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

kwhiteford2015_brushes-filbert

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).

Liner/Script/Rigger

kwhiteford2015_brushes-rigger

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!

Hog Hair

kwhiteford2015_brushes-hoghair

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?

Yes…no…maybe.

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! 😀


Kat

Hi, I’m Kat! An Australian artist who loves painting fantasy characters and illustrations.

10 Comments

Sabiscuit · October 12, 2015 at 4:16 pm

It’s for the invitation to comment. Are use brushes which I absolutely adore. Horse hair brushes are very nice but the ones I’ve bought tend to shed a lot I’m not sure why. I use a very large one especially if I’m adding a lot of water to acrylics. My favourite brand is Amsterdam and sometimes my art supplier gives them to me as gifts. I don’t use them all at once because they are ridiculously expensive. I have been known to break things.

    Kat · October 19, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    (Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, WordPress hid your comment from me and I only just found it!)

    You know you have a great art supplier when they give you gifts like that! 😀

      Sabiscuit · October 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Thank you for responding, Kat. That first, “It’s” was meant to be a thank you and the “are” was to be an “I” but autocorrect ate it. Could you edit that for me? (This new iOS update is driving me bonkers). My hog bristles will be working on Monday evening. Enjoy your upcoming painting projects, too. x

annemarieart · October 12, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Thanks for sharing what brushes you use! I use whatever brushes I can find in the shops – because I paint such small paintings I need very small brushes & I do find many of them get quite fluffy and not so fine pointed after only a few paintings. (I use acrylics). I found some lovely brushes at Spotlight recently which were more on the expensive side called “Princeton Art & Brush Co”, I’m currently using the 5/0 one. I like that their handles aren’t painted like some of the cheaper paint brushes, as the paint tends to crack and peel off when I leave them sitting in my water jar too long. I should probably look after them a bit better 🙂

    Kat · October 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I’m really glad you enjoyed it! 😀 I honestly didn’t know if anyone would be interested in a blog post like this but I thought I’d just throw it out there anyway. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

    Oooh, Spotlight! 😀 Another place I go to buy one thing and come out with ten, lol. They’re actually pretty good with paintbrushes, I found a really nice filbert there by Royal & Langnickel and it’s been wonderful. It doesn’t have a painted handle either which is another bonus. I’ve had plenty of cheaper brushes crack and peel, and some of them weren’t left in the water long.

artsbysofie · October 12, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Amazing insight you’ve written here. I never really tried a variety of brushes, but I certainly should. I did recently stepped off the very cheapest hog hair paintbrushes because they kept leaving hair in my paint (and not just small amounts, I spend more time removing hair then painting). I use synthetic now and I never love the feel of a paint stroke that much! I would love to own a liner brush! I’m definitely going to look for those.

    Kat · October 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you Sofie! 😀 It’s never good when you spend more time picking out brush hairs than painting (I know that feeling), but we never know what a brush will be like until we try it. 🙂

    I hope you can find a liner brush! They seem to be called different things around the world (liner, rigger or script), but hopefully you’ll find them. 😀

      artsbysofie · October 13, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      That is very true! I hope I’ll find time soon to go to the art supply store. They must have them there! 🙂

Adrienn Ecsedi (@adriennecsedi) · October 14, 2015 at 1:56 am

I like to use flat brushes and I also bought hog hair brushes for texture.

The flat brushes I have I think are not well known, these are the only ones they have in the art shop I visit. I think I saw some different and more expensive ones in bigger art stores. I still like mines, they have a nice blue color, and that in itself made them sold for me. 😀

I have a Winsor & Newton flat and a round brush too. I left one of them in the water for half an hour and the head part fell off. 😀 Lesson learned. Some glue helped me fixing it.

    Kat · October 16, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Not ashamed to admit I’ve bought more than one paint brush purely based on it’s colour. 😉

    I’m glad you’ve found brushes that work for you though! 😀

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