View Full Version : Brushes for Water-Mixable oils

03-28-2019, 01:23 PM
Hi All,
I have been using W&N Artisan oils for a few months now. I have about 2 dozen brushes but I have found that I like to use only one. Unfortunately it is a number 12, which is a bit large for detail work. It is a synthetic bright. All my other smaller bright and flat brushes do not come to a sharp point like this one. It is perfect for painting to an edge, and lining out narrow stripes of paint.

I would like to get some smaller sized brushes. I have been looking on-line but the illustrations of the brushes only show the broad side of the brush, so I can't tell if the edge of the brush is sharp.

I am mostly using Artisan thinner for a media, and cleaning up with water with a little Murphy's Oil Soap. The water and soap seem to keep the edge of this brush forever sharp.

If anyone has specific suggestions of brushes that would do what I want, please chime in. I got this brush from Hobby Lobby, but their selection at my local store is hit and miss. My other option is to drive 2 1/2 hours to San Antonio, Texas, USA to the Jerry's Artarama store. But I have never been there, and there is a disclaimer on Jerry's web site saying their stores can charge different prices and have far less selection than their on-line store.

Thanks in advance.

Steve Pituch




03-28-2019, 01:57 PM
I have had good luck with the Princeton Dakota 6300 series flats. I have some that are several years old and they still hold a crisp chisel edge. I keep them suspended in oil or OMS for days at a time while working on a painting but I found that I do need to thoroughly clean them from time to time with Masters brush cleaner. Once clean, I shape them with the lather still in there and leave them to dry at least overnight. That has kept the edges sharp for years. I tried leaving my brushes in oil and never cleaning them which worked fine for hog bristles, but not for these chisel edge synthetic flats. They would eventually lose the clean edge. Also, for me, the 6300 Brights do not hold a sharp edge like the regular Flats. I bought the #6 and #12 6300 Angled Brights and had high hopes for them, but even brand new neither one
would hold a sharp chiseled tip. Even less liked than the Angled Brights, are the 6300 rounds . The brights are OK for when I don't need a chisel tip, but I wish I had never bought the rounds. I would gladly trade all my 6300 Brights and Rounds for Flats.

The 6300s should hold up well to WMOs with water added. I use them with acrylics as well and they perform admirably.

03-28-2019, 02:41 PM
Princeton 6300s are very good brushes. Perhaps you could call the Jerry's nearest you and ask if they carry them in store. That way, you could get an idea of what they're like and also try out whatever other brushes are carried in store. My local Blick store carries a lot of brushes, even though it's not as many as the huge number they carry online. Blick, and probably Jerry's too, probably carry the best-seller brushes in the store, so chances are you'd have some good brushes to choose between. My Blick store has an area where you can try brushes; there's a type of paper that will show the brush mark made by a wet brush, and they let customers wet the brushes and test them out on a sheet of that paper (the brush marks disappear when the water dries, so the smallish sheet of paper can be used repeatedly).

I think you should be able to find a brush that's the same brand/style as you say you like on the Hobby Lobby online site. Also, I've found that one thing that's absolutely necessary if you want a chisel edge is to clean your brushes thoroughly and never, ever get paint into the bristles near the ferrule.

I like Princeton Catalyst Polytip flats for their chisel edge, but also have found that I need to be very careful with them to avoid having problems with splaying bristles and stray off-kilter bristles. I end up working pretty hard to get them to return to their chisel edge condition. I find it well worth it, since I like the way they feel, but they're not for everyone. They tend to be a stiffer brush, too.

Probably the best flats I've ever tried are Rosemary Ivory synthetic bristle brushes. They hold their shape forever and are a pleasure to use. The company is British, but they ship to the U.S., and their prices are surprisingly reasonable, especially if you purchase one of their many sets. They aren't carried much in the U.S. but I think there may be a few art suppliers who offer them. I seem to recall that the Italian Art Store carries them.

Also, although some say they have good luck with it, I've found Murphy's Oil soap to eventually start splaying brushes if it ever gets near the ferrule area and this seems inevitable when cleaning smaller brushes. You might consider Master's Brush Soap instead, which also conditions brushes as they're cleaned.

