Thursday, February 18

Which Paint Brush Do I Use for _______?

Today’s Image
All My Paint Brushes

OK, there’s the art school and the textbook way, and then there is the other way (or the way I do it).

I’m speaking of which paint brushes to use.

If you read enough art books or online sites about painting, and painting supplies, you’re bound to have noticed that many ‘authorities’ tell you which paint brush you must use for which application. I guess the information is supposed to be taken as a suggestion, but the way it reads, you’d think there is only one way—their way.

I hate to disappoint, but in art, there is never just one way.

You would think there must be a whole scientific research community who studies nothing but paint brushes and their technical specifications and applications.

First, it’s how the size of brushes are categorized—in numerical order from no. 1 up to…I’m-not sure-how-high-it-goes. (My largest brush is a no. 16, and the bristles are about an inch wide.) The numbering system is the easy part. At least there is a progressive order to the sizes that even a child can understand.

It’s the classification of the type of brushes that’s confusing, or maybe it’s only confusing to me. Whatever.

There’s the round. There’s the flat. There’s the filbert (which always reminds me of the nut).

Here’s my understanding of brush usage: you use the round for almost everything except for when you need to make an edge, and then you use the flat until, of course, you need to make a curve, and then it’s the filbert. What?

At least the names of the following paint brushes give you a clue as to what you could/should be doing with them, and that helps me out a lot: the spotter, the detail, the shader, the angular shader, the wash, the glaze-wash, the stipple, the liner, the hockey. I could go on.

One of my favorites is the scrubber. This little work-horse of a brush is the one I use to ‘edit’ my painting as I’m nearing completion. That’s a nice way of saying you use it to cover up all your mistakes. Scrub them out.

If you aren't confused by any of this yet, wait, there’s more. Brushes can also be classified by the type of bristle.

It’s either natural or synthetic. If it’s synthetic, it comes in white or brown, and the only reason for this that I can tell is that you are able to see if your brushes are really clean.

If it’s natural, then it can be goat-, camel-, or horse-hair. My favorite is the sable. Really—sable-- as in mink?

Of course, all of the above come in different types to be used for oil, acrylic, and/or watercolor. It’s an art supplier’s dream scene—a brush for every occasion.

And don’t forget foam brushes either, about which I previously blogged.

Please. Just do what I do. Try out a few and see which one(s) you like the best. You’ll use these most of the time, and all those other ones you bought will just stand there like mine as shown in Today’s Image. Of course, on that rare occasion you’ll be glad you have that angular-shader/glaze-washer.


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