Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
How I've created over 300 YouTube videos on mixed media art and drawing, and NEVER once made a video about paint brushes is BEYOND me!! The artist brush you use actually DOES affect your work- so much so, that it can make or break your piece.
Sometimes people think it's them, when in fact their skills are GREAT- they're just using the wrong brush, and THAT is why they're struggling with a piece of art. Your paintbrushes are equally as important as the paper or substrate you're working on. They make a difference, and should be thought of as an investment. BUT, as you know when you're working with me- you don't have to spend a ton on supplies. I'll demo both my favorite artist grade brushes that are more expensive, as well as my favorites that are less so.
In the world of mixed media art, there are art supplies that dissolve or melt when water is added, and those that do not. Art supplies that don't dissolve when water is added, are called non water-soluble art supplies. A great examples of a non water-soluble art supply is acrylic paint! This is the first type of brushes I'll be demo-ing for you in today's video.
Even though I've got a GIANT stash of acrylic brushes, there are really only a couple of favorites I always reach for. I love my Princeton Artist Brushes for acrylic painting, in either the "bright" or "filbert" cut.
The bright cut (shown below) has a really flat top (that's typically what I call it - a "flat" brush), and it's great for getting into a squared corner, or making straight lines. I rarely use a round brush because I can't get edges or straight lines with one of those the way that I can with a bright.
I also love the filbert cut as well, see below. I like my acrylic brushes to be super stiff with coarse, short hair. The stiffer, the better! I feel like when you're blending wet on wet, or wet on dry - you need your brush to be able to move around and "be the boss" of your paint! If the brush is too soft - you can't get anything accomplished! LOL!!
Depending on how big you like to work - you may also want to pick up a larger size of the cut you like working with. I used to paint a lot of murals, so I have some huge brushes left over from those days!
Watercolor brushes are a totally different animal, and the second paint brush type I'm covering today. In addition to traditional watercolors, I use these artist brushes for working with any of my water-soluble art supplies. If an art supply is water-soluble, that means the marks you make with that product dissolve or melt once water is added. I LOVE water-soluble art supplies!
Some of my favorites include watercolor markers, watercolor pencils, fountain pen inks, AND my all time fave - the black stabilo all pencil!! Every time I'm doing a mixed media project with water-soluble art supplies, I reach for one of my watercolor brushes. These brushes act like a sponge and are very absorbent. If the brush is absorbent, it's easier to control.
I LOVE Silver Black Velvet brushes for working with my watercolors, and water-soluble art supplies. They're super absorbent, and I've slowly added to my collection of them over the years. The round brush is the most common cut and what I typically reach for. I also have some other fun shapes like the dagger and the flat (bright) to do crisp edge lines, if that is a look I'm going for.
I've also really enjoyed working with some brushes by Creative Mark that Jerry's Artarama sent me. They're fantastic and a much less expensive option when it comes to watercolor brushes. These also have a slightly different cut from my black velvet brushes, as you can see below (left is a brush by Creative Mark). Even though these are both considered "round brushes," their tiny variations can produce unique effects for me, so I love using BOTH of them!!
Lastly, I have decided to talk about a third category of brushes because of one art supply in particular that I use ALL the time as a mixed media artist, gesso!
Gesso is super fun to work with, but it will do a serious number on your paint brushes. If you decide to invest in any nice acrylic or watercolor brushes, make sure they're set aside so you don't accidentally grab one when you want to work with gesso. In fact, just set one acrylic paint brush aside that you use dedicate specifically FOR GESSO in our projects together!
My preference for a gesso brush is a bright/flat, very stiff, coarse brush with short bristles. I like to grind just a bit of my gesso onto the first layer of a lot of my mixed media portraits, and I need my brush to be super dry for this wet on dry application.
Make sure you go watch the video so you can see exactly what I'm talking about in today's post!
I hope you found this helpful!! If you feel like you're having a tough time blending or shading while you're painting in acrylics or watercolor - consider changing up your brushes. You might be surprised to learn THAT is the problem, NOT YOU!!
Thanks for watching!! See you next week!!
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Founder of Awesome Art School. Mixed Media Artist. Author of 18 Instructional Art Books!
"Karen is flipping hilarious and she's very real...I like the way she teaches in a way that really gives you confidence, whether you're a beginner or advanced there's always something new to learn!"
- Elizabeth W.
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