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What to choose brushes for oil painting?

The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to the artist and his attributes is brushes and paints. About what paints are and how to choose them is written in the article “How to choose the best paints for oil painting.” But what are brushes for oil paints?

Having come to an art store, you saw a huge abundance of brushes, which differ in size, shape and composition.
First of all, let’s figure out what kind of brushes are in composition.


bristle brushes

– the most common and most often used by artists. Such brushes are made from pig bristles and are considered one of the best for oil painting. The bristles paint well and make good styling on the canvas. Making bristles is a rather complicated process. They boil it, bleach it and get rid of the forked tips (in the old days, artists cauterized, and in Soviet times they brushed the bristles to get rid of those tips that prevent the brushes from painting well)


brushes from a kolinsky

kolinsky – a small predatory animal similar to a ferret. Such brushes, like bristles, are natural, and are widely used in watercolor and oil painting. Column brushes are more often used by artists who paint with thin, thin layers. Column brushes give a soft thin smear, which is ideal for portraits and detailed registration of all the smallest details in the picture. Art brushes made from a column will last long if you use fine-grained canvas. But on a medium-grained canvas, the pile of the brush is frayed faster. For dry work, natural brushes from a column are also suitable.


synthetic brushes

There are various rumors and different reviews about synthetic brushes for oil paint. But with the advent of good brushes with synthetic bristles, beginners are increasingly less likely to use bristle brushes. Good brushes made of synthetics can be no worse than natural ones. Synthetics are now available with different pile thicknesses, which makes it possible to choose brushes depending on the task. The thick pile of synthetic brushes is suitable for painting and quick painting – “alla prima” (as well as bristle brushes). A thin pile in synthetic brushes is similar to natural brushes from a kolinsky. And with such brushes you can write thin-layer paintings.

Synthetic brushes have both advantages and disadvantages over bristles and core brushes. No pile falls out of them. They are easier to care for (thinners, tees and linseed oil have different effects on natural brushes). They last longer and are suitable for canvas with any grain size. Some synthetic brushes can lose shape and become fluffy over time. But the Internet is full of examples of how to get rid of this and restore the shape of the brush.


Squirrel brushes are not used in oil painting, at least not widely used. Some artists use such brushes for easy shading of paint. But this is a matter of personal preference and habit. Squirrel brushes are ideal for watercolor painting, and when working with oil very quickly become unusable.

Art brushes are one of the main tools in the hands of the artist. But even more important is the artist’s ability to use and care for them.

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2 thoughts on “What to choose brushes for oil painting?”

  1. I asked the question “what would happen if I added red paint to mauve paint, what color would it turn out to be”? Do you have the answer ? Please.

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