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Choosing The Right Brush
How to choose the right brush
* OIL COLOURS
There is one main benchmark for brushes that are used with thick or viscous colour; the thicker the colour, the stiffer the brush needs to be. A heavy paint like oil requires a brush with enough resilience to manipulate the colour with complete control.
However, a colour that has been thinned will need softer tuft (e.g. soft hair or filament) and a colour that has been thinned to a fluid consistency needs a brush with flow control (e.g. synthetic or natural hair brush such as sable).
Therefore brush characteristics to consider are:
• Firmness of bristle – Is the bristle capable of moving heavy-bodied colour over the surface with authority?
• Tip control – Does the bristle or hair allow for subtlety in blending? Does it give fine control when creating detail?
Oil colour brushes are generally made from two different types of hair, Hog and Synthetic hair.
Properly dressed, the finest quality hog brushes offer superior firmness and flagged ends for control and blending. Hog bristle is good for use with thick colour. The hair is extremely resilient and the most important characteristic is that it is ‘flagged’ or split at the end.
These flags carry more colour on the brush and apply it evenly on the surface. The very best hog brushes have over 80% flagged hairs. We offer three types of hog hair brushes (Artists’ Hog, Winton and Azanta) and one synthetic brush which resembles the properties of Hog (Artisan).
The second choice for oil colour painters is a sable brush. These are used when the painter needs more control of colour when it has been thinned down with solvents. The high quality hair gives the brush excellent shape retention and allows the artists to paint intricate detail. This makes it the ideal complement to a Hog brush in an oil painter's studio.
High quality synthetic fibres are especially good if the brushes come into contact with water. As with our Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colours, where the brushes can be cleaned with water it is important that the brushes remain strong and durable and appropriate for painting with thick bodied colour straight from the tube.
However sometimes when oil colour has been thinned it is necessary to have a softer tuft. This is where synthetic fibres also work well. For example with the Synthetic Mongoose hair used in our Monarch brushes, providing a balance between the stiffness of hog and the softness of sable.
* ACRYLIC COLOURS
There is one main benchmark for brushes that are used with thick or viscous colour; the thicker the colour, the stiffer the brush needs to be. A heavier paint like acrylic requires a brush with enough resilience to manipulate the colour with complete control.
However, a colour that has been thinned will need a softer tuft (e.g. soft hair or filament) and a colour that has been thinned to a fluid consistency then needs a brush with flow control (e.g. synthetic or natural hair brush).
Brush characteristics to consider:
Firmness of bristle - Is the bristle capable of moving heavy-bodied colour over the surface with authority?
• Tip control - Does the bristle or hair allow for subtlety in blending? Does it give fine control when creating detail?
• Sturdiness - Will it remain undamaged by prolonged use with water or acrylic resins?
Over the past decades, synthetics have proven superior in making brushes for acrylic colours. With proper manufacturing techniques, they offer good flow control, and a well-defined tip or edge for detail and blending work. They are also resistant to damage from acrylic resin and won't soften in water.
However, it is also common for acrylic painters to use Hog brushes or other natural hair brushes such as Sable depending on the style of their painting and the viscosity of the paint on their palette.
Every water colour brush in the world should do three important things. It's how well these things are done that separates the best from the rest. Here are the three benchmarks that every water colour brush aspires to:
• A great point - The brush should come to a crisp point, an excellent brush will hold that point during use allowing the artist to create edges and fine detail.
• Perfect 'snap' or spring - The brush should spring crisply back into shape during use. The right degree of spring allows the artist to have control with an element of ‘give and take' between the brush and the surface.
• Even flow control - The colour should flow evenly and consistently from the point of the brush and there should be capacity within the belly of the brush to allow the artist to lay down flowing, gestural strokes of colour.
Water colour brushes are generally made from two types of hair:
There are different grades of sable hair, but the very best are the Kolinsky sable from Siberia. The finest Kolinsky is a soft, golden-brown colour that darkens at the tip.
The finest hairs come from the tip of the tail of the male Kolinsky, hairs from other parts of the sable pelt are used in lesser quality brushes. Second quality hairs are much shorter and less "springy" than their counterparts, however they are a little more affordable and still provide a high quality brush.
We also provide a selection of brushes made from superior synthetic filaments. The advantage of these brushes is their affordability, however our many years experience in brush-making mean that we have been able to source synthetic fibres with excellent colour carrying capacity and much improved spring. This makes our synthetic brushes a first choice for many artists
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