Choosing Your Paint Brushes

Create your Signature Style

One of the most distinguishable and memorable things that sets an artist apart from another is the quality of their brush strokes. An artists brush strokes are incredibly intimate and personal. They can be bold, expressive, smooth or textured. They can be seen as the artists fingerprint or signature which allows collectors to recognise the creator of a piece just through their use of consistent brushwork. Artists like Vincent van Gogh were particularly noted for the passion that their brush strokes held and the way that the paint had been applied on the canvas was a representation of the uniqueness of the artist. The painting overall is charged with the energy of its maker and this is purely because of the carefully considered placement of pigment. 

With practice, artists become familiar with the brushes that they prefer to use the most and when these tools are used properly, the real magic starts to happen. This is an opportunity for artists to boldly leave their mark on the world and create pieces that are distinguishable and have personality. With so many brushes on the market, artists can experiment and find which shapes and sizes are most suitable.  As you grow in your art, your choice of brush will become more instinctual and customised. It is also worthwhile to consider your painting style, what you like to paint, what colours and textures you are drawn to and the marks that move you the most. When you paint, paint openly and expressively. Let your brush strokes shine through instead of being tempted to overblend or overwork areas of your painting. Work with confidence as you lay down your paint, imagine what different colours and strokes would look best in particular areas. 

Types of Brushes for Artists

Round Brush: These are pointy brushes with long hair and can be used for fine details and outlining. You can also create thin to thick lines easily and these brushes can be used for calligraphy.

Flat Brush: Flat brushes are great for broad, sweeping strokes for layering in large areas. These brushes can be used to make a number of different strokes but are mainly used to fill in large areas.

Flat Shader Brush: This brush is great for blending and creating large even strokes. It holds a lot of colour and can be used to achieve sharp, crisp edges.

Bright Brush: This brush is similar to the flat brush but has shorter, stiffer hairs. This brush provides better control than the flat brush for details and creates short, sharp paint strokes.

Filbert Brush: Filbert brushes have a rounded tip and can be used for edges and tight areas. This brush gives a rounded look to a flat stroke with softer edges.

Angular Shader Brush: This is a versatile brush used to paint both sharp edges as well as soft shaded areas. 

Liner Brush: Long hairs create thick to thin lines for details like tree branches, vines and foliage. 

Fan Brush: A wide brush that is great for blending and softening the edges of other strokes. It is great for adding subtle texture and can be used for dry brushing to create hair, trees, grass and shrubbery.

Script Brush: Similar to the liner brush but with longer hairs.

Wash/Glaze Brush: For broad strokes and blending, this large soft brush allows you to cover large areas of your canvas.

The brushes that you choose are very important as they can mean the difference between creating a mediocre painting and a potential masterpiece. The key is to practice as much as you can and learn what types of artists’ brushes there are. The more you experiment with paint and how to lay down paint with different brushes, you can become more expressive with your brushwork and gain more confidence in yourself as an artist. My take-away tips for achieving the best brush strokes is to:

1. Put your brush strokes down with confidence

2. Create variety by not putting down the same stroke or colour next to the previous brush stroke. This will also help your colours to remain vibrant and not muddy and smoothed out.

3. Fix mistakes after the paint has dried. Don't try and fix the mistake by blending colours in and reworking the same area over and over again. This causes the colours to become muddy and texture gets lost in the process.

4. Experiment with a variety of brushes. Try different sizes, thicknesses and see how they reflect on the canvas.

5. Watch tutorial videos on how to use different brushes and how to apply paint on the canvas with these brushes to get the best results. 



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