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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Brushes For Oil Painting: A Quick Overview 

Oil painting is an exciting piece of art. The extent to which you will enjoy the art or not is influenced by the skill portfolio, materials, and tools. Whereas having the right combination of the three means continuous excitement at work, a lack of them can put even the most astute painter between the devil and the deep blue sea. 

Of the three must-haves for any oil painter—skill, materials, and tools—brushes are of great significance. Different brushes fit different painting ideas. There are brushes perfect for rock painting, sky painting, grass painting, and paintings involving human beings or even animals. It even goes to finer details like brushes for hair painting and even more for particular hair types. With this knowledge in mind, you cannot just wake up and pick any brush for your oil painting unless you are doing experiments or are not satisfied with perfection, a rare trait among artists.  

So, assuming you already have the requisite skill and all the materials you need except the brush, how do you choose a perfect brush to put a face to the pieces of ideas jostling in a panoramic view in your mind? We don’t want to tell you what brush you should choose. However, we will expose you to various brushes for an oil painting to help you understand their unique features and what they are good at.  

Brushes come in two main categories—natural and synthetic. Natural brushes are made from pig hair (hog bristle brushes), while synthetic brushes are made from synthetic materials. 

Natural Brushes 

Some of the standard natural brushes include:  

1. Round Brush 

They are round with pointed tips. Round brushes are great for use in delicate work requiring outstanding precision. This is because a round brush is typically a long handled paint brush that comes in large sizes. 

2. Filbert Brush 

They are flat with rounded heads, mimicking a combination of flat and round brushes. Filbert brushes are incredibly adaptable, making them fit various painting ideas. They can also be used for oil mixing. 

3. Fan Brush 

They are flat and shaped like a fan, hence their name, fan brush. The spread of hairs makes fan brushes effective to use with thinner paint. Fan brushes are excellent when painting grass, hair, and fur, removing brushstrokes and filling large areas.  

4. Bright Brush 

They are flat with shorter bristles than flat brushes. Bright brushes are excellent for the application and moving of oil paints. This is due to its short bristles, which bend less, and can move oil paint against the grip of the canvas and fill large areas fast. Because of their shorter bristles, they offer more control than most brushes.  

5. Flat Brush 

They are flat with squared ends. Flat brushes are the other type of brush other than round brushes, suitable for accuracy in detail. Flat brushes are also effective in that they cover large areas. 

6. Large Flat Brush 

They come in different sizes suited for different purposes, depending on the hair type. If you want to paint a large area, for instance, the heavenly body, or for painting the bottom layer, commonly known as underpainting, hog bristle brushes are excellent. However, soft brushes like those made from goat hair are better for extra gentle smoothing or blending.  

Synthetic Brushes 

Some of the synthetic brushes include: 

1. Da Vinci Nova Series Synthetics 

Da Vinci nova series have bristles with less stiffness which sweep across surfaces to create smooth, clean, and even lines. Because of their unique features, they are perfect for subtle blending and controlled spreading.  

2. Princeton Velvetouch 3950 Series 

Princeton Velvetouch 3950 brushes feature synthetic fibers that mimic natural sable qualities, occupying the middle ground between soft and stiff. It comes in a set of five brushes arming you with the basics for softening, blending, detail work, and sweeping gestures. 

3. Princeton Aspen Brushes 

Princeton Aspen Brushes have a unique feature of firmness. They have long bristles resembling hog hair, holding oils perfectly, keeping their shape, and showing a good amount of flexibility. 

4. Royal and Langnickel Majestic Short Handle Brushes 

Royal and Langnickel Majestic Short Handle Brushes are a pick for acrylics and a perfect choice for newbies to oil paint who aren’t ready to invest in a pricier set. Each is made with high-quality, Taklon fibers, which are processed to optimize their absorbency and softness. Their bristles are enduring and can stand up to hours of use. 

5. MyArtscape Pocket Paint Brush Set 

MyArtscape Pocket Paint Brushes are sold in a set of seven and are soft yet firm and deliver an even release of color with every stroke. They stand out because of their short handles, giving a painter more control over the implements. 


There are some crucial tips you need to have in mind while choosing your brush: 

1. Brush Size 

Oil brushes come in different sizes denoted by numbers. Similar numbers may also vary for various brands. Typically, the numbers are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… with numbers less than 0 denoted by 00, 000, 000, … Because of these subtle differences; it is safer to look at the brush size in centimeters or inches rather than the number written on the brush.  

It is also important to note that large bristle brushes are perfect for washes and broader areas of backgrounds. Medium-size bristle brushes with sharp edges can also be used for precise detail. Finer details are achieved best with small, round, sable brushes. 

2. Brush Handle 

The brush handle influences the painter’s command and control of implements. Longer handles allow for a bigger picture which the painter maintains a reasonable distance from the canvas. A shorter brush handle allows for greater control and precision.  You can choose handle lengths based on your need. 


Brushes come in different shapes, sizes, and materials, making them suited for various purposes in oil painting work. Therefore, it is vital to have a good knowledge of the multiple brushes available, both natural and synthetic series. Such knowledge will help you make a good choice or find a versatile combination of brushes to help you achieve your painting goals.  This article discusses the various types of brushes for oil painting, putting you in a better position to make an excellent choice or put together a winning combination. 

Jaxson henry
Jaxson henry
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