This BobBlast is all about basic things to know about artist brushes. Think of an artist brush as a tool to spread, brush, dab, push or swirl colorful paint around on your painting surface!
There are 15 different shapes, as well as a variety of (at least) 12 different brush hairs. Some are natural and the others are synthetic, and blends of both. Whew!
So now you have fifteen shapes with twelve different hairs. Now you are probably asking... How do I choose the right brush for the right job, right? Here are a few thoughts about that important question.
When asked, "What size brush did you use?" That's like asking a photographer what camera did they use. We all know it is not the camera and it's not the brush. It's YOU the artist... and what you do with it.
Meanwhile, back to the quick lesson on brushes! Natural hair brushes are mostly used with watercolor paints. Natural hair bristles have hollow follicles - they hold a lot of water and pigment.
Oil painters lean towards stiffer hair brushes - to push the paint around. I like to use short, choppy strokes when using oil paint. I always say, get in - get out!
Acrylic painters use everything for various personal reasons. Plus, the brushes are generally less expensive than natural hair watercolor brushes. Each brush design and brush hair type have unique functions. You will most likely try them all and then settle down to 3 or 4 of your favorite brushes. It's a personal thing and it's not up to the brush to do all the work!
For me, painting with alternate tools - paper towels, sticks and even my fingers - opens up a looser direction in my work. Even though I've been classically trained, I paint with a freer technique when NOT using a standard brush.
One more thing I should mention - I have found that brush "number" sizes are not consistent throughout the industry. So, don't get confused thinking that one manufacturer's size #8 is the same size as another's. They're not! I prefer going to an actual art store and hold the brushes. I check the weight, the quality and what I need it for. (Do I really NEED another brush?) I suggest, if you're not sure what you need, get to your art store and play with all the brushes!
In closing our brief, basic brush lesson... Clean your brushes with commercial brush soap. I use Murphy's Oil Soap (unconcentrated) to restore dried-out bristles and accumulated paint. Also recommended is SavvySoap by Marvelous Marianne and CitraSolv!
Buying a brush is not like buying a car... get several at a time!