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Perfecting those strokes

Many many years ago when I first started decorative painting, all I wanted to do was perfect my comma strokes. I would even venture to say that I was “obsessive” about it. I must have painted hundreds and thousands of it on reams and reams of white and black art paper! I got the feeling that my brushes didn’t particularly like being used to paint on paper so I spoiled many brushes during this phase of my painting journey!

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with practising on paper. Its just not the best surface to practise on.

Paper or cardboard is an absorbent surface and so your paint behaves in a different way when you paint on it. You get to practise your strokes but the surface is different from the surface you will paint on. The better thing to do is quickly give it a coat of acrylic paint, dry it then practise on it. It loses the absorbency and it feels like you’re painting on your basecoated project. Its closer to painting on the real thing.

Better still, get a rectangular piece of thin MDF – e.g. the thickness you might use for a placemat – and basecoat both sides. I used to basecoat one with a black background and one with a white background. Later I started basecoating a couple with my favourite background colour (or flavour of the month!) and used them as my practise board.

The good thing about these MDF boards are that they are reusable. When I’m done practising on any of the boards, I just basecoat over it and voila, I have a fresh practise board. You can just keep doing this over and over again.

Of course if you want to keep your practise strokes as a keepsake or for future reference, the basecoated paper (or cardboard) is a better option.

At that time I also discovered Loew-Cornell Brush-Up Paper at my friend’s decorative painting studio and shop in Singapore. I thought it was a very unique product – its made of a specially-coated paper and you only need a brush and water to use it.

 Loew-Cornell Brush-up Paper

To practise on it, just dip your round brush, or any brush you want to practise with, in CLEAN water, remove the excess water by dabbing the brush twice on a piece of paper towel, then stroke away! You will see the strokes you’re painting on the paper. After a while, the water evaporates and you have all that space to practise on again. No traces or markings are left on the paper, unless of course you have used dirty water where you’ve say, washed your brush in. Just make sure you use clean tap water every time.

 Practising strokework on the Brush-up Paper

You get one piece in a pack and it measures 9” by 13”. I really treasured my brush-up paper! I pasted it on  a piece of cardboard so that it doesn’t spoil at the corners and its still in perfect condition this very day!

You can order the Brush-up Paper from any painting supply store on the internet.

Artezan students in Kuwait can purchase it at the studio. They’re only KD1.750 each. Hurry because I don’t have that many in stock!

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