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Old 12-13-2009, 05:14 PM
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samhill samhill is offline
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Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

I switched from oils to acrylics about 6 months ago and at the time bought a bunch of the cheaper acrylic brushes (of various sizes) from ASW (the 'creative mark' brush line). They have been fine, however, the bristles start to get mushy and expand after a relatively short while. I'm very good at cleaning with soap and water after use, but am still getting lots of this...no more find edge:



I just bought a couple higher quality brushes (silver brush bristilon) to try, but am wondering if they too will go mushy in a relatively short time? I paint every day and am pretty hard on brushes and am going through them fast with all this mushing out, so do you think it's better to just stay with lots of cheap brushes or are more expensive brushes really worth the extra cost? I need to buy a big batch of brushes again soon and would appreciate your advice.....

Thanks for your thoughts....

PS....maybe this would be a good thread to share what you think are the best brushes and why?

PPS....in your experience is there much difference between golden and white nylon bristles? I've just been buying white as my art supply place says there isnt any difference to speak of......
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:30 PM
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idylbrush idylbrush is online now
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

Have you looked into Escoda from Spain. I have several and enjoy them immensely. The brand you speak of it not one of my favorites for oh so many reasons but that is just me. As far as gold of white. I have a preference for the golden Taklon bristles for some reason, they seem to be a bit more in keeping with how I paint. There are some very good brands of brushes that are not terribly expensive, you just have to experiment until you find the ones that work for you.
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:37 PM
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by idylbrush
Have you looked into Escoda from Spain. I have several and enjoy them immensely. The brand you speak of it not one of my favorites for oh so many reasons but that is just me. As far as gold of white. I have a preference for the golden Taklon bristles for some reason, they seem to be a bit more in keeping with how I paint. There are some very good brands of brushes that are not terribly expensive, you just have to experiment until you find the ones that work for you.

thank you...I have heard of escoda but never tried them and will be sure to try a few in my next order. Have you had this experience of the brush mushing out on you, or is it just these cheap brushes I'm using? I never had such problems with hog bristle when I was into oils.
Also, isnt the gold generally softer than the white?
thanks again....
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Old 12-13-2009, 05:54 PM
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

I find the gesso to be very abrasive and thus I only buy cheapish brushes (Softgrips) and throw them away when the bristles fray too much. Softgrips are thew same price for any size, $2.99 so they work out quite economical in the long run.
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:36 PM
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

My favorite brushes for acrylics are Golden Taklon. After using them, I clean them up with a little dishwashing liquid and warm water, and they look almost new again. We bought them from Michael's. I like nylon brushes as well. I do not like to use natural hair paintbrushes since many of them shed and cannot hold a point. Just my 2 cents!
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Old 12-14-2009, 08:10 AM
sashntash sashntash is offline
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

While I love using natural hogs hair bristle brushes, I have found (and read) that it is the water that makes them go mushy... Hence, the problem that you are having since switching from oils to acrylics.

I have switched entirely to synthetic brushes. They do not get mushy from the water. They will, of course, eventually wear out... all brushes do.. but it won't be from mushiness

I use several brands depending on what I'm doing - thick or thin, loose or detailed.

My overall most favorite brushes are the Winsor & Newton Monarch. They are synthetic "mongoose" and the stiffness is between that of a hogs hair and a softer brush... They are wonderful and if I had to pick just one brush to use - the Monarchs would be it !!!!

One caveat ..... if you use primarily flats - as I do - the Monarch regular flat is shorter than most, so I buy the extra long flat...

If I want a stiff brush, I use the Silver Brush Bristlons which are synthetic "hogs hair."

For a soft brush, I use various brands of golden taklons......
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Last edited by sashntash : 12-14-2009 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:36 PM
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

I love to use natural hog bristle brushes with my acrylics. The water will tend to soak the bristle hairs and make them a bit softer than they would be when used with oils, but I find this a plus because the moisture they soak up will help keep my acrylic paints from drying out too fast on my brushes. Any hog bristle brushes will tend to get raggedy with hard use, whether with oils or acrylics, but this, too, can be an advantage in helping in scumbling those soft edges and blends.

My favorite brand of hog bristle brushes is Robert Simmons. Just a personal preference. I'm sure there are better and worse. They're just my faves. I keep a separate set of brushes for my oils and for my acrylics.

The synthetic hog bristle brushes by both Silver Brush and by Princeton are superb! They have the feel and stiffness of natural hog bristle, but they are much more durable and will tend to hold their shape much better. They provide greater control and cleaner edges.

The Winsor & Newton Monarch synthetic "mongoose" brushes are great for working with acrylics. Dick Blick's synthetic "mongoose" brushes are also superb! I like them even better than W&N. They offer a bit more stiffness than Golden Taklon or the white nylon types, but they give excellent control and are fine enough to leave smooth brushstrokes behind. They are also rugged and will give you long service.

I don't use the really soft synthetic brushes with acrylics unless I'm working in more fluid styles. Then, my brushes of choice are usually Robert Simmons White Sable rounds, and for filberts I love his Sapphire or Sienna series. The White Sable rounds come to a wonderful point and are great for laying in washes and doing fine details. With good care, they will last a long time and keep their lovely points.

