Paint Brushes

By Arleen Mariotte

People come to our painting classes and ask, “What kinds of brushes should I buy to start?” The answer is: It depends. It depends on the medium – acrylic, oil, or watercolor. It also depends on the type of painting style you want to pursue. But for beginners, there are some basic paint brushes you can purchase and not break the bank (or your pocketbook).

Before you rush out to the store or browse the Internet to buy brushes, here’s the basic info you need to know:

Brushes have a number printed on the handle which indicates their size. Sizes start from 000 and go to 1, 2, and up. The higher the number, the bigger or wider the brush. Sometimes the brush is marked with its width in inches, like ¾ inch.

Paintbrushes come with two basic types of bristles: natural and synthetic. Natural bristles are made from some sort of animal hair. Synthetic bristles are often made from nylon, polyester, or a combination of the two. Natural-bristle brushes are best for applying oil-based paints. Synthetic-bristle brushes are recommended for water-based and acrylic because they can withstand the harsh acrylics and constant rinsing & washing. Be sure to check the packaging on the brush to ensure it’s compatible with the paint you’re using.


Remember- Every shape brush comes in different sizes.

1. Round brush: The most common and flexible type of brush. Every painter needs to have this type because it can be used for many functions and designs. They are great for lining, washing, and painting areas almost anywhere in your canvas. Round paintbrushes are excellent when you need more control. Most round paintbrushes tend to be narrow, perfect for making thin lines. You can use them for adding detail or for smaller areas where you need accuracy.

2. Flat brush: The flat brush, also called a wash brush, is flat and wide. This type of brush is perfect for painting large areas due to its wide coverage but not so thick bristles. It’s also perfect if you want to have a smooth, almost texture-free paint finish. A flat brush is, as the name would suggest, one where are wide but not very thick. The length of the bristles can vary. When buying a flat brush, look for one where the bristles have a spring to them, or snap back when you bend them gently.

Not only will a flat brush create a broad brushstroke, but if you turn it so that you’re leading with the narrow edge, it’ll produce thin brushstrokes. A short flat brush is ideal for small, precise brushmarks.

3. Angled brush: An angled brush is a variation of a flat brush with a clean-cut slanted edge. It functions the same as a flat brush but it can paint hard to reach areas. It provides better precision for curved lines.

4. Filbert brush: A Filbert has a rounded chiseled edge with a crescent shape for its head. The Filbert can produce thick, bold brushstrokes giving you a good coverage of paint.

5. Fan brush: This brush has a fan-shaped head. It is best for painting trees, grass, leaves. This brush is also great when creating unique textural effects perfect for painting realistic nature objects and animals.

6. Liner brush: This brush, also called a rigger, has very thin bristles, perfect for outlining your painting and doing the detail work. A rigger or liner brush is a thin brush with extremely long bristles. These brushes are great for producing fine lines with a consistent width, making them ideal for painting thin branches on trees, boat masts, or cat’s whiskers. They’re also good for signing your name on a painting.

These are six basic paint brushes that you can use to begin painting. One or two flat brushes in different sizes, two round brushes, an angled brush and a liner are great starters. To save you money, you can purchase paint brush sets instead of buying them individually.

Happy painting!


An Introduction to Art Paintbrushes, by Marion Boddy-Evans https://www.thesprucecrafts.com/an-introduction-to-art-paint-brushes-4086375
All About Brushes For Acrylic Painting by Tracie. https://stepbysteppainting.net/2021/01/29/all-about-brushes-for-acrylic-painting/

Beginner’s Guide to Uses of Different Paint Brushes. https://www.miicreative.com/blogs/painting/beginner-s-guide-to-uses-of-different-paint-brushes

11 Types of Paint Brushes (& When to Use Them)

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