How to look after your paint brushes

Buy the best paint brush you can afford then…

1. Never rest your brush on the bristles

2. Don’t leave paint brushes in water/liquid

3. Clean your paint brush when finished

How do you clean acrylic paint brushes?

Wash your brushes with warm soapy water, rubbing it in circles on the palm of your hand. Rinse well, squeeze it dry, and then re-shape the brush. Let your brush dry flat.

How do you clean oil paint brushes?

Dry the brush with a clean rag. When you have finished painting for the day clean the brushes with citrus thinner. Dry then on a cloth. Then clean them again with soap and water until the foam from the soap is white. See this guide for more information which includes some pictures

4. Always reshape your brush once clean

5. Never pull on the bristles

Choosing a Paint Brush

Paint brushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and costs. The main types of brushes are china bristle, soft hair, and synthetic bristle:

China Bristle Brushes

China bristle brushes, also called hog bristle or Chungking bristle, are made from natural pig hair. They are tough, durable brushes, able to stand up to the oil while still cleaning up nicely. They can hold a lot of paint, making them ideal for alla prima painting or impasto.

Soft Hair Brushes

Soft hair brushes are made from Kolinsky sable or ox hair, or more rarely squirrel, pony, goat, mongoose or badger. Soft hair brushes are much softer than china bristles, and a lot more expensive. It’s not unheard of to pay several hundred dollars for a large sable brush. But for more delicate work, like blending and glazing, soft hair brushes are indispensable.

Synthetic Bristle Brushes

For quality and affordability, you can’t go wrong with synthetic bristle brushes. Though turpentine or thinners used in oil painting can destroy some types of synthetic brushes, recent innovations in synthetic bristle technology have produced solvent resistant brushes.

Brush Shapes

Paint brushes come in several shapes and are designed to apply the paint in specific ways.

  • Flat – Designed to spread paint quickly and evenly to an area.
  • Bright – Similar to a flat brush, but with short, stiff bristles. Great for impasto work.
  • Round – Long, closely arranged bristles used for drawing or detail work.
  • Filbert – These almond-shaped brushes offer good coverage and the ability to perform some detail work
  • Fan Brush – Used for blending broad areas and creating different textures.
  • Liner Brush – Used for lettering and fine detail work.

Brush Sizes

Brushes are sized by numbers based on the width of the brush at the metal sleeve, or ferrule, which holds the bristles in place.  The sizes you choose will be dependent on whether you are painting a large canvas or a very small one and are all up to personal preference.


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