and don't fall out.

See Also:
Myths About Impressionism
What is Broken Color?

Image Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc


December 24, 2012 at 1:17 am
(1) Beth says:

Exactly!! Firstly, I totally agree with the implication that technique — any given technique — is only a means to an end… not the end itself. Secondly, I also totally agree that brushes need to be replaced… usually more often than we may think! And of course, the harder you are on your brushes, the more often they need to be replaced!

Marion, do you have an article about brush replacement &/or care? I’d love to be able to send some folk to it!

December 24, 2012 at 1:32 am
(2) Marion BE says:

@Beth Only pieces on washing brushes, but “When to replace a brush” is definitely an article that wants writing! Thanks for the idea!

December 24, 2012 at 4:48 am
(3) Natalya Kalugina says:

In this relation another question arises. What force should be applied to a brush when painting? I know artist painting over 40 years, who has to change brushes with every painting of medium size for they become completely worn (no bristles at all). Wrom the other hand I use brushes for ages. May be I am wrong and it is necessarlly important to apply force when painting in order to provide better adhesion?

December 24, 2012 at 8:02 am
(4) Yover says:

If Impressionism is not about little dabs, Neo Impressionism is!
So many paintings that require patience, high level of aestheticism,reflexions and hard work! And when I came accross this morning on this exhibition in Australia, I fell under the spell of the paintings.


To be neo impressionist is not a mistake,

December 24, 2012 at 8:27 am
(5) Anne says:

Those paintings are examples of pointillism, a technique used by Seurat and others of this era. It is using broken color. Another thing that makes Impressionism so wonderful is the use of color and the ability to draw and put it all together.

December 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm
(6) Yover says:

About dabs dots dashes strokes commas…
For me, the big difference between impressionism and pointillism is that the former seems to be more sensitive than intellectual and the latter, more cerebral and more meticulous about the shape of the dots. But at last, the two Schools of painting shared the same purpose: as said Marion Boddy-Evans about Pointillism:
“…The dots blend together in your eye to create tones when you look at the painting from a distance”.
So Pointillism and Impressionism are two members of a same peaceful family. Gustave Klimt among others knew that so well.

December 26, 2012 at 3:24 am
(7) About.com Guide to Painting says:

@Natalya If you’re getting results you like, then you’re applying sufficient force! The rate at which a brush wears down also depends on the roughness of the surface and quality of the brushhairs. Coarse gesso can be very tough on a brush!

December 26, 2012 at 3:37 am
(8) Natalya Kalugina says:

Thank you Marion! Happy Holydays!

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