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Paint Art Supplies - A Good Paint Brush: A Critical Component of an Artist's Painting Art Supplies

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A great paint brush is one of the most important paint or art supplies an artist will use when working in the mediums of oil, acrylic or watercolor painting. As an artist matures in his or her chosen medium, the correct choice of a high quality paint brush becomes paramount. It is also very important for painters to learn how to care for their brushes properly.

Artist brushes vary in size depending on their use. For very detailed illustrations, it is recommended that an artist use brushes with fine bristles. Paint brushes come generally in three different types. Watercolor brushes are comprised of nylon or sable, brushes for oil painting are made of sable or bristle, and brushes for acrylic painting usually have bristles made out of nylon. The handles are either wood or molded plastic, and the splints are either aluminum, nickel-plated steel or copper.

The first step when choosing a paint brush is to decide whether you need a soft or stiff brush. A fine brush is ideal when you want to do detailed work accurately. A fine bristle brush will also allow you to extend the paint with ease. Larger bristle paint brushes, on the other hand, are better for handling thick paint. This allows you to create large brush marks in the paint that can be easily seen on the canvas, adding texture to your painting. “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, illustrates this technique well.

Many purists will say that paint brushes made of natural hair are always superior to brushes made with synthetic fiber, because of their flexibility and strength. Natural paint brush hair comes from animals, including pigs, camels, squirrels, oxen, goats and horses. If the idea of using the hair of one of these animals makes you uncomfortable, there are plenty of alternatives. Modern synthetic brushes have come a long way and are now much more cost effective than their natural counterparts.

Before venturing into your local paint and art supplies store, the next step in purchasing and caring for your paint brush is to learn a little about the anatomy of a brush. The handle is made of wood or plastic and is called the ferrule. The tip of the paint brush’s bristles is known as the toe. When deciding which brush to use, it is important to know the size of the brush you would like to use.

Many artists use several different sizes of brushes when working on their paintings. The size of a brush can be determined by observing the indicated number imprinted on the side of the handle. The smallest size is 00 followed by 0, 1, 2 and so on. If you are purchasing a brush online, it is important to see a picture of the brush you’re buying. Two brushes of the same size may have a very different effect on your canvas because of the number of bristles and the width of the handle. This problem can be alleviated if you shop at an actual paint or art supplies store or are already familiar with the brand of brush that you prefer.

An artist invests a lot of time and money into acquiring the right brushes, so it makes sense to take care of them well, including proper cleaning after each use. Before you begin cleaning your brushes, make sure you have a mild soap, oil or turpentine and some paper towels or tissues. You will also need warm water and a place to dry your brushes.

First, wipe off any excess paint with a soft cloth or paper. Then, rinse the brushes with turpentine if you are using oils, or warm water if the paint is water-based. Do not use very hot water because hot water can make the bristles of the paint brush fall out. Wash the brush thoroughly with mild soap. Rinse and repeat as many times as necessary, until the brush returns to its original color. Remember to shake off any excess water. If the brush seems misshapen, use your fingers to gently remold the brush head back to its original shape.

Now you are ready to dry your brushes. A good way to store paint brushes is to wrap the bristles in tissue paper or toilet paper while they are wet. When dry, brush bristles will retract and return to their original shape. Dry the brushes at room temperature. Since some of these cleaning materials may be toxic, remember to protect your skin with a pair of gloves. Rubber gloves can be purchased at any paint or art supplies store or even a drugstore or hardware store.

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