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About Drybrushing - The 'Pounce' Method: Article or Project

Assorted stiff white bristled ROUND brushes
Assorted non-fire stains (acrylic ceramic paints)
Sponge
Water
Paint Palette or tile
Paper sack or similar
Suitable bisque

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BASICS ON HOW TO DRY BRUSH - POUNCING

There are several methods of dry brushing. One is used for smoothly detailed items (I refer to it as pouncing) and the other for highly detailed/textured items (I refer to it as dragging). Highly detailed items give the best contrast , are easier, and give the most contrast in details. The following method of dry brushing is common for the less detailed/textured items, those with a smother finish and to obtain a fabric/cloth type of effect.

Begin your project by having a prepared piece of bisque, fired to cone 03-05. Wipe your bisque down with a damp sponge and use a stiff bristled brush to make sure all the detailing is free of dust particles. Let it dry thoroughly. Make sure you have a good selection in sizes of stiff ROUND white bristled brushes. DO NOT WET your brushes through out this process, even to change colors.

To begin painting, you will apply a base coat on the entire piece with stain. You may need to add a small amount of water to your brush occasionally to allow the paint to flow into the deep crevices. Scrub paint into the design and then smooth it out so there are no brush strokes and an even, smooth application. You may need a second coat or at least touch-ups because when air bubbles pop, you will see missed spots in the crevices.

The technique used here is known as 'pounce' dry brushing. Typically, that is base coating an item with a base color and them by applying darkest to lightest, building up contrasting colors slowly.

To dry brush, take your DRY white stiff bristled round brushes. DO NOT wet them prior to paint application. Make a small puddle of paint on your palette. Run the tip edge of the brush through the edge of a puddle of paint, applying a small amount of paint to the tips of the brush bristles. It will take some practice to know how much to add at one time, so don’t give up if you don’t seem to be making much progress or if you pick up too much paint.

Holding your brush upright, bristles down, scrub the paint into your brush by using a pressing circular motion on a piece of newspaper or brown paper sack (or similar). This will work your paint into the bristles. Your paint should NEVER move up the bristles further than about half way or you are using too much paint.

Lightly swipe the brush sidewise across the paper (all sides of the brush). There should be little or no paint show on the paper if touched after the initial swiping. The process of swiping will remove excess traces that would splotch on your piece. If you leave a trail of a lot of paint, you have picked up too much and may have to wipe off more. The point is to be able to lightly touch your brush down on the paper or the bisque without leaving a splotch of color.

Next, POUNCE your brush on your item. To do this, hold your brush straight up, perpendicular to the item (90 degree angle). Briskly strike down on the bisque and then lift your brush. Repeat the pouncing quickly and direct strokes to evenly cover the area desired. Slowly increase pressure of the brush as the paint unloads on the area being dry brushed. When no more paint is evident, reload your brush. Work evenly and do one coat over the entire area and then go back and apply another layer of color. Each layer will enhance the color and the coverage. DO NOT apply so much paint that it fills the crevices. If this happens, let the paint dry then go back and reapply your base coat to the area and when dry, start over with dry brushing. This is where patience pays off. You may have to apply 7, 8 10 coats to get the contrast you desire, but don’t rush it. Add as many layers as needed to get the color as strong/bright as you want it. As you become more proficient, it will become easier. After one color is applied, a lighter color is most often applied over that, each one adding more depth and highlights. Project instructions will explain further.

Do not try to rush it. Do not keep scrubbing the brush on the paper until the paint is gone before applying to the piece. You just want to get it worked into the bristles and then when you swipe the sides off, that will make it so there will not be a bright dab of color with your first stroke. Remember to start with a very light touch on your item and then slowly increase pressure as you ‘control’ the application.

As mentioned previously, DO NOT wash your brush between colors. Follow directions for each piece as they usually address changing colors. If you absolutely need to remove all traces of color, wash the brush and choose another dry one to continue with a new color.

NOTE: if the paint begins to get close to the ferrule (metal shaft around bristles) you are picking up too much paint and/or you are not unloading all of it on your item. If needs be, use a paper towel and wipe excess color from the brush.

Dry brushing wears out brushes rather quickly, so try to find a balance between scrubbing your bristles to unload the paint and scrubbing away the bristles after the paint is gone.

This method was most popular during the Dona Softee craze, but is still widely used.

 

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