Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beautiful brush strokes: seascape by Alex Perez

Painter Alex Perez's beautiful brush strokes, from his online master class video

Chilean landscape painter Alex Perez, perezarte on, made a series of videos of his painting process, forming a master class. They are particularly wonderful for studying his mastery of brush strokes. He explains the variety of brush strokes he uses as the painting progresses – each stage of the painting having different needs.

Each video runs between seven and ten minutes, so watching them all takes a chunk of time, worth it if you are able to do so. He is very generous with his explanations and demonstrations of different kinds of brush strokes, the palette he uses, his compositional decisions, and everything else associated with the process of the painting.

If you only have a little time, be sure to watch Painting demonstration "Master Class" with Alex Perez, Third session part 3 of 4 – the painting is about halfway to two-thirds of the way toward completion, and here we really see the mastery of Perez's brush strokes, and the way he dances them across the canvas. Notice how he holds his brush, often turning his hand backwards (see the image above), saying, "Remember the trick that I use, with the side, with the back of the hair, to give this sensation, this effect of falling water...."

If you are beginning as a painter, it's important to remember that this is one of the later videos in the process, preceded by working out the composition and blocking in the big shapes. Here, in a still image from Painting demonstration Master class with Alex Perez, painting session 2, Part 3 0f 3, you can see how he has drawn the basic composition, and is now blocking in the big shapes. Taped to the easel shelf you can see the photo he took and cropped to the size of the canvas.

If you have a little more time, and want to particularly focus on brush strokes, I'd next watch Painting demonstration "Master Class" with Alex Perez, Third session part 2 of 4, Perez demonstrates how his customized filberts allow him to create beautiful dancing strokes. He also discusses his palette, which is something like an expanded historical palette. Remember that he uses oil paints, which give him much longer drying times than we have with acrylics. You can get that longer drying time by either adding retarder or slow drying medium to your acrylic paints, or by using Golden's Open Acrylics, which have a three to four day drying time.

He is clear that what he is doing at this point is still "nothing in detail – only, the second coat, play with colors, lighting, shadows...."

Painter Alex Perez with the completed painting, "Las Salinas beach rocks"

In Master class, painting demonstration by Alex Perez, "the final session," Perez gives the final touches of color and light, demonstrating more of the sensitivity to the brush strokes that we saw in the earlier videos.

Alex Perez demonstrates how he customizes his brushes

If you have more time, or are able to come back to it later, in Painting demonstration Master class with Alex Perez, painting session 2, Part 1 0f 3, he shows how he alters his brushes, making customized filbert shapes out of round brushes, so as to get the right shapes and flexibility to his brush strokes. If you are dissatisfied with any of your brushes, you might consider trying something of the sort – although you might try it first on inexpensive or very old, worn-out brushes to experiment.

To return to an earlier stage, in which Perez uses another kind of brush stroke, in Master Class with Alex Perez, Third Session - Part 1 of 3, he has completed blocking in the big shapes of color, and is refining the shapes further, coming in with more complex colors. "So I use a kind of broken, short brush strokes, to give, as I say before, much interesting... shapes." He continues to explain and demonstrate clearly how he blends the brush strokes, changing from short, choppier strokes to a smoothing, rhythmic stroke with a clean brush, followed by a kind of caressing stroke, as he blends in new areas of color and smooths the edges of the cloud and sky shapes.

"One of the most important things is to give rhythm – the rhythm of the brush strokes, the rhythm of the composition," he says. It is a treat to watch the rhythm of his brush strokes as he paints. You can view his website at and his blog at

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Karen for showing and explain so kindly what I doing in my video.
    Best wishes.
    Alex Perez