Are you looking to do some fine art painting but don't know which brushes you should get?
Artist brushes come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and materials. Choosing the right ones can be difficult, especially if you're a budding artist.
Find the Best Artist Brushes
In this article, we'll help you find the best artist's brushes for painting on canvas. We'll discuss what bristle material, shape, size, and quality you'll need to bring out and magnify your painting skills.
When we talk about brush material, we're generally referring to the material the brush's tip is made of.
Artist's brushes are usually made of either natural or synthetic fibers. Needless to say, each type of material comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Natural brushes are usually made up of naturally-occurring fibers. These include the following:
Natural brushes are characterized by their natural softness and capacity to carry color. This type of brush is excellent for blending, smoothing, and feathering work using oil-based or alkyd paints.
The main disadvantage to natural brushes, though, is that they tend to swell up when used with water-based paints like latex and acrylic. In fact, natural brushes usually get treated with oils and turpentine to repel water as it tends to destroy their bristles.
Another problem is that (cheaper) natural brushes tend to leave some bristles behind on the canvas, especially when the brush hasn't been well cared for.
On the other hand:
Synthetic brushes are made to mimic the qualities of natural brushes and usually consist of man-made materials. This includes:
Synthetic materials are more durable against acrylics and latex and are characterized by their stiffness. Synthetic bristles tend to stay close to each other which allows for smoother, more precise, and streak-free strokes.
Additionally, synthetic brushes are also less susceptible to leaving behind bristles as you paint.
Another advantage to synthetic brushes is their price. Synthetic brushes cost less to manufacture and so are usually a bit cheaper than natural hair brushes.
Synthetic brushes are not without disadvantages.
For one thing, they don't absorb paint as well as natural brushes so you'll need to load up your brush more frequently and apply more layers of paint.
Another disadvantage is their impact on the environment. Since synthetic materials take longer to break down, it's important to choose high-quality synthetic brushes that you can re-use and can last you for years (more on this later).
Artist's brushes come in more shapes than general use brushes. Each shape has its specific use, although, you can still get away with using more "multifunction" brush shapes.
The following are brush shapes we usually use for fine art painting:
As you can glean from their name, flat brushes have bristles arranged in a wide flat shape. This type of brush can make broad or thin brush strokes, depending on how you angle it. The best flat brushes will have a springy stiffer feel that lets you really get paint into the canvas.
You can also get a flat brush with a tapered edge which is great for one-stroke techniques such as blending colors to paint flowers, leaves, and foliage.
A round brush is what most people visualize when they see the word "artist's brush". A round brush is one with the bristles forming a rounded profile coming to a sharp point. This brush lets you paint finer details and lines.
A filbert brush is a narrower flat brush with bristles coming to a more rounded tip. Depending on the angle and pressure used, a filbert brush can produce broad brush strokes, thin lines, or tapering marks. Older filbert brushes shouldn't be thrown away as they are great for dry brushing.
Liner or Rigger Brush
A liner or rigger brush has very long bristles that either come to a pointed or flat tip. This brush is great for producing consistent thin lines and for signing your painting once it's finished.
A fan brush, as its name suggests, has bristles arranged in a thin fan shape. This brush is great for feathering and blending color. The great Bob Ross liked using his fan brush whenever he'd paint trees, bushes, or grass.
A mop brush can hold onto a lot of color and fluid. It's great for washes, especially when using watercolors. Do note that you will need to clean this brush thoroughly after use to prevent it from being damaged.
The size of your brush depends on the size of your canvas. Brushes come in many sizes from finely-tipped number 000 brushes to 4-6 inch wide flat brushes.
One thing to note about brush sizes:
Different brands will produce different-sized brushes despite sharing the same number size. If you plan to use different brush brands, make sure to familiarize yourself with their brush sizes to avoid any costly mistakes.
The best artists combine their skills with quality equipment and materials to produce immortal masterpieces.
As painters, we're only as good as our brushes. Higher-end brushes blend paint better, produce smoother strokes, more consistent lines, last longer, and simply perform better than their cheaper counterparts.
Nova Color offers a wide selection of Jack Richeson high-quality artist paintbrushes especially curated for use with acrylic paints. This line of brushes comes in a variety of shapes and sizes perfect for artists of any skill level. Join the Nova Color Paint affiliate program which helps artists monetize their love of art and top-quality acrylic paint. Browse our FAQ page to find answers to all the questions related to our complete product range.