How to create the perfect V when painting foliage, using the fan brush

Creating the perfect V shape when painting foliage on trees can be a little tricky, have you ever felt frustrated or struggled to get the right technique when trying to achieve this look or wondered how I do it?

I use the Series 4 Fan brush, to achieve finer tree details in my paintings.

 Available to purchase here.

Using paint with nothing added, the trick is to load more paint on the brush than you think you will need.  Pulling all the hairs together by brushing both sides of the brush in the paint on the pallet, pulling backwards and turning over to collect the paint and flatten it.  This will pull all the bristles together to form a more uniform brush tip, with no loose hairs sticking out, a nice flat sharp edge is what we're looking for. 

The top edge will form a V shape

You may find one edge will work better than the other so it's best to test it first!

Hold the brush level, with the fan horizontal and the edge of the brush towards the panel, angle the brush at 45 ̊ from the panel then angle the brush tip so it's also about 45 ̊ twisted away from the panel and drop the handle down slightly.

Add the brush mark with a light touch, this will enable you to make the small inverted V. You may find the first couple of marks are more like little round blobs.

In order to get the brush marks looking right you may need to adjust how you hold the brush and try out different angles.

Another way of loading the brush is after pulling backwards and loading the paint onto the brush push back slightly into the paint, this will load more paint onto the tip. Still using the tip of the brush this will make the triangles more uniform, the more paint you put on enables you to get a single brush mark with an impasto effect

It's fairly easy to get consistent brush marks with the lightest of touches.  You can experiment with the pressure you put on the brush to make bigger marks which are more suited to trees in the foreground,  but for trees in the distance you need to make sure the brush marks are a lot smaller by just touching the very tip of the brush.

Adjust the angles, tilt the brush, pull the handle away from the panel or pull it towards the panel. Experiment with how each movement effects the marks on the panel.

If you want more of a feathered, smooth look suitable for the trees in the far distance, you can take more paint off the brush, that will give the effect of having lots of little brush marks with each touch of the brush, almost a furry look.

By adding a small amount of Liquin or thinner to the paint you will achieve a consistency in between an impasto effect and smooth. Loading the tip up by pushing the brush back into the paint will help to give a tighter shape and define the V even more.

Although a good tip to remember, removing paint from the brush will leave a less defined brush mark, so it is important the brush is loaded sufficiently.

Each of these methods works equally as well so long as there is enough paint on the brush, (more than you may think you'll need) the consistency is not super important but the angle of the brush seems to make all the difference.

The series 4 Fan Brush is available in two sizes in my online store.

Remember each brush will behave slightly differently, if you have an older brush with ragged tips it's easy to trim the tips off it to create a sharper shape. 

Happy Painting