Drawing Restraint

These brushes are my personal version of Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraint. It was a college professor, Carl Blair, who was the first person I’d ever seen use them. As it turns out Wolf Kahn uses them as well.

I use them for two reasons. First of all, they are cheap. I tend to go through brushes quickly and wearing out a $1 brush is easier to stomach than wearing out a $10 brush.

The larger, more significant, reason is that they put restraints on my tendency to let my paintings get too precious, too bogged down in the details. It is a bit of self-awareness that I came too earlier on, thanks mostly to Blair. Unconstrained I will work a painting to death, I will let myself get closer and closer, hold the brush tighter and tighter, until there is simply no life in the thing any more.

By choosing brushes too large for the task I place a healthy restraint on myself. The tediousness that kills both my paintings and my enjoyment of painting just isn’t possible with these brushes.