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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > May 19 > The way of the brush

The way of the brush

In the first of her new three-part series, Hazel Soan explains that dexterity with the brush can be learnt, but that it takes discipline and concentration

Hazel Soan has studios in London and Cape Town; she travels widely for her painting. Hazel is the author of 14 painting books, has recorded several DVDs and her work is in private and public collections, including the National Portrait Gallery and a number of embassies. www.allsoanup.com

I am right-handed, so when I fractured my right wrist in 2010 I was devastated – I thought that I would not be able to paint for many weeks. Yet in a very short time I discovered that I could paint well enough with my left hand to fulfil my commissions, and that painting in watercolour required such a light touch that, even after a few weeks, with my right wrist in a brace, I could paint with a straightened right arm. But there was one huge difference, not in technical ability, nor in the appearance of the paintings, but in what I call the ‘bliss factor’. Painting with my left hand and with a braced right wrist did not enable me to enter the zone of bliss that I frequently enjoy when I am deep in concentration in a watercolour painting. I pondered why, and concluded that the brush had, over many years of painting, become an extension of my right hand, which in turn created a seamless conduit for the flow of choices and decisions made with my mind, heart, gut, spirit and soul; the wrist fracture had disrupted this – normally instinctive – flow. It took several months of rehabilitative exercises to get back the full movement in my wrist, and only then did I regain the bliss factor

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About The Artist

Welcome to the May issue of The Artist, packed with inspirational, practical features designed to help all artists develop their drawing and painting techniques in all media. From learning how to control your watercolour brushwork with Hazel Soan, choose the right medium for your style of oil painting, create the illusion of depth in a coastal scene in acrylics, to making simple but dramatic landscapes without a printing press, there's something for everyone, whatever your skill level or preferred medium. Discover how drawing cartoons can help you to loosen up in your painting with Shirley Trevena and enjoy the benefits of painting en plein air with tips and advice from Geoff Hunt, Peter Graham and Paul Gadenne. Try spray-paint techniques to spice up your mixed-media compositions, add figures to give life to your watercolour paintings with Amanda Hyatt and paint a seasonal bluebell wood in three easy steps with Paul Talbot-Greaves. There's also a wealth of information about competitions to enter, exhibitions to see, special offers, art world news, courses and holidays and much more to enjoy in this month's issue. Plus, don't forget to enter your best work to our TALPOpen competition for the chance to see your work exhibited, published in the magazine, and win one of the fantastic prizes worth over £17,000!