How to Hold a Paintbrush

artist success tips Mar 27, 2017

The way you hold your paintbrush will definitely affect how your painting turns out. I'm going to explain a few ways I hold my paintbrush. You can copy my ways and with practice you'll gain proficiency and you also may figure out your own personal ways to hold your paintbrush to achieve different looks and feelings in your paintings. These grips, though, are the most widely used because they are comfortable and feel good in the hand.

The way that I almost always hold my brush is exactly how I hold a pen or pencil except that my grip is lighter on the brush and I hold it a bit higher up on the shaft than I do a pen or pencil. Also, when I'm painting I point the paintbrush straight on rather than at an angle which is done with a pencil, generally. Keep in mind that I'm a lefty so you'll need to reverse things if you are a righty.

Look at how I place my fingers on the shaft of the paintbrush and also how I place them on the pen. It's the same positioning except for the angle at which I hold the paintbrush, which is more relaxed, and my fingers are higher up on the shaft of the paintbrush than the pen or pencil. This is the grip that I use most often:


Here are a few paintings I painted using this grip:

This loosely painted piece that I call Dodge Daytona is an example of a piece I painted holding my paintbrush like a pen: I also painted this one using the "pen" grip. It's called Solunska Street, Belgrade and you can see that a loose grip can yield a very loose painting like Dodge Daytona or a tighter piece like Solunska Street, Belgrade.

The grip that I use when I'm painting a straight line or anything not loose, like Dodge Daytona and Solunska Street, Belgrade, is in the photo below. You'll see that I'm holding the paintbrush almost on the brush hairs. My grip is tighter and I'm definintely concentrating quite hard when I'm painting straight lines.  

Here is an example of a painting where I used the relaxed pen-like grip on the larger patches of colors and the "death grip" to paint the thin, dark lines that separate each of the colors in this piece called Urban Camoflauge, which, incidentally, is the 2-D version of the cars I painted, like Dodge Daytona.

This is my body position when I'm using the death grip.  I hold my arm off of the surface I'm painting onto by resting it on my right hand:



There is one more grip I use that I will show you in my next post.  Until then, grab your brushes, try out my styles and if these don't feel natural to you then use what does feel natural.  

Please show us your work and tell us about your experiences using my brush grips or any of your own personal brush grips in a comment below.  


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Thanks and ART ON all you awesome people.


xo Cynthia

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