View Full Version : Brush quality affect painting???

05-28-2004, 06:34 AM
Hi everyone,
Does the quality of your brushes affect the painting? Reason asking, is that although I have a few brushes, they are all cheapies and I was wondering if I should start saving up for better quality - especially as I want to sell my work in the future (I hope! :p ).
Any comments would be greatfully appreciated. :D

05-28-2004, 07:26 AM
i have both....some really good and some really cheap....and i use them as it fits whatever i'm doing. sometimes, like if i'm "scrubbling" paint into the canvas, or anything else heavy handed, i use my cheapies

i've run the gammut on brushes. i think when i was into watercolor, brush quality made a much bigger difference.

right now, my two favorite brushes to use are this cheap $2.00 one and a princeton professional series (it was pricey)(WISH I COULD FIND MORE OF THIS BRUSH LINE IF ANY ONE KNOWS OF A SOURCE< I WOULD BE SO APPRECIATIVE). the Princeton i've had for about 4 years and it is just now beginning to show a tiny bit of wear. that has been an awesome brush and the one i use most often because of how well it performs for me.

but then, the little $2.00 jobbie i keep reaching for.

brushes CAN make a difference, but i think it really depends on how you paint and finding the brush that works for you. i've bought alot of size 12 flats from different companies, paying a variety of prices, but i find i still reach for my two favorites and use the others in places where i don't care if the brush gets damaged.

my opinion: a good brush should be an extension of YOU. it should do what you want it to do, and in acrylic, whether its cheap or expensive, it doesn't matter.


05-28-2004, 09:04 AM
Thankyou quinacridonemagenta for your advice, I will take this on board as I consider my options.

Marty C
05-28-2004, 09:54 AM
Hi Bioartist,
Cheap or expensive, the main criteria is that it does the job you want the way you want it. The better brushes tend to be more durable, something to consider as acrylics can be pretty tough on brushes. Also cheaper brushes tend to throw bristles which can be a real pain, trying to pick bristle bits off your work. But the main criteria is how it works for you. Don't worry about the price of the brush, worry about how the brush affects your work.

05-28-2004, 10:22 AM
Thankyou marty c for your help :)

05-28-2004, 10:28 AM
Don't worry about the price of the brush, worry about how the brush affects your work.

As an artist, I'll second that, but make it read in reply to the question so that it says, "don't worry about the quality of the brush..." As an artist I tell novice students that you don't even need a brush to paint with. You can do a painting from first to last using nothing more than a painting knife (or knives), or even a few selected tree branches!

As a teacher, I contradict myself by telling students to buy a few of the best they can afford rather than a bunch of junk because it's cheap. Cheap tools, whether art tools or carpenter tools, only hamper the beginner in the learning process. Once a person is higher up the learning curve, then using other "tools" than brushes becomes more controllable.

05-28-2004, 10:47 AM
thankyou jaxas, and I have come to the conclusion that I'll save up and buy at least one good quality brush at least twice a year (I may be able to stretch the budget that far :rolleyes: )
Thanks for the help.

Lady Carol
05-28-2004, 11:29 AM
Agree with what MartyC said, they just have to do the job and as long as they don't shed hair onto the canvas, their good.

I have a whole range from cheap to not so cheap but then again not expensive. I can't bring myself to pay lots of money for a brush

05-28-2004, 01:39 PM
Yes, brush quality can most definitely affect your painting. A lot depends on what you want to do, how you want to do it and how you want the work to look at the end of the day.

Like most people I have both very cheap and very expensive brushes, like Marty says the main criteria is that the brush does the job you want the way you want it - each type has its respective duties depending on what I'm painting. For example I still have some dirt-cheap Chinese bristle brushes that I would use for backgrounds if I was painting on canvas as well as a large collection of expensive Kolinky rounds that I use for smooth surfaces and detail work.

So as general advice, figure out the kind of painting you think you'll be doing and build your brush collection appropriately. So if you paint on canvas in a fairly loose manner you'll want some biggish brushes, flats or brights maybe, and synthetic bristle is probably the best fibre to go with they don't go floppy when they become wet and they take abrasion very well. I like W&N Galeria brushes for this kind of thing which are quite stiff, I'm sure there are equivalents in other ranges.

For some detail work you'll need one or two smaller flats and some rounds, I'd start with synthetic fibre here too (Golden Taklon maybe) and if you feel you're ready to try them at some point invest in a couple of natural-hair rounds (red sable, Kolinsky etc.). By the way many acrylic painters work with synthetic brushes exclusively so if you don't feel you need to fork out the $$$ for expensive sables don't sweat it.


05-28-2004, 10:19 PM
Thank you Einion and Lady Carol
Your advice has been greatly appreciated and I intend to save up and buy a few better-quality brushes over time.
Thankyou again.
Stacey :D

Richard Saylor
05-28-2004, 10:44 PM
I see no point in going overboard with super-expensive brushes. For example, one of the main advantages of Kolinsky Sable brushes is realized only with the watercolor medium. They hold a lot of color and release it very evenly. This advantage would be lost with any paint having a greater viscosity than watercolor, such as acrylics.

