Brushes / Knives

The most important tool in the artist’s painting studio is no doubt the art brush he or she uses to create their artwork. Quality brands include Princeton, Blick, Simmons, Winsor & Newton. Only when you have chosen the appropriate brush for your project will you achieve the optimal results you seek. If you are looking for artist paint brush sets, there are many options available by the same quality brands listed below.  Some of the most popular art brushes include bristle brushes, acrylic and oil brushes and watercolor brushes, but browse the entire selection below to find the style you need to create your artwork.

 In order to choose the best art brush for your needs, you should first understand artist brushes. There are three main brush parts – the handle, ferrule, and tuft, of which the most important is the tuft. The handle is of course self-explanatory and negates definition. The ferrule is the piece that joins the handle to the tuft (the business end of the brush) and is usually metal but can be wooden.

Artist brush handles can be of varying lengths from as short as 6” to as long as 14”, depending on the brush’s intended purpose. A good quality brush should have a handle that is made of enameled hardwood with a double crimped ferrule made of nickel-plated metal. The tuft should be glued into the ferrule with quality glue. The type of brush needed will be based also on the intended medium – oil, acrylic, water color, or other use.

Most artists’ brushes when first purchased are extremely stiff due to sizing chemicals that are applied to the brush to protect it until it is sold. This sizing is easily removed with soap and water before using. It is important to remember that no matter what type of brush you use, never leave your brushes soaking in water. Always follow the brush maker’s instructions for cleaning in order to extend brush life.

Artist brushes can be made of various natural hairs or be synthetic. Natural brushes are made of sable, squirrel, sabeline (dyed light ox hair), camel hair (which is not really derived from camels, but from a French man named camel who coined the term; camel hair brushes are usually pony, goat, ox, or squirrel), or hog bristles.

Squirrel hair, camel hair or sabeline artists’ brushes are usually used with water color or inks, while hog bristle artist brushes are better suited for heavy-bodied paints and oils. Synthetics work well withacrylic or watercolors.

As a general rule, the artist paint brush applications are based on the shape of the brush as follows:

  • Round - underpainting and washes Pointed round – detail and spotting
  • Flat - light to medium body paint and loose style
  • Bright - medium to heavy bodied paints in short strokes
  • Filbert - blending, double dipping, floral work
  • Angular blending - edge retention
  • Fan - soft blending for foliage
  • Mop - large blends, light bodied paint, watercolor, ink
  • Extender - low viscosity paint
  • Fitch - lettering and large loads of medium body paint
  • Sumi - very soft fiber for ink and water coloring, great for lettering