A Bunch O’ Brushes

By: Courtney McCreary

This week I thought I’d share some of my favorite paint brushes to use, as well as some tips on buying and maintining brushes in general. If you’re new to painting or just want to try out some new tools, hopefully this post gives you a few ideas!

Hog Bristle Brush


Hog Bristle brushes are stiff, made from coarse hog hair. These brushes are used for oil and acrylic painting, providing the painter with loose lines. They’re great for gesture paintings, or blocking in a composition. The thickness of the bristles makes for strong, sturdy lines, but they aren’t the best choice for applying fine details.

Filbert Brush


Filbert brushes, also used in oil and acrylic painting, are wonderful brushes for blending and gradients. They’re made from soft fibers (synthetic or natural, depends where you buy them) so they apply smooth strokes and can be used for details too. I’ve found these brushes extremely helpful when painting leaves and plants in landscape paintings.

Flat Brush


Flat brushes are shaped like a square and are often used in watercolor painting, but they are also helpful with acrylics. Because of their shape, you can utilize them to make several different kinds of marks: broad, thin, long, short. These brushes are very absorbant, so they can hold a lot of paint, which makes them useful for more aqueous paints.

Detail Brushes


Detail brushes come in a variety of shapes for all your fine tuning needs. It’s good to have a bunch of these on hand so you can rotate through them as you use them. Because the bristles are so thin, they’re more prone to wear and tear. So it’s actually better to buy a cheap pack of ten brushes from somewhere like Wal Mart than spend $5 to $10 dollars on ONE detail brush. (Unless there’s one that you REALLY like, then by all means go for it!)

Lastly here are some general tips to keep your painbrushes in their best shape!

  • Always clean your brushes after using them!
    • Rinse acrylic and watercolor brushes in water
    • Oil brushes use Turpenoid/turpentine/etc.
    • Brush cleaners/soaps are also available at art supply stores
  • Never wash brushes with hot water.
  • Store your brushes with the bristle side up in a separate container (coffee cans or mason jars are great).
  • Don’t mix your brushes with different types of paint/mediums.
    • Use your oil brushes only for oil paint, watercolor brushes only for watercolor, etc.
  • If individual bristles are starting to stick out, hair conditioner actually helps smooth them back into shape.

Have a great week!


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