Interesting Dry Brush Details on John Singer Sargent’s Watercolors

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) worked in watercolor throughout his career, but it wasn’t until he was in his forties, already famous painter, that his interests in the medium accelerated.

Exploring here the use of Dry Brush technique to express almost any subject on paper.

The term dry brush is actually a misnomer, as the paint on the brush is really damp.

With dry brush you use just a small amount of paint on the brush, working on dry or damp textured paper and dragging the brush across it to create broken areas of color or interesting textural brushstrokes.

By holding the handle low so that it is almost parallel to the paper, you will achieve the best results.

The technique is especially good for painting things like the bark of a tree, a course beard, hair, water and so on….

Here some great examples from Sargent’s masterful watercolors.

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Venice: Under the Rialto Bridge – 1909 / Water
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Simplon Pass: Avalanche Track – about 1909-11/ rock retails
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Bedouins – 1905-6 / head scarves (kaffiyeh)
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The Garden Wall – 1910 / The texture of the wall
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The Garden Wall – 1910 / Textured description
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Simplon Pass: the tease – about 1911 / the lawn’s suggestion
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Simplon Pass: the green parasol – about 1911
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Fabric details
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Greenery details