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Pacific Grove Pools

How to Depict Emotion in Your Artwork

Ways to communicate emotions in art through brushwork

Pacific Grove Pools by Barry John Raybould
Pacific Grove Pools by Barry John Raybould

Use brushstrokes to convey the emotion you feel when looking at a scene. Fast, vigorous strokes can convey the excitement of moving water or crashing surf. Smooth blended brushstrokes communicate calm, peaceful and still days. In “Pacific Grove Pools”, I was excited by the movement of the water and the waves breaking. Look at the vigorous brushwork in the foam that helps to promote a sense of movement.

Painting emotions - bold brushwork
Bold

Compare the bold brushstrokes of “Pacific Grove Pools” with the calmer, smoother brushstrokes of “Blue Lake”.

Smooth Brushworks
Smooth

Emphasize the stillness through brushwork

In “Blue Lake”, the mood is completely different. In this painting I used smooth strokes to express the peaceful, calm nature of the scene. The brushwork emphasizes the stillness of the pond and the silence of the day.

Blue Lake by Barry John Raybould
Blue Lake by Barry John Raybould

The smooth texture of the paint quality you apply, and a subdued color scheme in your painting, can communicate an emotion of calm contemplation. Conversely, if you use a vigorous paint quality and a vibrant color scheme you can communicate a more lively emotion.

To learn more about brushwork

To learn more about how to create dynamic and interesting brushwork, see the lessons on Brushwork Building Block in our Apprentice Program.

How to Depict Emotion in Your Artwork

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