Best Painting Brushes for Artists

Best Painting Brushes for Artists

This conversation between Jackie Kamin and Sherrie McGraw is about the best painting brushes for artists.  They offer a discussion on tips and advice for artists to help them master their craft.

Jackie:  Hey Sherrie. How are you?

Sherrie:  Hi Jackie, I’m good. How are you doing?

Jackie:  Good to see you. Today I wanted to talk to you about the brushes, about the tools of our trade.

Sherrie:  Wonderful. Wonderful. What would you like to talk about?

Jackie:  Well, I think in everybody’s mind is there a quality of brush that you look for a standard? What is the gold standard?

Sherrie:  For brushes? Well, I mean, first of all, you pretty much want to buy a brush that isn’t coming from Hobby Lobby or Walmart. So start with that first, go to a reputable art store to find the best painting brushes. And there are some really top brush companies in the world. One being Silver Grand Prix, another one being Treacle. Those two are certainly very good. So the type of brush that we use and we feel, and is the best is a hogs hair bristle brush.  The style is called a Filbert.  Eeither a regular Filbert or a long Filbert.  With this, you can make any kind of brushstroke that you would want.

Jackie:  Do you feel like there’s a specific range of sizes that an artist would need? A beginning artist would need rather than a professional artist or you know, if I’m just starting to paint, what do I need?

Sherrie:  What do you need? Okay, well you need something small so you probably don’t need to go smaller than a 2 or 3 size 2 or 3. And then you can jump sizes. You could go 4, 6, 8,10 maybe 12 up to 12 and then you can, with that you should be able to do a background. And the only other kind of brush that we tend to get, is a background brush, which is about an inch and a half wide, a bristle also and very flat.

And so that you can smooth out your backgrounds in certain areas where you don’t want to have brushstrokes. So basically those and then a very small signing brush, which would be more like a watercolor brush and probably is about as small as you can get and then, and that would be a good signing brush. So really other than that, you don’t need anything else.

Jackie:  Great. Well that really, limits my spending, to a very good budget. But tell me what you think about the best brushes for painting that all my friends are getting.  Tell me the magic brush.  The brush that’s going to allow me to go from a novice to a professional painter. Are there specific brushes that are on the market that are being marketed as you know, doing special tricks?

Sherrie:  Yes, there are plenty of those out there and I certainly don’t know them all.  But I know a fan brush has been something that, people have, teachers have quite often touted. My first teacher actually had us use a fan brush in order to deal with edges on objects and to kind of blur the edge. You can do everything that you need to do in a painting with a Filbert. You don’t need these trick brushes.  These angled brushes you don’t need, and again, I don’t know all the trick brushes that there are out there.

But I guess if you watched Bob Ross, you probably know what they all are.  Pretty much my whole career, I mean, most of it I have used Filberts.  I believe you can paint any kind of a painting with a Filbert. So, you really don’t need to be distracted and buy all of these other kinds of brushes.  Plus, it’ll save you a lot of money.

Jackie:  What. Tell me, historically, have artists in history used something on different then we use today? Do you feel that Rembrandt used, Sable brushes or did he use Filbert long hair bristle brushes?

Sherrie:  Yes. Yes. Rembrandt would have used hogs, hair bristle brushes. And when beginning with late Titian and on a painting took a whole new turn. Before that, they did use the equivalent of watercolor brushes, Sable brushes. And because basically, they were drawing and then kind of filling in with color. But once Titian got a sense of what it was to make a brushstroke and actually leave the brushstroke, a whole new era in painting began. And so Rembrandt and you know, it was one of the first ones, as well, Velasco, Van Dyck that whole, all the greats from that moment on were all using, bristle brushes and making brushstrokes. And so that we are the heirs of that tradition.

Jackie:  And what do you think about the new synthetic brushes over a natural bristle?

Sherrie:  Well, I did try synthetic for a while and actually seemed to like them for a while. They had synthetic, Filberts and I tried using them until one day. It took me about a half-hour. I was working on these brushes to try to clean them and could not get them clean. And even after a half-hour, they still had paint in them. So, you know, the synthetic just don’t operate the same way as a bristle. And bristle is so easy to clean, you know, so, and also the spring of it is, which is the feel of, you know, when you touch, put paint onto the canvas.

So there’s a kind of spring that the brush has and that’s something that will develop your own handwriting, your own nervous system and your own brushstroke, which again, has infinite variety because of everybody’s nervous system is so different and how they respond to their subject, and how they respond to their subject is different.

Jackie:  And I love the way you’re going to demonstrate the brush pressure, and what you can actually do with the brush.

Sherrie:  Yes. Yes.

Jackie:  Is it going to be part of this blog?

Sherrie:  Yes. I’m looking forward to doing that.

Jackie:  And I guess it’s all we can say today about the best painting brushes and brush pressure and using our amazing tools.

Sherrie:  Wonderful. Jackie, I’m glad we got to talk about it.

Jackie:  Yes thank you bye.

Sherrie:  Okay then.

Join as a Free Member of the Artists Guild to watch a demonstration on “How to Make Brushstrokes” by Sherrie McGraw.

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