Best Oil Paint Brushes and the Brands I Love Most
These are the best oil paint brushes and the brands I trust! I always loved oil painting, and never minded the few disadvantages, like the smell, or the need to carefully handle chemicals. I got to take my first lessons when I was about 15. That’s quite awhile back …I remember the process of picking out materials like it was yesterday, and the needs for what you’re going to paint with have not changed.
I was fortunate in that I got expert advice from a qualified instructor who lived right in town and held lessons at this local craft supply store. These were great times, just like the days of elementary school watercolor lessons.
Should You Go For Synthetic or Animal Hair Bristle Brushes For Oil Painting?
In my earlier post, I encouraged you to seek out synthetic brushes for acrylics, but now, we’re going to look at oil painting. Oil paints are thicker,and a little can go a long way. You need brushes with stiffer bristles to handle the amount of blending, detailing and mixing you’ll be doing.
In other words, something softer like nylon may not cut the mustard. Brush selection for oils is a whole other animal, pun intended! (And I say that, because we are actually talking about animal hair bristles 😁 .)
I was taught that the best are made from Russian sable. They are top notch quality, but you may run into “sticker shock” as a result of that top notchness. There’s a lot to be said for the other animal hair types, including hog, squirrel, badger, weasel, etc. But don’t base it only on the animal, base it on the quality!
Which Types and Sizes?
For this, focus on the wide, Filberts, rounds; in addition, you should have one fan brush and one liner. Two other types include:
Mop Brush: It looks pretty much like a makeup brush used to apply cheek blusher. I had one I used sparingly in the case of delicate blending where you have to go ever so slightly across the canvas surface to create a subtle impression – the way water reflections look in a lake or pond; as far as a subject example goes.
Wide Brush: very reminiscent of those used in household painting. If you ever watched the show The Joy of Painting, this was the brush that Bob Ross famously would “beat the devil out of” on the side of his easel to rid the excess turp. In Bob’s defense, and my experience, yes, those wider brushes can be harder to clean unless you’ve got a good plan like this one .
Although I realize it has been awhile since I was shopping for brushes, one day of research, and these brands I have always been a stalwart for, are still every bit as praised. Let’s take a look at them now:
Windsor and Newton 5 Piece Set Made From Hog Bristles
This one is very similar to one of the first ones I owned, it includes a Filbert, a fan, a round and two flat/wide types. The corrosion-resistant ferrules are well made. A nice deal, good price, and you get the most essential brush types in the lot to get started working.
The set includes a Filbert size 6, Round 6, Flat 6, a Fan 3, and a Bright 8.The “Bright” has the widest bristles.There is also a pack of 3 set, which I might normally recommend in addition except that it contains the same size Filbert as this one. Resilient hog hair bristles have good snap and the right amount of stiffness to do great work
The other important brush types, such as the mop, and a few others, are sold separately.
Grumbacher Academy Hog Bristle – Set of 3
I have owned at least two or three brush sets by this name in my lifetime and all have served me well. In this starter set you get three that are important types and that include one flat type brush size 12, a Filbert 10 and Bright (the widest) 12.
There looks like an option to also include another similar pack that has the round brushes which you will also need later. Long blue handles and nickel plated brass ferrules look sharp and will keep their shape.
Loew-Cornell Camel Sable Set of 4
This set of four includes three rounds , sizes 1, 3, and 5, and a flat type size 10.
Sometimes it is better (cost-wise, anyway) to find brushes in a pack rather than individually…I know that at the time I most likely bought brushes individually based on the criteria above. If you can find a pack of three or four in a particular type, that can be even better. Not all quality brushes are carried in multiples, but some deep digging was able to reveal the best ones.