Curved Brush Strokes

Magic lives in curves, not angles. Mason Cooley


The combination of blue and white in art and decoration is classic and timeless. We continue to use a limited palette of colour for today's painting mini project inspired by ancient oriental ceramics.

Chinoiserie from 'chinois', the French for Chinese, was a style inspired by art and design from China, Japan and other Asian countries in the 18th century. At its height in Britain from 1750 to 1765, this fanciful style relied more on the designer's and craftsman's imagination than on accurately portraying oriental motifs and ornament. This mini project focusses on blue and white porcelain from this era, as well as ceramics from the Ming dynasty.


The intricate painted flower and plant themed decorations found on Chinoiserie blue porcelain and Ming dynasty ceramics offers so much to be inspired by. The shapes we make today, painted in blues, will be central to making collective floral designs in Module Two's collage projects. In order to create a collection of curved forms suitable for this module's collage projects, a dagger brush and a pointed brush will be used to create a selection of shapes in shades of indigo and Ultramarine blue.


The basic idea to these shapes is to create 'comma' and hooked shapes that become more elaborated and elongated. Shapes evolve to include petal, spiral and forked forms. A collection of simple duplicated and mirror shapes are painted with the basic action of tilting the brush and using both the tip and the side of the dagger brush - applying more or less paint affects the mark. The basic shapes are done in an indigo colour mix without paint medium added. There is a technique included with shapes painted with water only, high flow ultra marine blue is added with the tip of a brush to create a gradient watercolour effect in the shape.

Added to this project is a simple printing exercise using a carrot. The root vegetable's shape is ideal to make uniform circular shapes. By cutting into the carrot, a negative cross shape is carved and used for printing uniform cross shapes. High Flow ink is used for the printing - no medium added, just water. The paint consistency is the same as the paint used for the curved shapes, with drops of water added to make sure it does not become sticky.

Have a look at the video for instructions to create the patterns.

Pointers for this project:

  • A deep indigo is mixed for the bulk of the shapes, ratio 10 drops Ultramarine, 5 drops Pthalo blue and 1 drop Carbon Black High Flow paint.

  • Add drops of water to make the paint a bit diluted, but not too runny. Use paint sparingly, you can always mix more knowing the basic ratio.

  • Pay attention to the pressure on the paintbrushes to get the desired effect from hairline thin lines to big and heavy strokes.

  • The dark blue is painted first, followed by ultramarine blue lines echoing the first marks on the deli paper, this will add to the variety of shapes used for collaging later.

  • No Matte medium is used during the painting of the blue shapes.

  • However, a very thin diluted Matte medium layer is used to cover the whole area of the sheets, once the deli sheets are finished and completely dry. This helps to create uniform sheets. Do take care not to use too much medium that will create thicker papers - keep them thin.

  • Loosen up but keep control of the brush and let the shape of the dagger and round brush do the work for you. It is a good idea to paint some basic shapes in your sketchbook to practice and use as reference.

These brush marks will be combined to create collages with interesting flowers, leaves and patterns.


Creating a collection of curved shapes in shades of blue is important to make interesting collages based on Chinosierie and Chinese blue porcelain The painted shapes will offer a good choice for flower and plant components for this Module's collage projects.

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour