Who ever said the paintbrush was the undisputed master of painting? The 1950s saw the emergence of Abstract Expressionism in the US and Nouveau Réalisme in France—each offering new ways of painting without using a paintbrush. Below are six truly revolutionary, original and paintbrush-free painting techniques, for endless creativity.

#1 Drip painting

 Jackson Pollock photographed by Hans Namuth
Jackson Pollock photographed by Hans Namuth in 1950
Drip painting is a technique invented by Abstract artist Jackson Pollock in 1950 as an act of “action painting”. Drip painting involves letting paint drip from the paintbrush or projecting it directly onto the canvas. The technique brings lots of texture, as well as a certain unpredictability. It was used in Abstract art and also to add depth to figurative pieces.
Adeline Gaffez, Champ de fleurs
Adeline Gaffez, Champ de Fleurs
At KAZoART, artist Adeline Gaffez uses drip painting to create drips in her refreshing and flowing paintings.

#2 Pour painting

Helen Frankenthaler
Helen Frankenthaler in 1969
Also invented by America’s Abstract Expressionist artists, pour painting is similar to drip painting. It involves pouring painting directly onto the canvas. Different colors can even be poured one on top of the other, without mixing. Helen Frankenthaler was the first to use the technique in 1952.
At KAZoART, artist Ronald Hunter uses this technique to pour the paint directly and combine colors.
Ronald Hunter, Life on Aantarctica
Ronald Hunter, Life on Antarctica

#3 Pulling and scraping

These two related techniques are similar to palette knife painting, except instead of a knife, a huge scraper is used to apply and spread the paint across the canvas. This technique was notably used by Willem de Kooning but is especially impressive when employed by painter Gerhard Richter, from the 1980s to the present day. Richter uses his entire body to spread paint across gigantic abstract canvases.

Olivier Messas, Expression...
Olivier Messas, Expression… “Expression Libre 2012”

#4 Body printing

Body printing was popularized by Yves Klein during a performance in Paris in 1960. The technique uses body parts covered in paint to create a print on a support. Klein’s famous artworks, stamped with IKB blue from women’s painted bodies, are entitled Anthropometries.
Yves Klein, Performance
Yves Klein, Performance in 1960 at the Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain, Paris
Some artists use only one part of the body, such as a hand or foot, to create a pattern that is a true imprint of its creator.
Olivier Morel, Main noire + réglisse rouge
Olivier Morel, Main Noire + Réglisse Rouge

#5 Airbrushing

Airbrushing is a painting technique that uses an airbrush, a small paint-gun powered by compressed air. Airbrushing enables the production of very precise, sometimes almost photorealistic artworks. Painter and photographer Chuck Close was one of the first to try his hand at airbrushing in order to recreate photo portraits in paint.

 Chuck Close painting “Mark”
Chuck Close painting “Mark”, 1978, Courtesy of Chuck Close and Pace Gallery, New York

Airbrush painting can be classed in the same category as spray-painting, as the paint is sprayed on the canvas.

At KAZoART, Olivier Carpent also paints striking portraits using spray paint.

Olivier Carpent, Jeune garçon aux tâches de rousseur
Olivier Carpent, Jeune Garçon aux Tâches de Rousseur

#6 Digital painting

With the arrival of digital technology, digital techniques have found their way into the world of art. Some artists therefore choose to paint with neither paint nor a paintbrush, using only their computer, specialist software and a graphics tablet. David Hockney has also moved into this new medium, creating landscapes and portraits using a simple digital tablet and stylus.

David Hockney, Matelot Kevin Druez 2
David Hockney, Matelot Kevin Druez 2, 2009,
© DAVID HOCKNEY
KAZoART artist Thierry Machuron,an illustrator and watercolorist, sometimes uses his graphics tablet to paint, creating very natural depictions of landscapes he has visited.
Thierry Machuron, Baie de cook, Moorea
Thierry Machuron, Baie de Cook, Moorea