Mike Hernandez, "Illumination," gouache on illustration board, 8 x 10 in.

Los Angeles artist Mike Hernandez switched from rounds to flats and found that a change in his brush shape meant interesting brushwork and developments in his paintings.

The following is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who will be joining us on the faculty of Watercolor Live, a virtual art conference taking place January 26-28, 2023, with a Beginner’s Day on January 25.

“I went from a round sable tip to a half-inch flat sable blend watercolor/acrylic brush,” says the artist. “I like the graphic simplicity and textures you can get with it.”

Brushwork in art - gouache
Mike Hernandez, “Blue Giants in the Shadows,” gouache on Bristol pad, 5 x 8 in.

The result is a look that suggests tiles of color. “I’m right in the middle of trying this out so there will be more realization to come, but so far I’m really enjoying the results,” says Hernandez. “I’m also experimenting with color textures by loading the flat brush with more unmixed colors so that I can drag more texture and mix right onto the paper. The flat brush makes this more possible – at least for me. I suppose the rounds can do this too, but I don’t like mixing too much texture with too many paintbrush strokes together. I can have lots of color texture while maintaining simple graphic shapes with the flat brush. It keeps the chaos balanced.”

Mike Hernandez, “Griffith Park,” 2014, gouache on watercolor block, 6 x 6 in. This piece illustrates how his brush strokes in gouache allow the underpainting to show through “like a tapestry,” according to the artist.

Hernandez has been experimenting with the brush and the technique in gouache, a medium in which he is particularly adept, and one that fits his lifestyle — he often paints on his lunch hour. But he looks forward to trying this with oil paints. “I like the freshness of gouache — that is to say that it works best when applied like a sketch. Every brush stroke is laid down and not overworked … allowing the underpainted wash to show through like a tapestry.”

Terry Stanley, an artist and a brush expert with Jack Richeson & Co., says Hernandez’s approach makes a lot of sense. “A flat brush allows the artist to create strokes with clean edges and corners,” she says. “Laying the colors next to one another as opposed to blended together allows the viewer’s eyes to do the ‘mixing’ and lends visual excitement to artwork.”

Additional Paintings with Notable Brushwork:

Mike Hernandez, "Old Man Barn," gouache on illustration board, 8 x 10 in.
Mike Hernandez, “Old Man Barn,” gouache on illustration board, 8 x 10 in.
Mike Hernandez, "Nocturnal Sublime," gouache on illustration board, 6 x 7 in.
Mike Hernandez, “Nocturnal Sublime,” gouache on illustration board, 6 x 7 in.
Brushwork in art - Mike Hernandez, "Rocky Scotland Coast," gouache on illustration board, 8 x 10 in.
Mike Hernandez, “Rocky Scotland Coast,” gouache on illustration board, 8 x 10 in.

Learn more from Mike Hernandez with his PaintTube.tv art workshops, “Creating Drama with Light and Color” and “Design Powerful Paintings: Composition, Color, and Perspective.” Preview them here and get your copy today!


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– New video workshops for artists
– Incredible art retreats
– Educational and fun art conventions, and much more.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Mike is one of my favorite painters especially since I took up gouache for a painting trip to Italy where I didn’t want to deal with solvents and wet panels. I have learned so much from his videos anhaving him on a faculty increases chances I will sign up.

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