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Techniques Check

People who wish to paint often ask about “detail”. Most believe that detail is created with a small brush. The smaller the brush, the more detail can be achieved. But that’s not so.

The opposite happens. When an artist relies on a small brush to create intricate imagery those strokes are always prominent. These then only serve to make the areas look underpainted and amateurish where the small brush isn’t used.

A second consideration is that intricacy of imagery in a painting betrays the artist’s lack of technique – or celebrates the artist’s mastery of technique. Artists who use poor technique simply cannot achieve the quality of intricacy that advanced technique can achieve. Poor technique cannot capture the vitality of an image: the energy and visual power that advanced technique, when used masterfully, captures.

Here is a tiny section of a painting. This photo shows a section about three inches (8cm) wide. It was created with a big brush and a knife, using five advanced techniques. No small brush here, at all.

Tiny detail section of a painting that has only begun.Image area is 8cm x 5.5cm. Overall painting size is 90cm x 60cm

That painting has just started. It’s less than a tenth of the way to completion.

What this means too is that if you are a buyer or art, you can check immediately the technical knowledge and proficiency of your possible purchase by looking into a small section of the painting. If it isn’t full of visual vitality, in a cohesive visual strata, that artist is lacking technical power and won’t be able to harness their full potential as an artist unless they learn better technique.