A recently posted video on YouTube posted by me briefly covered a proper way a brush should be held when painting. It can be found here: How to paint a portrait in oil
What we contemporary realists strive for is to convey a subject matter true to live with as little strokes as possible. Give an illusion of effortlessness, even though a great deal of calculation goes into it. Greatest thing that separates an amateur and a professional is in the way they see. A beginner will view a scene linearly while a pro will see it in shapes. That is why when starting a painting, I will always grab my largest brush first to block in large shapes and then work my way down.
The key at all times is to be mindful of color values. Let me illustrate through two examples…..
Here we have a relatively controlled small study. It appears lifelike because I paid attention to color values at all times. However if you examine the second image of the close up you can see that this whole painting is rather abstract as a lot of it was done with a palette knife.
This is a more completed traditional portrait that shows much more control. Even though I started out much the same way as in the previous example I carried this painting further refining it with smaller brushes.
Remember, don’t be hung on with the details; focus instead getting the right value and color and then from there add detail as needed. Happy Painting!!!