View Full Version : Buying brushes online - bad idea?

12-07-2018, 08:46 AM

I am stuck for buying my brushes for the first time in my life on line. But The nearest art shop is 25 miles away and I no longer have a car. Too expensive for a cab. So tell me...can I trust that if I order brushes on line that I will get a a GOOD selection of brushes? I MUCH prefer picking out my own brushes, but that's over, now. Anybody here buy their brushes online? Any suggestions? Sure would be grateful for your input. (I really need me some new brushes!!)
Thank you,

12-07-2018, 08:50 AM
The main problem with brushes is that you will not know which ones are right for you until you actually use them. Because of this, it is irrelevant if you purchase them in person or online.

Make sure you order an assorted set as a test first, paint, feel the way they work, what they can do, etc.

A brush is useless if the hand cannot control them.

12-07-2018, 08:56 AM
I think you need to see my brushes! Acrylics murdered them. Now I am back to oil.

12-07-2018, 09:06 AM
I agree with Humbaba. I have purchased brushes online as well as in person and I only knew my preferences after I had used them.

I'd keep separate brushes for oils and acrylics.

12-07-2018, 09:34 AM
Again, I am asking. Well, ok...let me put it another way. Can I trust that I will get good brushes if I purchase them on line? OR will I get badly made brushes thrown at me? And btw, I know what brushes I like using...just wanting to know if I can trust these art stores on line is all.

12-07-2018, 09:42 AM
There is no way to guarantee that you will have a good taste. However, I do have good luck with Loew and Cornell brushes, including Winsor & Newton.

12-07-2018, 09:50 AM
quality depends first and foremost on brand you're buying
there is always risk that you'll receive item damaged before or during shipment. Or for that matter wrong item. If seller has any decency he will refund you.

12-07-2018, 09:53 AM
I buy all mine online from https://www.rosemaryandco.com
Great brushes and brilliant service.

12-07-2018, 09:57 AM
I have purchased from Rosemary and Co and never had a problem with their product or their service.

12-07-2018, 10:15 AM
Rosemary and Company? Interesting, but I see it is in England. I am in the US. Need to get the money translated to US dollars.
Thanks for your help!
ETA to add: ooops! Found the US translation bar, there. So never mind.
Pat :clap:

12-07-2018, 11:51 AM
Pat, I agree about the Rosemary's. I have only a couple that I got in a class, but they're as good as everyone says and really quite reasonably priced, given the excellent quality.

As far as ordering other brushes from online stores, if you already know the brand/model of brush you need, you could always return it (before using it) if you weren't satisfied with the quality of the particular brush you received. It's possible to visually assess whether there are flaws in a particular brush, even if the line of brushes in general is a good one. I suppose it even might be possible to return a brush, if after using it only once you discovered it had some major flaw that wasn't anything associated with the line itself. But that would be something up to the particular store from which you purchased it, and there are probably many who would not do that. Best wishes.

12-07-2018, 12:00 PM
I don't know what level of painting you are at, but Amazon carries brushes for all levels, and returns are pretty easy if something is wrong with the items..
I've bought 2 sets of brushes at a the lower price and they are working very well for acrylics use..

Online purchasing usually depends on the site & what you are buying, a well known website & read the returns info is best...

Pretty sure Amazon will take returns after use , if you describe the problem.. like many hairs falling out.. as long as not a lot of time passed since the purchased date..
I usually read the product reviews before buying anything also...

12-07-2018, 12:22 PM
I usually purchase brushes locally, since I live in a community with lots of artists, and often there is a discount. But on occasion I buy some online, in order to add value to an order of something else, so I can get free shipping. In general, these are brush styles I don't already have, in small sizes, so they don't cost much. Then I can tell whether or not I like that kind of brush.

For example, in oils: I began with natural chungking hoghair brushes. These are inexpensive and effective for me. But with further experimentation, I decided that I prefer mid-price synthetic brushes, with firm or stiff bristles. As my older hoghair brushes wear out, I intentionally allow them to splay (for special effects), and replace them with synthetics.

The original post did not state which medium is in use. Big difference for oil, acrylic, watercolor! Also, big difference for painting style! If the medium is watercolors, there seems to be more mystique regarding the highest-quality brushes. (I realize this is a sub-forum of oil painting, but possibly others will find their way here via search.)

