Taking the "Overwhelming"
out of choosing:
ARTIST PAINT BRUSHES

Choosing the right brush out of thousands of artist paint brushes can be an overwhelming task. Below I hope to give you some direction in finding the right brush for the right job. Artist paint brushes - Their qualities and purpose.

Your choice of any artist paint brush is going to be determined of course by what you are going to do with your brush. Are you going to paint fine lines or broad sweeping strokes. Are you going to be using a heavy paint such as oil or acrylics or very light thin paints such as watercolors.

Therefore the two primary qualities or artist paint brushes are:

  1. The shape of the brush and
  2. The type of hair the brush is made of.

There are many secondary qualities of brushes to consider also: like comfort while holding the brush, length of the handle, overall quality of the brushes construction and more but for now we will concentrate on the primary qualities.

The Shape of the brush
Listed below are 15 of the most popular brush shapes and their uses.

Click near each brush to bring up a list of all of that type of brush we carry or use the handy Brush by Shape Selection Box to the right.


The type of hair the brush is made of

There are 2 types of hair artist paint brushes are made from:

  1. Natural Hair and
  2. Synthetic Hair

Natural Hair Artist Paint Brushes

The 2 predominant types of natural brush hair are Sable and Bristle.

Sable Brushes - A good quality Sable paint brush should hold it's shape extremely well and have good spring and snap in it's stroke. The brush hair tips should come to very fine points. Sable brushes are often the choice brush for watercolor artists with Kolinsky Sable being the finest quality and Pure Red Sable a close second. Sable brushes are also used in oil and acrylic painting. Artists painting with oils often prefer long handle brushes for working at a greater distance from their painting.


Bristle Brushes - Bristle Paint Brushes made from Hog's Hair Bristle (or Boar's Hair Bristle) are the firmest of the natural hairs. They are more often used by oil and acrylic artists but sometimes find their way into the hands of watercolor artists. Thet have split ends at the tips called "flags" for holding lots of liquid and adding "texture". Good Bristle brushes are tough, long lasting and maintain their shape for a long time. There are many other less common natural hair brushes: Goat, Squirrel, Ox, etc. They vary from extremely soft to extremely stiff and their use is based on these qualities.


Synthetic Hair Artist Paint Brushes
The main synthetic hair used in an artist paint brush is Taklon. It is used in all mediums of painting due to so many varitions possible in the manufacturing process. There are many variations that simulate very well the characteristics of good Sable and Bristle brushes. Although more often used in oil and acrylic painting many watercolorist find Taklon a very good substitute for quality Sable brushes. The choice between White Taklon (also referred to as White Nylon) and Gold Taklon is mostly a personal preference. Characteristics between the two colors are very similar.


Natural and Synthetic Hair Blend Artist Paint Brushes
There are many good brushes on the market that include a blend of natural and synthetic hairs. They combine natural hair?s ablity to carry large loads of paint while the synthetic filaments provide increased durability. Many of these brushes do a good job of maintaining the qualities of natural hair while making the price more affordable. Sometimes a mixture of natural and synthetic hairs will give you just the right balance between softness and spring with the ability to hold more paint.