I often wonder about the brushes other artists use for their work so I thought I’d talk about the ones I use and more importantly, why. 🙂
I’ve used some very expensive brushes and found they were no better than ridiculously cheap ones – for the way that I work at least. So don’t ever turn your nose up at a cheap brush, it might be just what you need for a certain effect!
Filberts are my absolute favorite brush. They’re versatile and I absolutely love them! The brand I prefer to use is Mont Marte – definitely one of the cheaper brands here in Australia and very easy to find. Their most expensive brushes cost around $12-$13, which is very reasonable.
They work incredibly well with my style of painting and I haven’t had any problems with them losing their shape or bristles falling out. And after a lot of painting and treating them pretty rough, they’re still soft and as good as new.
Filberts are like flat brushes but with rounded rather than sharp corners, perfect for blending and covering large areas without leaving sharp lines everywhere (like flats can).
When I’m adding small or fine details to a painting, I generally use the long rigger or liner brushes by Neef.
They’re an Australian company and I’ve been very happy with their quality and again, no problems with brushes losing shape or bristles falling out.
In my opinion, it’s worth paying a bit more for brushes with a long or fine point. The cheaper ones don’t always keep their shape beyond the first use and that’s kind of important since that’s the reason for buying them in the first place!
If I’m after texture for fur or rocks, I really like the stiff and rough hog hair brushes. Even though they’re generally used for oils, they can and do work very well with acrylics and create some unexpected (but great) effects! I don’t have a brand listed for them because my brushes don’t actually have one printed on them. In this instance, I don’t think you’ll go wrong with any brand. At least, I never have.
And don’t forget about your old, ragged, heavily used paint brushes! They can create some wonderful effects, especially if they’re damaged. Don’t just throw them away when they lose their shape or the bristles stick out in weird ways!
Since I’m so happy with my current brushes, does that mean I’ll never try another brand?
No! I’m always looking at brushes and eager to try new things with my work. As much as I love my current brushes I’m fully aware there could be something better out there. Besides, I rarely walk past the brush section in an art shop without having a closer look (…in artist language that means buy something). 😉
I recommend trying lots of brands (from super cheap to as expensive as you can handle) in both natural and synthetic (depending on your medium – watercolour/ink/acrylic/oil), and as many shapes, sizes and lengths as you can.
What works for me may not work for you – I can only say that I’ve found my favourite brushes through trial and error and you will too. 🙂
Are expensive paint brushes an absolute must for serious artists?
I can only speak from my own experience here and in my opinion there can never be a definitive yes or no answer to this question. It will completely depend on how and what you paint.
The brushes you choose will be something that only you can decide because you know what works, and what doesn’t, for you and your art. And if you don’t know yet, the only way to find out is by trying some brushes out.
So jump in, get painting and discover your own favourite brushes! 😀