The original post also did not state whether "highest quality" brushes was the goal. Not everyone needs them. In my own case, my kit is portable, and the brushes get a beating, so I wouldn't spend for the very highest quality.

Dick Blick is one of the WC sponsors, and offers a large selection of brushes. They can be sorted by medium, manufacturer, material, and stiffness. The last factor is one that perhaps you hadn't thought of. Some styles can be purchased with either long (normal) handle, or short handle.

Also, Blick usually has much better pricing than Amazon. Shop and decide. There are also other online merchants. One advantage to Blick is that it is specifically an art supply merchant, so if you need to communicate with them, you will be communicating with someone who specifically knows about artist materials.

I'd avoid buying a pre-arranged "set" of brushes. Unless you are very short of funds, try buying a few brushes of different makes and styles, all of similar size, suited to your painting methods. Then you can compare how they handle for you, and follow up with a more complete order in the style(s) you like.

12-07-2018, 12:48 PM
Echoing what others have said, regardless of where you buy them, you will have to try them to decide if you like them. Unless they are clearly defective, you won't be able to return them to the brick and mortar store, or the online store. You will end up with more and / or better brushes for less money if you buy them online than at a walk in store, so for me, unless I need it today, I only buy online.

For some suggestions on where to start if you don't already have some favorite brands / types, try a search of "favorite brushes" on WC.

12-07-2018, 01:16 PM
I like buying locally but the art stores are not consistent with their stock.
Recently purchased a selection of Rosemary brushes from GB to US.
However I knew what type I wanted.
Fast service, good prices.

12-07-2018, 01:59 PM
The other cool thing about Rosemary brushes is if you are a beginner they have selections chosen by all sorts of artists so you can choose a set used by somebody whose style is similar to how you wish ( hope?!) to paint.

12-07-2018, 02:19 PM
I prefer buying brushes from a store because returns are easier and because I want to help keep these stores in business. But I've purchased plenty of brushes online and have no real regrets. In fact, I've found some real bargains on WN series 7 brushes.

It's useful to have cheap throwaway brushes as well as really good kolisnkys. Ebay is a great source for the el-cheapos. You can find China-made fan brushes that are as fine as any. Ultra-cheap "nail art" brushes can be had for a dollar or two; you wouldn't want to use these for transferring paint to the panel, but they work marvelously well as subtle blender brushes for small passages.

12-07-2018, 02:29 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/07-Dec-2018/1267904-1267904-best_2.jpg I didn't mention that I wanted brushes for portraiture work in oil before because I didn't think it made a difference what brushes I wanted since all I wanted to know was if buying brushes on line can be trusted...meaning if you get quality brushes or not from them? And maybe a recommendation as to where to buy on line.

When I had a car, I only went to Pearl or Blick. Pearl left us, so now it's just Blick. Trying to answer all in the one reply-back, here.

As to what level of artistry I am at...beats me as I am not that into it; but right now I have to do a family portrait requested by my son. I beat the hell out of my brushes because I kind of smack the paint on (LOL), yet somehow the painting turns out well in spite of me. Will post a pic of the last thing I painted or the url...whichever I can find, first. You can judge for yourself regarding level of work I do. The way I paint requires replenishing my brushes, often. I really am a craftsman which nobody is allowing me to be anymore...they want to keep me painting! Be that as it may, I am only recently going back to oils. So I need oil brushes.
Btw...didn't give up driving. My car gave up on me! It died. But that was probably the last car I'll ever have. Being without one really sux.

12-07-2018, 03:00 PM
I have had good experiences buying brushes online.

When buying brushes online, it is good to have had some experiences with the brushes you plan to buy. In other words it is is a bit safer buying brushes online with which you are already familiar, and know what to expect, especially if they are more expensive brushes.

I have ordered some Silverbrush Ruby Satin's from The Art Treehouse, and those were brushes I had already used. On the other hand, I saw a few rather inexpensive brushes displayed on The Art Treehouse that I thought I'd try, and they performed very well for me, considering their low cost.

I had watched Jerry Yarnell use, and talk about his "chisel-edged brushes", and I ordered a couple from Jerry. It was the first time I'd tried Black Gold by Dynasty, and I'm profoundly pleased with them. Jerry's prices seemed to be very reasonable, and I've had a difficult time finding those brushes anywhere else, especially for the price I paid from Jerry.

