How To Choose The Right Paintbrushes

by Cass Art Student Ambassador

It's our START season, and our student ambassadors are using it as a chance to impart their art-enthused wisdom.

Jake Vella is a painter studying at UCA Farnham. He knows that starting to paint can be a daunting task - especially if you're not sure what tools are right for the job. With this in mind, he's written a helpful piece on choosing the perfect brushes to start with - no matter what kind of painting you want to pursue.


Choose The Right Brushes and Start Painting:

My advice for anyone who wants to start painting would be to just do it. Go out and buy yourself some painting supplies and give painting a go. 

Nothing is more important than some good quality brushes to help you get the best out of your painting, and though it may seem confusing at first, brushes will become the most important part of your painting arsenal.

I am basically addicted to brushes, and have been since I started painting 14 years ago. I’ve gone through so many of them over the years that if I didn’t clean out some of the damaged and less useful brushes every so often, I would not be able to store them all.

I’ve learnt that it is important to have a good balance between the price and quality of your brushes. The cheaper the brush, the worse the effect and the greater the chance of brush hairs leaping off the brush constantly and sticking to your painting. However, the cheaper brushes allow you to be less precious and really push them to their limits, which can be an advantage when you're first starting out.

For Oil Painting, you need a wide range of brushes for various ways of applying paint.

Brushes for artists

Firstly and most importantly, you'll need Hog Hair brushes. They are a paintbrush with heavy and rough bristles, which are hard-wearing and allow large quantities of paint to be applied strongly, accentuating brush marks and the painterly qualities of oil paints. Personally I use the Cass Art Hog Set of 6. This is a great set of brushes that cover all the basis of general oil painting, and are a great price, considering their amazing quality!

When it comes to paintbrushes there are many shapes and sizes to choose from, and they all have their own uses. The Cass Art brush set has a nice mix of long handled brushes that will allow you to experiment and discover what they’re all used for. (You get bonus points for finding a way to use a fan brush on something other than clouds or trees!) Personally I used it to blend curves on the body in a particular way.

Lastly, for watercolour or lighter washes, you will need some synthetic brushes. These are used to get a slightly cleaner look and hide brush marks or texture. I tend to use them with thinned out paint or for washes. My synthetic brushes are the Cass Art Synthetic Brush Collection Set of 6. These are an exceptional set of brushes to accompany any painter’s toolkit. I make use of them to create delicate effects and fine detail, however they don’t have the strength of Hog Hair brushes so cannot be used with thick paint. They also need to be taken care of a little more. 

Artist Studio and Paintbrushes 

At the end of the day you need to find the paintbrushes which are right for you, and the sizes that are right for your scale of painting. Since I paint on a very large scale I need brushes all the way from the very small up to relatively large sizes, and a mix between good quality and inexpensive brushes that I can abuse if I need to.

Finally, my main piece of advice for anyone who wants to start painting is to first start looking at the world, and paint it with your own eyes. When I was younger, my teacher would make me stare at a still life for a good few minutes before making a single mark, and after I was done looking, she would ask me to tell her about all the colours I could see. The trick was to find the hidden colours, and you can only do that by really looking. 

All in all, once you're armed with the right brushes and ready to really start looking, you'll be painting in no time.  

Feeling inspired?

Shop our range of paintbrushes here.

Browse our START OIL PAINTING section here and stock up on all your painting supplies.  

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