03-28-2019, 03:11 PM
I am mostly using Artisan thinner for a media,
I hope artisan thinner is just another word for water, because that's all you need to thin water mixables. Winsor and Newton also has a water-mixable linseed oil to paint fatter.

I've painted with water mixables for years - I now mostly just use them for underpaintings, and I'm curious to know what problems you've had with brushes for them? I use literally the same brushes for my water mixables as for my regular Gamblin and Graham oil colours and I've never noticed any difference in paint handling.

The biggest problem I've had with brushes and water mixables has to do with cleanup - many brushes and handles don't like being in water.

03-28-2019, 04:16 PM
On his website acrylic painter, and TV personality, Jerry Yarnell, offers his "chisel-edged" brushes for sale.

They truly are not "his", per se--they are the "Black Gold" version, made by Dynasty. They are synthetic bristle brushes, and they come to a knife-edge, when new. They wear like iron, so they maintain their sharp, chisel-edge for quite a length of time.

I bought a #4, and a #2 flat brushes from him a couple of years ago, and liked them so much, I bought two more.

I bought them with the goal of using them for their chisel-edge characteristic only, but I discovered them to be useful for nearly everything. So I use the heck out of them. Best brushes I've ever owned. Jerry Yarnell's prices are quite reasonable for such good brushes, and I've seldom seen them offered by other supply stores, actually. They perform well with oil paint, and they certainly work for Jerry, who paints in acrylics.

I don't know the precise characteristics of water-miscible oil paint, because I avoid them, but judging how these brushes perform with either oil paint, or acrylic paint, they should work well for WM oils.

03-29-2019, 09:47 AM
Thanks everyone for the advice. Actually, this is my first post here, and the info is very helpful.

Contumacious: I have heard good things about the Princeton 6300 series before. Now that I know the flats are chisel edge, I can order some.

Annie: Which series of the Rosemary brushes have the chisel edges?

Pinelson: I know you are the expert on this subject. This is what I have found. W&N does not recommend using water as a thinner for their W/M paints. They say they dry too quickly with water and "pull". Their thinner smells like brandy. I don't know if it might be oil of lavender or walnut oil. They say using their Artisan Thinner, you get a smoother flow and the paint dries quickly but not as fast as using just water. I have found this to be more or less true. I also have tried their Artisan Impasto, linseed oil and fast dry medium. The worst was the fast dry medium. It was qlossy but never dried. I ended up wiping it all off with Gamsol.

"In terms of the "fat over lean" rule, water can be thought of as a solvent for Artisan, but for the best results do not use water. Although Artisan is fully mixable with water, Artisan Thinner has a stronger solvency than water which means that Artisan will accept comparatively more Artisan Thinner than water. Therefore Artisan can be thinned further with Artisan Thinner than with water in lower layers. In addition Artisan thinned with Artisan Thinner feels slightly better on the brush than Artisan thinned with water. Whether you use water or Artisan Thinner, you can still clean the brushes with water."

WFMartin: Thanks for the Yarnell info. I watched his video. I am sure these brushes are great.

I have been oil painting for only a year. My wife recent got the hives bad twice when I was painting. I know they say Gamsol is non-toxic (if used correctly) but it does evaporate quite quickly off of my palette. I am going to try to alternate using oil and W/M oil for very other painting. I just don't have enough experience to be able to tell the difference between the quality of oil and W/M oil. (I need much more brush work experience!). When I use oil next time, I am going to fill my brush cleaner pot with vegetable oil instead of Gamsol. I think as far as brushes are concerned, am getting to the point where my cheap brushes can't do what I want them to do. The new brushes I order should make painting much more enjoyable.

Thanks all,

Michael Lion
03-30-2019, 10:41 AM
I have been using Princeton Dakota brights (I don't think they are stiff enough to support the long flats), and small round Princeton Umbrias for detail work.

The Princeton Polytip Catalyst brushes are amazing, just like hog bristle, the first time you use them, but they very quickly become a frayed mess.