I bought them with the plan of using them only for specific tasks, but they have proven to be so good, and such "work-horses", that I found myself using them for nearly everything!

12-07-2018, 03:01 PM
That is a superb portrait. Absolutely terrific.

Doesn't look like you just smack the paint on. In fact, it seems that you do a fair amount of blending.

What kind of brushes do you normally use?

12-07-2018, 06:01 PM
That is a superb portrait. Absolutely terrific.

Doesn't look like you just smack the paint on. In fact, it seems that you do a fair amount of blending.

What kind of brushes do you normally use?

Thank you! But yeah, I smack the paint on; I really do. Blend the same way. I am constantly dabbing at the painting, sometimes lightly, and sometimes even smashing the brush down on the canvas right down to the ferrel (spelling?)...which of course destroys any brush I get into my hands in short order. Think it's because I am in too much of a rush to get thru it and to the end part, the fun part.

When I buy brushes I have this habit of running the brush over my finger. If I like the way it moves and feels, I buy it; I don't care what make it is. That said, I have all different kinds. Just gave a mess of my old ones to a friend who wanted them (about 60 of them). Why? I don't know; they were in pretty bad shape.

Right now, I am working on that portrait my son wants me to paint - photo he took at the pumpkin farm, shows him and his wife and three kids. Since I am doing it in oils, I think I best use oil brushes, no? For now I am using some acrylic brushes (I think). Btw, I did not go to art school; I paint by the seat of my pants; just paint what I see, period.

I am working with 5 brushes at the moment: one says it's a Blick Scolastic, there are two Win/New University series, and another one says Princeton Heritage, and the last one I don't know what it was. It had a really long handle that annoyed me so I cracked it over my knee and broke it in half; I can only read "300 B" as that's all that's showing on the half that is left.

12-07-2018, 07:04 PM
If you Google Rosemary brushes, there is an art store in the US that sells them for about the same prices. They are mail order.

I havenít tried Rosemary brushes yet, despite the glowing recommendations, because I am overwhelmed by their selection. They sell so many different types of brushes that I canít decide what to order. I will probably bite the bullet at some point and order one of their sets.

12-07-2018, 07:08 PM
I've ordered from Blick a few times. They sent me a free replacement on one because they sent one with completely bent back bristles, and I've had the occasional lack of QC by Windsor Newton inserting the hog hairs and trimming the end about 15 degrees crooked. Seems like they just grab whatever without looking at it, but I can't find what I want locally, so...

Seaside Artist
12-08-2018, 03:24 AM
Rosemary brushes are excellent and they are very nice people to deal with. Unfortunately too many companies have been bought up by corporations and corners are cut to rapidly increase their profits. Online sellers sell what they are sent by these corporations. If you know the brand of brushes you like, then you can try Jerry's or Blick. So far I have no complaints when buying top quality brushes from either of these. Rosemary takes great pride in their brushes and business. Their prices are fair as well.

12-08-2018, 04:11 AM
If you hard on your brushes as you say then dont spend a lot. Just bin them. Online brushes are no different from shop brushes. They can both fail at any time. Rosemarys are great. But im biased as i live close to her.:)

12-08-2018, 03:14 PM
If you "smack" the paint on by mechanically dabbing it (rather than smoothly brushing it), then you might want to save money and buy brushes that are not top of the line. Also, if you are in the habit of getting paint up by the ferrule, or leaving brushes uncleaned for awhile, or painting in an extended session (particularly with alkyds) so that the paint begins to gum up, then you might be better off with cheaper brushes that you replace more often.

In the mid-price range I have had good experience with Princeton Catalyst Polytip, and Silver Brush Bristlon, both of which are rather stiff (my preference).

For "smacking" paint around I use the less-expensive Utrecht Natural Chungking Hoghair brushes, to which I give a second life as edge softeners when I eventually fray them.

The Princeton 3750 Select series has much softer bristles, which do not suit my newbie painting style (yet). But I have had good results with the Lunar Blender from this series.

I have not had any of these brushes lose hairs.

Ted Bunker
12-09-2018, 10:21 PM
If you're in the US, then any of the major outlets on-line is a good start; Blick's, Jerry's or Cheap Joe's. They all have moderate price-point brushes in reasonably-priced assortments.

