Oil Painting Brushes

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.
Hog 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.
Sable 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.
Synthetic High quality synthetic fibres are especially good if the brushes come into contact with water. As with The Winsor & Newton 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.


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