Your Artist Toolbox: Exploring Conventional Brushes

Artist tools come in many different forms, sizes, and shapes. With such a wide variety from which to choose, it is helpful to learn about the various tools you can use to bring your creative pieces to life.

Conventional Brushes

Conventional Brushes

Conventional tools you’ll want to include in your toolkit are brushes that you can get at any hardware or art supply stores.

While selecting brushes can feel like a daunting task, a quick tour of the kinds of brushes can help you make good selections. Once you narrow down the playing field, you’ll want to test the various types to see which ones you like the best.

The first thing to understand about brushes are the types of bristles.

What Do The Bristle Types Mean?

While every brush might look similar, there are two different types: natural and synthetic. You need to base your selection on the kind of paint you’re going to use.

Natural bristles are made from some type of animal hair, while synthetic brushes are made from polyester, nylon, or a combination of both.

Stiff bristled brushes produce more textural results, while softer brushes allow you to blend more and provide smoother brushstrokes.

Paint Types & Bristle Pairings

Like a fine wine that pairs well with food, you want your bristles to pair well with the types of paint you use. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Watercolors work best with softer brushes made out of synthetic sable or nylon.
  • Oils work best with thicker, natural bristles made out of animal hair like hog or sable.
  • Acrylics work best with softer brushes that are thicker and made out of nylon or synthetic.

The best thing to do is check the packaging to make sure the brush you’re buying is compatible with the type of paint you’re going to use.

Brush Shape & Width Achieve Varying Results

Every brush has a different width and shape. Each attribute affects the type of brush stroke it makes.

The actual width of the stroke varies according to the amount of pressure you apply, the shape of the brush, the angle you hold it, and the mediums you use to create your art.

There are multiple shapes available to you. You can choose a slanted brush for thin lines, while a flat brush can create bold, sweeping lines. Round brushes can help you achieve a variety of results from details and lines to blending.

The best way to determine the shape of the brush you choose is through experimentation. I’ll go deeper into the various brush shapes and the results they can help you achieve in a future blog post.

The Brushes I Like to Use

The brushes I like to work with help me stay loose and flowy. In fact, my favorite large brushes are made of nylon with 2-3 inches bristles. I have found that this type of brush doesn’t show a lot of brush marks in the artwork I create.

I use tiny ones for details and larger ones for big strokes.

What To Do Next

Armed with this new knowledge, let me encourage you to go visit your local hardware or art supply store. While you’re there, spend time exploring the brush options so you can become familiar with the different bristles and sizes.

Upcoming posts will focus on brush shapes and widths, as well as calligraphy brushes, pencils and paint markers. Stay tuned…