Oil Painting Brushes for Landscape Painting – Brush Basics Explained

Oil Painting Brushes for Landscape Painting – Brush Basics Explained


It never fails to amaze me
that beginning painters and even those who have quite some experience turn up to oil painting classes with a cheap and motley assortment of mostly the wrong brushes and no idea what would be a
better choice or how to use them. Is that you? There is a huge assortment of
brushes available to the artist. Do you know what you should be using or
anything at all about choosing a brush? Let me show you through the types of brushes
primarily used for landscape painting. Also I’ll show you why you need
them and what each one does. Most brushes have three components. The bristles, a wooden handle and a metal
ferrule to clamp the bristles together and keep them attached to the handle. Bristles can be divided into two
major categories, hard and soft. Hard bristles are tough and springy
and mostly made of hog hair – yep, from the backs of pigs – and the best quality? Chinese, Chungking region pigs. Hog bristle brushes are relatively
inexpensive so there is no reason to use inferior synthetic fibre alternatives. Soft flexible bristles are made from a
variety of animal hairs such as horse, squirrel, goat or ox, but for
professional use, are mostly Sable. Sable is harvested from little
furry creatures called Martens or for the most expensive
quality, Siberian Weasels. There is also a large choice of
synthetic fibre imitation Sable brushes which are a lot cheaper than real Sable
and quite suitable for oil painting. Real Sable is mostly used
for watercolour painting where its qualities are more highly
desired than the inferior synthetics. So, for oil painting we are going to
use good quality Hog bristle brushes. The Hog bristles for the bulk of the work, and a few specialist imitation Sable
brushes for the more delicate tasks. The wooden handles are tapered for balance. They will have a series, size
and style imprinted on them. They are always a bit fatter behind the ferrule
so that you can hold a bunch of them together without the wet ends touching. Well… thats the theory! And one more thing. Oil painting brushes have long handles so
that you can stand back from the painting to see the overview whilst still
being able to apply paint. Short handled artists’ brushes are for close
detail work, designers, and water-colourists. Artists’ manufacturers make several series
of brushes at different price points. Buy brushes from the best
series that you can afford. Cheap brushes don’t hold their shape, lose bristles which stick in
the surface of your painting, and limit your ability to manoeuvre the
brush to make the exact strokes you want. This may not seem important to you when
starting out and its true that the cheap and nasties do an adequate job
when finesse is not required. But as you progress, your skill at
manipulating the brush should get higher, faster, more sophisticated and intricate. The brush becomes a free moving
extension of your thought processes, not just an unfamiliar object that you
are holding awkwardly in your hand. The amateur painter can restrict that skill
development by never having the proper tools. Buy good brushes, enjoy using them and
their superior mark making capability and look after them! For oil painting we are concerned
with just five basic brush shapes. The Flat brush is flat, has
long bristles and a square end. The long bristles flex without
digging into the paint too much. It allows us to make broad strokes
and cover large areas quickly. The flex of the long bristles also means we
can use it for blending two areas together to create a smooth transition. Use the edge for thin lines. The Bright brush is also flat, but
with short bristles and a square end. The shorter bristles are good
for pushing thick paint around and scrubbing paint into the canvas texture. It makes good short thick strokes
that hold the brush marks. Use the edge for thin lines. The Round brush is round and has
long bristles that taper to a point. Useful for painting calligraphically or
describing tree branches and thinner elements. Varying pressure creates
different thicknesses of stroke. The Filbert is flat with long
bristles that are rounded at the end. It’s a cross between a Flat and a Round
and can perform most tasks of both. It’s very useful for covering larger areas
that may include some finer brushwork within where the rounded tip can be
used for tapered strokes. The Filbert creates a softer blend due to there
being no sharp corners at the end of the bristles. The Fan is flat with a wide arc of long bristles. Soft bristle versions are used almost exclusively
for fine blending and removing brush marks. Hog versions can be used for blending but are
more useful for creating groups of parallel marks in a single stroke. These can be used to describe masses
of twigs, or grass for instance. So now you know what artists’
brushes are made of, and we’ve had a look at the
types used in oil painting. In the next video I will
show you my recommendation for a 12 brush basic landscape starter set. See you then.

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