Contemporary Multi-load Technique

This technique is a form of strokework loosely based on the traditional painting style used by the master craftsmen from the thirteenth to eighteenth centuries in Europe, where it was primarily used to decorate furniture.

Multi-loading, simply put, means that you are stacking colors on top or below one another on a flattened round brush rather than placing them side by side on a flat brush. I generally work with three to five colors in a brush load using my Margot's Miracle Brush. When the stroke is executed properly, you see a subtle blending of all the colors ranging usually from light (say the outer edges of a petal) to dark (the end of the petal towards the calyx). When I complete my painting with the round brush, I then go back evaluate it and sometimes go back in and add additional floated shading for more depth, with an angular shader and maybe some linework with a script liner if I think it is necessary. Sometimes it is not necessary and you have completed the whole painting with just the one brush. What makes my version of multi-load different is I have designed my flowers to be more contemporary and realistic looking, the colors are lighter and softer and with the addition of the floated color creating more depth to the overall painting. I rarely antique my paintings, preferring instead to add layers of glazing which gives them a lighter feel, also. I now use only three strokes, "press, lift and cut", "dribble, catch and pull" and "chisel, pull chisel" in my technique.

The following terms are used throughout my instructions and all my packets and books have a stroke worksheet and terms page in them for reference. This technique uses just your wrist and fingers as opposed to your whole arm. Your forearm rests on the surface or painting table.

Fully load - With the tip of the dampened brush, pull color out onto the palette. Load in the pulled out color by pressing the bristles against the palette forming a "side' and pushing color inside the bristles. Turn the brush over and load the other "side." You should be able to see both wet paint and brush hairs. Can't see the brush hairs? You have too much paint. Brush doesn't look wet - not enough paint.

Press, lift and cut stroke - "Press" the bristles open by exerting gentle pressure on the bristles that are placed at an angle (as opposed to straight across), pull in just slightly from the right or left, "lift" the bristles at the ferrule end of the brush up off the surface with just your fingers and wrist and "cut" in the end of the stroke on the chisel edge that was formed when you pressed the bristles open, all in one continuous motion facing the light side of the brush to the light source. Since I mostly paint flowers with this method I am always cutting in towards the calyx in a flower or in towards the center vein line in a leaf.

Pick up - Go to the opposite side of the paint puddle, touch the light side of the brush down to the paint and then pull and lift the brush up towards yourself leaving a blob of color that extends about halfway down the bristles.

Dribble, catch and pull stroke - Load brush in specified color/colors, "pick up" another color and push the "picked up" color towards the outer edge of the petal, leaving little blobs of paint behind with each push. The brush is held more horizontally to the surface so you can push with the side of the tip of the brush with the "picked up" color. After the "dribble", set the flattened brush down just below the "dribble" (light side facing up) and press open the bristles slightly. Gently shove the bristles backwards into the "dribble", "catch" the dribbled color with just the end of the bristles and "pull" down to the calyx or stem creating a blended stroke. This stroke is seen as the highlight along the edges of petals and leaves.

Pull through - This is just a smear of color that covers the whole side of the brush and is usually done on top of another color. Pull a little color away from the puddle and then "pull through" that color to place just a smear of color on the brush while gently pressing against the palette to slightly blend the two colors.

Chisel edge - When the brush is flattened against the palette creating a "side", the hairs form a flat "chisel edge". This is used to "cut" in thin lines and when ending strokes. The brush is flattened against the palette periodically to keep its edge.

Chisel, pull, chisel stroke - Create the "chisel edge" while loading, begin on the chisel edge, pull across on the flattened side of the brush and end up back on the chisel edge.

I call this method of painting "controlled freedom." After you learn how to control the brush and learn the flower construction, you have the freedom to paint them anywhere, on anything, anytime you choose. All my patterns are just guides. I rarely paint the flowers exactly the same way twice myself, so don't expect that all yours will be the same! Practice painting the flowers until you only need a general outline and you will find yourself developing your own style of multi-load. Great! That's my goal for you!