I agree with Howard about not being fond of Creative Mark brushes in general. I bought a number of their brushes specifically designed for use with acrylics and they shed like a St. Bernard with mange all over my paintings. I was NOT a happy camper. I tried some of their natural sable brushes (red sable, I believe) for oil painting and they also shed quite a bit. The only brushes they make that I do like are their line of black sable brushes (fitch?) that never seem to be on sale. The filberts of this line are wonderful for doing softening or blending when I'm working in oils. This is especially handy for working on portraits. I would not use these brushes with acrylics, however.

In the end, the brushes you use will depend upon how you want to paint and what you like best. A good brush is one that you will use and that does the job you require.

Beverly
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:26 PM
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

It's always worth doing a search before posing the question about any of the tools and meaterials we use here

Here, and Winsor and Newton Ac. brushes and Problem with brushes and Brush for Masonite? How do you clean your brushes? and WillAtelier ruin brushes?

These were from a quick general search - you could go 'Advanced' and be more specific!
Hope these help.
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:26 PM
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

Another Golden Taklon user here. I don't pay attention to the brands I use, although I don't use cheap ones. They always seem to hold their shape very well. Thanks for the tip on the W&N and Dick Blick brushes.
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Old 12-14-2009, 05:44 PM
old_hobbyist old_hobbyist is offline
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

Because I work in the garage on the workbench under a fluorescent light, I paint smallish [8 x 10 to 16 x 20]. I always use cheap Chinese bristles for roughing in/underpainting. Recently, for the bulk of my painting efforts, I've been using the all-plastic handle softgrip Royals. Because I only have one eye, I have problems with distance. As a result I can only use the short handled brushes. I get them on eBay from DirtBikeGeorge at fantastic prices.

Care and feeding of brushes always seems to be an issue with me. It seems that as long as I keep the brush tips in water when I'm painting (I use one of those coiled spring thingies), thoroughly wash with dish detergent after I'm done for the day, run the brushes through a solution of hair conditioner, damp-dry them and lay them flat to thoroughly dry, they seem to last a whole lot longer. [Meaning months.]

Eventually even the brushes that I've taken the most care with begin to exhibit terminal bristle splay. I tried a whole bunch of solvents to get the dead paint from the ferrules. Ammonia and methyl ethyl ketone are about the only two that seemed to work but they require long soaking times and can really bugger up the plastic handles. [If you aren't chemistry-oriented, PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!] I now keep the older, frayed, fuzzed brushes for scrubbing and scumbling in bushes and trees.

It really busts me up to pitch a "most favorite of all" brush in the trash, tho! {A moment of silence, please!}
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Last edited by old_hobbyist : 12-14-2009 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 12-15-2009, 12:52 AM
MoonRise MoonRise is offline
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

The "Soft Grip" short handle brushes are relatively comfortable -for me-. But that is just taking the handle into consideration, not the bristles.

In general, the natural bristles usually won't hold up to the water content -and- the alkaline nature of acrylics all that well. If you choose to use the natural bristles, then that is your choice.

I picked up some Simmons "Expressions" but haven't used them much yet, so I don't have an opinion on them yet. The handles are a little thicker than other similarly sized brushes, yet they seemed to have a nice feel -in my hands-.

I'm usually not using the brushes for thick impasto though.
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Old 12-15-2009, 02:07 AM
Bayou13 Bayou13 is offline
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

You guys will probably laugh at me, or say "oh, that explains it...", but I never pay more than a quarter for a brush. I know it is because I don't know what I'm doing, but I have been using the same brushes for several years and I just keep them in these cups filled witrh water and never let them get dry. They seem to work fine for me.

And yes, one of those brushes is a tooth brush... hehe
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Old 12-15-2009, 03:51 PM
old_hobbyist old_hobbyist is offline
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

bayou13...
Quote:
one of those brushes is a tooth brush
Yes! An excellent scrubbing tool, particularly a beat-up soft bristle one... It also works great for pulling in grass and sea oat leaves. Can't get it to work on palm leaves, tho. I bought a bunch of defective ones from surplus years ago. I think they were a nickel each. Often the bristles fall out. But every once in a while, I'll break in one that's a keeper. I think I have four or five in various stages of use. This is only a "hehe" for people who demand the finest quality paints, canvases, brushes, and so on. As some VIP once said, talent and ability always trump materials and equipment.

{Izzat a flashlite? As I said, I work in a windowless garage. As a result, I always wear a visor lamp on my cap, just in case. Guess you and I live in places where power outages rage!}
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:26 PM
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

OK I have a GREAT tip for us Acrylic painters. I used to have the same trouble with the brushes - cleaning too often!!! I have been very successful at getting my brushes well formed by leaving them dirty, saturated with water and wrapping them in a plastic bag overnight on several occasions. This only really applies to REAL bristle brushes. It works to perfection to form a nice working tip.
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Old 12-15-2009, 07:33 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylic brushes - are they all (really) created equal ??

Great tip.

Refrigeration might also help.

You could spare yourself a whole lot of tedious brush cleaning this way.

If you had some extra brushes, and kept them reserved for like colors, you could probably go for a year or more like this.

It would be interesting to see how far it could be taken. If someone uses this approach with their brushes, and keeps them going until the year 2021 -- or even for a month or a year -- please let us know how it goes.

Last edited by Nilesh : 12-15-2009 at 07:38 PM.

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