12-09-2018, 11:13 PM
Well thank you all for your input! I really, REALLY do appreciate it. I think I will give Rose Marys and maybe even Blick a try for my online brush purchases. Again, many thanks!


12-10-2018, 04:18 AM
Rosemarys have some really good synthetics which would probably suit your style as they are both robust and inexpensive.

Michael Lion
12-14-2018, 07:51 PM
The only downside is that, on two occasions, Dick Blick did a bad job of packaging to protect the brushes, and the bristles were crushed.

And once, another online art supplies retailer didn't include a brush in the order at all, and there was no customer service that answered the phone.

Lon Reams
12-19-2018, 03:39 PM
Rosemary and Company? Interesting, but I see it is in England. I am in the US. Need to get the money translated to US dollars.
Thanks for your help!
ETA to add: ooops! Found the US translation bar, there. So never mind.
Pat :clap:

I also get all of my brushes from Rosemary & Co. Shipping to the states isn't that high at all. I've got nothing but good things to say about their brushes and their company. Both are excellent. They will answer any questions you have and work with you personally if you have a certain request.

Great folks.

The only snag to shipping is during one order my brushes were held in New York customs for two weeks. But thankfully that only happened the one time.

Jon Bradley
12-22-2018, 11:49 AM
Like others have noted, it depends on what your preferences in brushes are. However, if you're looking for hog hair for oil painting alternatives, within a reasonable price range, i've had a very favorable experience with Blick's Masterstoke series and Simmon's "Signet" line-- The former especially so.

Also, since you're not super experienced with brushes or hold a big preference yet, I'd suggest not spending much on soft hair brushes, most certainly not sables and the like. They're everywhere and exorbitantly expensive, yet you can get very similar results with cheap, white/yellow tacklon sets (walmart/joanne's/etc.); It's easy to slip into the trap of over priced art gear and burn out the budget, especially here.

Good luck.

12-27-2018, 03:59 PM
the answer is Yes, you can order good brushes online. There are suppliers that can be trusted. Look carefully at reviews. However, you have work to do. be very careful and read all of the descriptions of the brushes before deciding. Pictures of small brushes can look the same as much larger brushes. "Sable" will be later described as mixed hair, or mixed weasel, or red weasel mix. So you have to be careful, even with synthetics. Here is how it works. About 80 +% of all the online artist brushes are made by the Nanchang Fontainebleau Painting Materials Industrial Co. in China. They are rebranded, marked up by 400% or more, and marketed to you through many online shops. Nanchang only sells in bulk, so if you don't need 500 of the same brush, you can shop around and find a Chinese supplier that only maybe doubles the price for one set, or brush (but usually sets). As to quality, All these brushes are high end 'good' to 'very good', but not top of the line, and not really spectacular. Except for super soft goat hair brushes. Beautiful to paint with but get destroyed if used with oil or acrylic. SO, You can get better. Real Kolinski sable will say "Kolinski Sable" and should be made in Russia. Other animal hair (eg. badger, hog) should say that. If you really know your brushes, and you want superior quality, there are a handful of brush makers that have been around a long time and are reputable. borcianie bonazzi in Italy. Leonhardy in Germany. FM Brush in America. Do your homework, and you'll find that the better the brush, the more you'll pay, and the more established the web seller, the higher the price but the more confidence you will have that the brush(es) will arrive as described and on time. The Web is the best and biggest art store out there.

01-21-2019, 05:08 AM
Question for Rosemary Brush users:

I am looking to replace some long and short flats. Iíve never tried Rosemary brushes because they have too many different brand names and types to choose from and their reviews rave about them all with no,clear descriptions.
Which type/brand of Rosemary flats do you recommend ó the Classic, Ivory, Master, etc?
I do mostly landscapes and still life.

Richard P
01-21-2019, 05:17 AM
I've used Ivory and Eclipse. Ivory are stiffer - more like Hog and Eclipse are soft like Mongoose. Both are excellent.

They do have a good article on their website about brushes for oil:

01-23-2019, 07:22 PM
Thanks Richard that article was helpful.
I missed it perusing their website.
Yep, the ivory and Eclipse look like the best fit for me.