05-28-2004, 11:08 PM
Thankyou cmyguy,
And yep, I don't intend on going over-board, just a bit better than a set of 12 for $4A. - say around $4-$10 for a good synthetic. (ooooo that'll break the bank! :evil: )

Richard Saylor
05-28-2004, 11:27 PM
Thankyou cmyguy,
And yep, I don't intend on going over-board, just a bit better than a set of 12 for $4A. - say around $4-$10 for a good synthetic. (ooooo that'll break the bank! :evil: )
Yep, $4-$10 synthetics (or synthetic-natural hybrids) are what I use, even for watercolor. Maybe someday I'll get an expensive brush or two, but there's no hurry. :cool:

05-29-2004, 09:37 AM
...one of the main advantages of Kolinsky Sable brushes is realized only with the watercolor medium... This advantage would be lost with any paint having a greater viscosity than watercolor, such as acrylics.
Hi Richard, up to a point you're right, but when acrylics are used highly thinned with water, Kolinsky holds the same advantage as with watercolour. And you just can't beat that spring and point-retention!


05-29-2004, 10:25 AM
Respectfully, to those who don't agree that Kolinsky is needed on much more than watercolors, I disagree. I realize this isn't the oil forum, but when you are doing a painting of multiple layers of oil glazing, Kolinsky is the only way to go.

Glazing in acrylic is similar, but there are synthetics that are wonderful, and keep the brush hairs from absorbing the paint. At the same time, the springiness of sable has an advantage in brushwork in acrylics unmatched by the synthetics, you just have to keep your brushes clean as you work.

I have single brushes that cost hundreds of dollars, and favorites that were a $1.00 special. My philosophy has been to buy really good quality brushes as well as the bargain bin variety. BUT - If a brush sheds, it goes back to the store or manufacturer.

A few of mine - ( don't send me flowers, dear, how about a brush :evil: )

05-29-2004, 11:49 AM
Now that's a brush collection!


05-29-2004, 10:40 PM
WOW, thankyou everyone for your opinions.
You have brushes that cost hundreds - ouch :p
Thankyou again to everyone for your help.

05-29-2004, 11:32 PM
Well, I can't offer too much of an opinion, because I just started painting a few weeks ago, but most of my brushes are "cheap" (some of the ones I use the most I paid under a dollar for :eek: ). I'm sure the pricier ones might be better, but I needed to be sure I enjoyed painting, so I started with the cheap ones, and so far they work for me.

(but I do have to say that I believe that I might need to find a brush-a-holics anonomys, because I can't seem to go into the art store without coming out with a new one, even if they are cheap! :eek: :evil: LOL!)

05-31-2004, 10:37 AM
You are governed by your limitations, and the human spirit triumphs to discover what others say is not possible.

If you can only afford to walk out back and cut branches off of tag alders, beat their ends with a hammer to reduce to a fibrous state, your determination coupled with great passion and patience will find a way to make paintings turn out to be great ones.

Life is a balance...and you get what is afforded to you. Unfortunately, it took me half a life to learn all that. How tragic later to learn how buying your expensive brushes while not affording your son decent basketball shoes for high school tryouts could negatively effect kids for life.

I remember in those glorious late 70's and early 80's when the rage in tennis were the Wilson T2000 and 3000 metal racquets. Then came the first graphites. All the SERIOUS tennis players had to get one. Plus...you had to have the outfit. Converse white shoes, special knit collared shirt with white shorts, and sweatbands for your wrists and head.

I played varsity tennis in high school and college, and I used to particularly enjoy destroying the pretensions of the snooty affluent elite. Show up at tennis courts wearing ragged cutoff jean shorts, leave my Dunlop Maxply fort wooden racquets in the vehicle and instead bring my wife's Chrissy Evert Wilson wood racquet.

I'd see these guys with their tennis bags and 2-3 extra racquets waiting for their partners to show up. I'd say..."wanna hit a few?"...and then would come that familiar looking down their nose look. "Naw...that's okay!"

I'd keep at 'em saying perhaps only 'till their partner showed up...and inevitably get 'em out on court. Ball placement, spin control, court position anticipation...know how of the game. Got out there...would hit, play a set and kick their royal butts!!!!! Gee...I used to love that. There was some justice in doing that. Just to see their stereotyping and presumptions destroyed.

Sure there are advantages to great brushes if you can routinely afford them. There is an advantage to affording a $40,000 plush vehicle too, but I'm driving a rebuilt completely remodeled 1983 Ranger pickup truck. Gets me where I need to be. If you have great expensive brushes thats good. People would asssume looking at my work I would have them, but I don't. If you can't afford 'em, don't over rate the importance of having them.

I think routine is important...gettin' to know something, and exploiting its every possibility and potential. A person that gets to know their cheap brushes will be better off than some with their better ones.

I had a snooty wildlife art peer once that claimed to use only the finest fox red sable brushes, but would toss them after their 2nd or 3rd use. Good grief, give me a break! I'll trust talent, the human spirit and sheer determination any day...

btw...I don't say all this to rub anyone the wrong way...but out of empathy for those that just can't seem to make their mark in the world because life might be tough. Its real easy to feel sorry for yourself living in such a way...and easier still to talk yourself out of the potential success that could come our way. Outlast everyone else...that's the secret. Longevity, endurance...stick toitiveness. You have all that you need right there inside of you...!


05-31-2004, 11:03 AM
Thankyou Larry for your advice, and for making me to see that it's not the instrument in the hand that makes a great artwork - it's the hand, mind and skill that holds the tool that makes the art. :clap: :clap:
Thankyou again.