Thursday, 8 September 2016

Help in choosing the right Artist Brushes for Painting

A selection of artist brushes made by Winsor & Newton
There are a huge range of artist brushes available from the George Weil website and showroom. When choosing a brush you need to consider the type of paint you will be using, plus the amount of 'spring' required. The spring of the hairs/bristles is determined by how quickly and easily they can revert to their original shape.

Watercolour Paints

Watercolour paints are made from finely ground pigments and water soluble binders such as synthetic glycol or natural gum arabic. They are available in block form as pans, or as a paste in tubes.  The water soluble binders mean they will wash out of artist brushes quite easily with soap and water.

Acrylic Paints

Whilst acrylic paints are also water soluble, their acrylic binder dries very quickly and will cause the brush hairs to stick together. The speed of drying plus the opacity and brightness of the colours make acrylic paints popular as an alternative to watercolours and oil paints. It is important not to allow acrylics to dry on the brush hair or the ferrule as they are very difficult to clean off. It helps to remove excess paint on a paper towel before washing with soap and thoroughly rinsing in water.

Oil Paints

The particles of pigment in oil paints are suspended in a drying oil such as linseed. Although the paints are relatively slow to dry, they are not water soluble and do need a solvent such as white spirit or turpentine to both thin the paint and to clean brushes after use. Oil paint will spoil the brush hairs if not cleaned before the paint dries. The best method is to remove excess paint on a paper towel and use a solvent-based cleaner or Zest It solvent-free cleaner. After the brush has been cleaned it is a good idea to rinse it in soap and water to remove any solvent that has remained in the ferrule so that it does not dissolve any adhesive used to glue in the bristles.

Drying and Storing Artist Brushes

Run the brush over a sheet of paper towel to remove excess moisture and reshape the brush hairs or bristles while they are still damp. You may notice some staining from the pigment but this will not effect the performance of the brush. Brushes should be laid flat until they have dried thoroughly. With all artist brushes, lay the brush flat to dry and either store in a brush roll or in a jar, handles down and heads-up.

Brushes suitable for painting in Watercolours

Artist brushes for watercolours need to be able to take a good load of colour and natural hairs such as goat, squirrel and sable perform better than most synthetic hairs.
  • Goat Hair - this tapering hair is boiled to straighten it. The scale-like surface of the hair allows high absorbency of water based media and the hairs are often used in Oriental brush making for Chinese painting, silk painting, calligraphy and wash techniques. The hairs have no spring (Hake, Graduate & own brand Chinese brushes)
  • Sable - hair (or fur) from carnivorous mammals of Mustelidae family which include weasel and mink. The hair is narrow at the root, widens in the middle and then tapers off to a fine point at the end. It is the wide midlength of the hair that gives it its excellent spring (Daler Rowney Diana Kolinsky, Winsor & Newton Kolinsky, P34B Pure Sable,
  • Sable/Synthetic Blend - synthetic hairs (made from nylon filaments) have been designed to simulate natural hairs and have a good spring but poor absorbency. These blends bring together the absorbency of natural hair and the spring of synthetic hairs (Sapphire, some Sceptre Gold II)
  • Squirrel Hair - a fine absorbent hair with a pointed tip making the brush hairs come to a fine point when wetted. The hairs have little spring (Isabey Squirrel Mop & Sky Wash brushes, Terry Harrison Dagger & Sword)
  • Some Synthetic - synthetic hairs (made from nylon filaments) have been designed to simulate natural hairs and have a good spring but poor absorbency. (Prolene Sword Liners, Gold Taper, Dalon, Graduate & Mini Majestic)

Brushes suitable for painting in Acrylics

Artist brushes for acrylic paints need to be hard wearing with a 'good spring'.
  • Artisan Brushes (perform like hog hair for water-mixable oils or acrylics)
  • Azanta Black Brushes (hog hair bristles for oils, alkyds or acrylics)
  • Colour Shapers Hard Grey (silicone tips for acrylics & modelling mediums)
  • Colour Shapers Soft White (silicone tips for acrylics & modelling mediums)
  • Cryla Brushes (synthetic hair for acrylics)
  • Dalon Brushes (imitation sable for watercolours & acrylics)
  • Graduate Brushes (economic synthetic brushes ideal for beginners)
  • Monarch Brushes (synthetic mongoose hair for acrylics, water-mixable oils & oils)
  • Raphael Mixacryl Brushes (hog bristle blended with synthetic hair for acrylics)
  • Royal & Langnickel Brushes (tiny brushes for detail work)
  • Sceptre Gold II Brushes (available in a mix of hair types including synthetic & sable)
  • Series 101 Sable Brushes (long handled, fine brushes made from Kolinsky sable hair)
  • Terry Harrison Brushes (natural hair for watercolours, acrylics & oils)
  • Palette Knives (for full bodied acrylics & oils)

Brushes suitable for painting in Oils

Artist brushes for oil paints need to be hard wearing with a 'good spring'. Bristles are made from boiled hog, boar or pig hair. The hairs are very coarse and stiff, have a natural taper and split ends. These artist brushes are hard wearing and ideal for use with solvent based paints.
  • Artisan Brushes (water-mixable oils or acrylics)
  • Artists Hog Brushes (Chunking hog bristles for oils)
  • Azanta Black Brushes (hog hair bristles for oils, alkyds or acrylics)
  • Bristlewhite Oil Brushes (hog hair for oils)
  • Graduate Brushes (economic synthetic brushes ideal for beginners)
  • Monarch Brushes (synthetic mongoose hair for acrylics, water-mixable oils & oils)
  • Royal & Langnickel Brushes (tiny brushes for detail work)
  • Sceptre Gold II Brushes (available in a mix of hair types including synthetic & sable)
  • Series 101 Sable Brushes (long handled, fine brushes made from Kolinsky sable hair)
  • Palette Knives (for full bodied acrylics & oils)

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