Loading the Brush

Loading the Brush

Hi. I’m Brad Teare and this is thick paint. Today we are going to be talking about a technique known as loading the brush. I’d like to demonstrate what I mean by that by showing some close-ups of some of my paintings. As you get closer to this patch of paint you can see a lot a color intertwined together. I accomplished that by putting different layers of color on my brush usually using a palette knife. Here I have a 36” x 36” canvas. It has been gessoed and I have transferred my drawing over to the canvas using a grid. You can see it here. I have used a chalk line to drop that in. This is a little bit different from what I normally use. I normally put down a layer of red colored gesso or stain the canvas with red iron oxide over the gesso. Just as an experiment I wanted to try this gray gesso. Normally I will put red underneath a predominantly green painting so little bits of red will shimmers through and get a little bit of vibration. I don’t like to rely on formulas so I wanted to try something different here. I don’t think it well affect our sky too much and that is what I’ll be demonstrating. I’m going to mix some color here on the palette and we’ll dive in. This is my value scale and it has values from one to nine. That’s black and that’s white and there are seven values in between. We’ll make one of these later. This is the leftover paint from the last time I painted. After I’m done painting I cleanup my palette and put all my color up here. I find it’s a nice way to get some broken color, some random color into a boring mixture. I’m going to lay out my palette here. The sky will be anywhere from a nine value down to seven in the darkest area. I don’t want to overmix my color. As you can see there’s a lot of color going into this mixture. That color is a seven if we mix a little Andanthrone blue in there that’ll be about right. It’s starting to be too low of a value. We’ve got to keep that light. Let’s check that. That’s a seven so that’s good. What’s that color? It’s an eight. So that’s good. The closer you hold the brush to the canvas the more paint you get off. Here’s the painting with the sky all painted in. I’ve mixed up some paint in order to paint the mountain range. What I want to do now is paint in the mountain using the smaller brush and the three pigments I mixed up. Take a look at this stroke right here. I put that on the brush from my palette knife here. I’m just going to lay that in right here. I don’t want to overwork it too much. I put a little but of white paint in there. Now I’m picking up a little bit of lighter paint from the sky and just to put it there. And that’s basically it. You’ll notice a lot of texture there. I hope that was of some benefit. If you have any ideas you’d like to add to this technique I hope you’ll write them down in the comments. I look forward to your ideas. Thank you.


  • Dr. I cure you with my Kukri says:

    a very interesting and informative insight on that paint technique

    thank you very much Mr. Teare

  • Daniel Andrews says:

    Hey Brad
    Are you using any types of medium during these. Drying time may not be a concern, but I was curious.
    Great vidoe's, ill be following the blog.
    All the best.

  • Brad Teare says:


    I usually do add walnut oil to my paint when I do a sky or water. This didn't make the edit. Thanks for the chance to clarify.

  • Cindy Lee Jones_Art says:

    Thank you for posting this demo and your thoughts on painting thick, very useful information here. I'm looking forward to following your blog.

  • Brad Teare says:


    Any chance you might be able to post a video demo of this technique? Sounds intriguing.

  • Brad Teare says:

    You are very welcome. I hope the technique works well for you.

  • A McConaughey says:

    Have just discovered your wonderful blog & videos. Are you familiar at all with the work of "Canada's Van Gogh" — Tom Thomson? He painted a century ago, mostly in Algonquin Park. I think you will be rewarded if you look into him, and the artists known as the Group of Seven. There was recently a retrospective at the London UK, Dulwich Gallery

  • Brad Teare says:

    Generally speaking you can use acrylic brushes with oils but not the inverse. The acrylic gums up the natural bristles.

  • DECiNERGY | Expressiver Realismus says:

    Thxs for your info … – i call this way to paint "EXPRESSIVER REALISMUS / EXPRESSIVE REALISM" – the style of art from Andre Krigar or similar … Or my own 😉 – DECiNERGY

  • Brad Teare says:

    I think a hog bristle flat is best. I almost use the bristles like a palette knife (laying the brush almost parallel to the canvas) so longer hairs are best.

  • Aleph26 says:

    Hello Brad, Thank you for this tip, but isn't too expensive as you seem to use a lot of paint, do you mix in some alkyd gel or impasto medium? I guess you do, just wanted to ask though 😉

  • MommyLovesBigBoys says:

    Thank you. I learn so much from watching you paint. This will help me improve my art.

  • Scotty Simpson says:

    Great video once again Brad. One suggestion I've got for a video, unless you've already done one similar already, would be on what you think about when you are simplifying areas of colour and how you train yourself to not get overwhelmed by all the detail in a landscape reference photo, or when we're out in the field. For example grass could take up a third of the painting, but painting all the blades of grass would take forever, and probably wouldn't look very realistic, so it would be better to simplify the details, hues and tones, and vary the shapes of these colours on the canvas by adding strokes of thick paint.
    Thanks a lot.

  • Carlos J Dommar says:

    Hi Brad, I am following you since few weeks and like very your approach to painting. I am also trying to develop my impasto as an expressive medium. I find especially very interesting your discussion about color temperatures and values in painting and real colors in nature, as well as your broken color-field effects discussion. I have tried your multi-colored brush load technique with a palette knife and not been successful so far to get nice broken color, but kind of mud instead. I guess it needs more practice. I am also wondering what do you think of impasto mediums such as waxbees, W&N Impasto alkyd medium, etc. I am using the latter as it expands the paint considerably and facilitates the flow at the same time. I supposed it is also a way to save some color, but mostly I like the slightly more buttery consistence it confers to the paint which usually I find a bit to stiff right out of the tube. Many thinks for the vids and all the info you put in your blog and your wattpad book. I find it very valuable.

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