The Oil Paint Website


Holding an oil paint brush

For background work

For background, no detail work such as scene, sky, distant hills, and water, the brush is placed across the palm of the hand and held firmly by the thumb and first finger. This position allows you a lot of freedom, and makes it easy to work over large areas of painting.

Controlled areas of painting

For more control, hold a brush as your would hold a pencil, and 4-5 inches from the bristles. This is probably most common in painting. Don't hold a brush near the bristles.

Detail work

For detail work, hold the brush exactly as you would hold a pencil. You can hold the brush nearer to the bristles when doing more detail work. This gives more control.

Controlling a brush over wet paint

In order to control your brush over a canvas full of wet paint, you use a mahlstick. A mahl stick is a long stick with a pad at one end, fastened with a piece of rag. The length of the mahl stick depends on how big of a painting you are working on. The idea is to rest your hand on the mahl stick while painting. So, the larger the painting you are working on, the longer the mahl stick should be. This will protect your painting and help you have more control.