Oil Painting Brushwork Techniques for Creating Textures

Many painters agree that using a paintbrush to achieve a different atmosphere and effect is a difficult skill to learn. However, here are some definitions of brushwork techniques that will help you get started on your oil painting career.


This requires thinning the oil paint down to a liquid consistency. Then when applying the paint with a brush, maintain the canvas in a vertical position if you want to have drips or you may lay it down to puddle the paint.

Note that you can actually control the movement of the paint with blotting towels or rags and adding less thinner to make the paint easier to control.


Just like the name suggests, take a stiff or rough brush, a large brush works best here, and scrub the paint hard into the canvas surface. In this case, do not be afraid to apply pressure to the paint to spread it around. Apparently, this method will get good paint coverage without using brushstrokes.

Lines by semi opaque washes

When you use a flat brush for applying paint using the edge, this is a sure way to get great lines effects, while adding a little thinner with oil to the paint will give it more painting control. When you want the sharp end of a brush to be in a particular position, ensure that the brush sweeps through to the other end at the point you would like it to tapper.

beginner painting lessons

Award Winning Learn & Master Painting 3 Day SALE !!!
sive $100 OFF - Grab it Now Before It's Too Late! Click here...


This is similar to scrubbing. The difference here is the amount of thinner used in the paint. You can scumble over other colors with a partially opaque wash to get a strong atmosphere of mist or to soften the overall look.

On the other hand, you can build a successive layer of scumbled washes to get the desired effect. This gives a very soft look without the use of brush strokes. Note that when scumbling, make sure the layer of paint underneath is dry. If the paint is not dry, you will end up pulling the paint off and losing the desired effect.

Thick impasto

Thick impasto is similar to setting icing on cake. In this case, do not make the paint too thin and fully load the brush. The best thing is to load the brush frequently with little paint each time and then try not to touch the canvas too much since this will result in picking up the color underneath.

Dry brushing

Dry brushing is the use of the brush and paint without thinners while using very little paint on the brush. A flat brush will work best for this; you hold the brush as close to the plane of the canvas as possible and you can drag the brush gently across the canvas surface. The dry brushing technique tries to highlight only the raised surface texture of the canvas. You can achieve great effects with this technique, for example like dry brushing red over green or yellow over blue.

Semi opaque or less dense washes

This is the layering up of the paints density done effortlessly with semi dense washes. You put in more thinner to the paint and then apply a number of layers to the point where you get the density and color desired. Because you cannot see partially through to the colors below, you can get the blending look without the need to work with the paint wet on wet. This is also a good means of letting the under color reach the peak in a delicate way.

sell your art

pencil portrait mastery course

oil painting techniques