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Beginner's Guide to Art Supplies

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The Right Brush for the Job

Congratulations, Rembrandt--you’ve chosen to become a painter!  As your imagination generates its whirlwind of ideas, one question rises concerning your painting battle of execution:  how will you pick your weapon?  Choosing the right paintbrush is a crucial step in order to create a successful masterpiece. 

It is a better use of money to buy a couple of individual brushes instead of a package of mixed sizes.  Expensive brushes made out of natural fibers, never synthetic, are always the safest choice.  The bristles on cheap paintbrushes can easily fall out of the feral and cling to your finished painting.  Natural fibers are intended to be resilient; returning to their natural position after being cleaned, and allowing the artist to have maximum control of the brush.

Medium is the next factor a new artist should consider when perusing the art supplies aisle.  Most stores make shopping a no brainer by listing each brush accordingly, whether it is most appropriate for watercolor, acrylic, or oil paint.  Brushes intended for watercolor are always soft and flexible.  This feature is necessary in order to paint soft and fluid strokes.  Acrylic brushes vary between soft and hard bristle.  It is recommended that an artist try both and go with his or her preference.  A hard bristle brush can offer more control if the painter chooses to wipe the brush on a paint rag and be careful to keep water away from the metal feral.  If an acrylic painter prefers to swish a dirty brush in a cup of water, a soft bristle brush is recommended in order to avoid the heartbreak of watching hard bristle ends fray outwards like an old dust broom.  Choosing an oil paintbrush is the one time when an artist may break the rule concerning how much the paintbrush costs.  Oil paint is difficult to wash out of a brush and can easily ruin the paintbrush after one use.  Some oil painters purchase multiple cheap brushes made out of natural fibers and throw them out after one or two uses.  Others use mineral turpentine to clean an expensive oil brush.

The size and shape of a paintbrush can affect the final painting.  Large brushes should be used for the first few washes as the painting is built up in layers.  Medium brushes should be used for the majority of the painting.  Size numbers can vary depending on the brand and style, however, your medium brushes should be the width of one to two fingers.  Small paintbrushes should not be purchased by a beginning artist because a person can learn more about how to paint when forced to use bristles with substance.

If an artist only buys one paint brush, the best choice is a medium bright.  A bright resembles a square and works well for most painting situations.  Other favorites are a flat brush, resembling a rectangle, and a filbert; a flat brush with a rounded edge.  A round brush is usually thin and pointy and is better left to an experienced artist who knows how to use it correctly.  Fancy brushes such as a fan or an angled brush can be fun to experiment with but are not needed for the first purchase.

No matter where the advice comes from, it is sometimes best for an artist to experiment with different brushes and choose his or her own preference.  What works for one artist can be a nightmare for another.  Always remember to wash your paintbrushes with soap and water, using back and forth strokes across your hand until the paint disappears.  Go ahead and squeeze the paint onto your palette and have fun painting!

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