In a quest to loosen up my painting style I embarked on an online journey (aka Google search) to find some information and inspiration on how it could be achieved.
Fairly quickly, a technique called Big Brush Watercolor by an artist named Ron Ranson appeared in the search results. Many of you are probably familiar with this well known artist, and his volume of wonderful work. At the time of my search, I was not.
It was immediately intriguing to see his ability to produce such beautiful, thoughtful watercolor pieces using these fat, sloppy looking brushes, called Hake brushes. He planted fast, wide strokes on his paper, using a limited palette of rich earth colors. He then added a few scrapes with his fingernail through the still-damp pigment and some final, detail strokes from a rigger brush.
The result was so loose and free and lovely. It was a scene that drew the viewer in. A hundred people could find a hundred different meanings there. It was impressive!
Of course I decided to give these Hake brushes and Ron Ranson’s techniques a try.
I ordered the Ron Ranson Starter Pack in medium. The set included one Hake brush in size medium as well as four acrylic brushes (two rounds, one sword, and a rigger) made by Pro-Arte. Naturally I couldn’t resist, and also ended up ordering two additional Hake brushes, one small and one large. I did manage to resist ordering the extra large :- )
I also bought one of Ron’s instructional books and worked my way through a few of the lessons.
I still have a way to go before I master (or even feel competent) with these big, unpredictable brushes. They are fun to use and some of my results were even good enough to post here (Monochrome Lake).
If you are looking to loosen up your style or just experiment with something outside your usual techniques, I highly recommend you investigate this as a possibility. It can be done with a minimum of investment. I find that the medium Hake and the rigger brush are what I use 90% of the time when working in this technique.
I hope you give it a try and have some fun with it!