This article is the final installment of a three part discussion on artist paint brushes. As a recap, in part one brush anatomy and bristle types were discussed. In part two we looked at brush shapes and sizes. In part three the various brush manufacturers and brush care will be covered.
An artist’s single most important tool in oil painting is the paintbrush. It is the main piece of equipment used to apply paint to canvas. Art brushes come in a wide variety of types, sizes and shapes. Knowing all you can about the different types of brushes available and how they are used, will allow you to choose the right one for each stage of your canvas painting.
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Oil painting brushes are made by a variety of manufacturers from around the world. A few of the more popular brands are da Vinci, Winsor & Newton, Silver Brush Limited, Raphael Paris Classic and the Robert Simmons line of brushes. These brands are the best known and most used high quality brand name of brushes. They will always be known for the quality of the brush as well as their longevity and ease of use. Some artists are faithful to just one or two particular brands and will not use anything else. Whereas, other artists like to have an assortment of different brands available depending on their needs at the time. The only way to know which brand you will like best is by using the brushes yourself. Some name brands will be more expensive than others, however, don’t let that be what you base your final purchasing decision on. With proper care the more expensive brushes will out last the lesser made and priced brands.
Caring for Your Paintbrushes
It makes no sense to invest in quality art brushes if you are not going to take proper care of them. All art brushes require a thorough cleaning at the end of each painting session. Let me repeat, never store your brush until it is completely cleaned. Never leave your brush standing head down in a solvent for any length of time. This can cause the brush to lose its shape. After cleaning, a brush should be hung head-down or laid flat to dry. This allows moisture to drain out of the ferrule and hairs. If you allow your brush to dry standing up, the cleaner and paint residue can drain towards the ferrule, which can weaken the glue that holds the hairs to the handle. In addition it can also cause a buildup of paint residue in the ferrule. In time, this will also cause the brush to become misshaped. When a brush looses its shape, it is then worthless. As a final step in caring for your paintbrushes, you will need to remove the solvent from the head by using a mild “degreaser”, like dish soap, and warm water. This helps to keep the hairs soft and undamaged.
One final word – always keep in mind that your art brushes are expensive, if you take good care of them they will last a long, long time.