Build and Develop Your Creativity Quotient!
Painting and other creative art activities are what I highly recommend to build your creativity quotient. We all know about intelligence quotient, don't we? Well, the CQ or creativity quotient is often overlooked in education, and so important to helping us to attract what we want into our lives, so that we can design the life we want to be living.
There are so many options out there. Walking into an art store or shopping online can be almost dizzying with all the choices. Have you felt that way? Do you find the number of options almost paralyzing sometimes?
I thought I would simplify selecting your best starter acrylic paint brush set a bit for you.
Then when you are ready to move up to something better, I suggest getting individual brushes from this line. Below you will find descriptions of the types of brushes. You are going to love having longer handled ones as you progress. The basic set is fine for real beginners and for kids while they are learning to take care of their brushes, but you will want finer and better ones very soon.
The brush is composed of three parts: bristles, ferrule and handle. Paint brush bristles have traditionally been made of animal hair. Watercolor brushes are the softest, so they will hold the water. Sables are made of mink hair, and due to the rarity, are the most expensive. They are very soft. Another soft one is squirrel.
Stiffer animal hair brushes are good for oil applications. A stiffer brush is made from hog or pig hair. Occasionally you will see camel-hair brushes, which are never made of camel-hair. They are generally made of ox hair but can also be pony or goat or badger hair.
With the invention of plastic, we gained synthetic brushes, some of which also have animal hair and some which are completely synthetic. These are generally very useful for your acrylic painting, and are less costly than the animal hair options. The bristles can be long or short, with short giving more control for detail and long having more flexibility. The bristles have a tip or toe and a belly.
The silvery part of the brush is called the ferrule, and has a heel which holds the bristles tightly, and the crimp which attaches the bristles to the handle. Either wood or plastic is used to make the handle of the brush. The wood can be hardwood that has been finished (more costly) or less costly unfinished wood as alternatives.
The first brush I use on a painting is to put on the under-painting. I sketch out what my painting is going to look like, with the major shapes. And then for a 9″x12″ to 16″x20″ painting, I use a 1 inch long-handled flat brush to apply a thin coat of a predominant color for that shape. I do not do larger pieces at this point, but if I were to, I would use a wider one.
For the undercoating for a fairly realistic painting, for instance, if it is a tree in full leaf, then I will apply a grayish brown shade to the trunk area, and then a green shade to the leaf area. Let's say there are rocks on the ground, I will paint them gray or brown or an orange or reddish color.
UNLESS I want to break out of any realism and make more of a fantasy or abstract scene, then I may make them purple or turquoise. The lines and precision are not important at this point. I just paint it on. Later I will be using other brushes to give it definition and layer on other colors. You will be able to see the drawing under the paint still, because you will be using acrylic paint thinned with either water or, my preference, a gel medium.
Two of my favorite brushes, for most of my acrylic painting, are my filbert and my slant. A filbert has a feathered tip. It is a cross between a flat brush and a pointed one. Brush sizes vary from company to company, but one thing is consistent: the bigger the number, the wider the brush. My filbert is a bit under 1/2 ” wide, or 10 mm, and the bristles are about 3/4″ or 20 mm long.
My slant brush is great for edging, rounded shapes and using the stiff point. It is really a flat with an angle. Mine is about 1/3″ wide or 8mm and the bristles are about 1/2 inch long or 10 mm.
The best acrylic paint brush set is rounded out with a small round detail brush, for fine work and a rigger brush, for fine lines. The bristles on the round detail brush are about a half-inch long (12mm) and about 1/8″ wide or 7 mm. A round brush has a point for detail work, and a belly to hold the paint.
The rigger brush is also narrow, but the bristles are about an inch long. It was traditionally used to draw rigging in ships, and can be used for any longer narrow shapes like leaves or hair or tree limbs.
What about the paints themselves? Read about acrylic paints here.
Size and Shape
Your choices will depend on the size of your painting, the medium (in this discussion acrylic paints), the texture you want to produce and the shapes you will be painting.
You will want wider flat ones for big strokes like under-painting, or blocking in areas. For most acrylic painting, synthetic brushes work best.
If you want a smooth appearance, you will be thinning your acrylics so you may want to gravitate toward softer brush selections that will hold more water or liquid. If you want more texture, the stiffer brushes will work best and hold more paint.
Narrower brushes work well for fine detail, while wider ones will be best for broader areas of application. You will choose a longer handle for standing at an easel, and shorter handles for either detail or working flat on a table or on the floor, as with watercolors.
Care and Cleaning of Your Acrylic Brush Set
Your brushes will become like friends to you as you use them. You will get to know their idiosyncrasies and their strengths. They are not high-maintenance friends, but they do need some basic care.
Clean up is easy and important. Acrylic paints are plastics. They do not smell. They do not require special solvents or equipment. BUT the paint dries fast.
While using your brush you need to keep water nearby and watch to make sure your tool does not dry by washing it immediately by using soap and water, and rinsing thoroughly before picking up your next brush.
If you are not done with a brush, keep an eye on it and keep it wet with water. Do not leave the bristles in the jar of water though, because the bristles will get spread and lose their shape, never to be restored. Even if it is a stiff brush.
If you allow the paint to dry on your brush, it will be ruined, and not able to be restored. Know that some staining of the bristles is normal and will not affect your painting.
When you dip your brush in paint, be careful not to get paint on the ferrule. No matter how well you try to clean, some of the paint will remain between the bristles under the ferrule and force the bristles apart, forever changing the shape of the brush.
Have At It!
Now that buying your brushes for acrylic painting is not so overwhelming, go for it. And be sure to let me know what you decided and how your artwork is coming.
P.S. PLEASE expand your creative outlets.
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