The Best Oil Painting Brushes

An artist is only as good as the tools that they work with and finding those tools can be tricky. When you walk into an art supply shop there are rows upon rows of brushes, easels, art supplies, and even more to tempt you, and you need to find the right ones that should work for you. If you are working with oil-based paint, you might have an even bigger headache.

Picking the best art supplies doesn’t have to be a huge chore. Instead of rummaging around the aisles at the craft store and making some tough decisions, you can look at some of the best oil painting brushes that are on offer today!

Do I Need A Specific Brush For Oil?

Yes, you do. If you are painting with oil-based paint, you need a brush that is designed to handle the paint’s specific properties. Brushes meant for oil painting are made to withstand oil, so you do need a specific brush. Make sure that you are buying brushes meant for oil-based paints because even though you can use acrylic and watercolor-designed paints with oil-designed brushes, you could damage them.

The Art Advantage Brush Set

This art set isn’t just about painting on oil, and instead, it is a brush set that can give you an advantage over other artists. It comes with 24 brushes and a canvas brush roll up for easy storage. All of the brushes are long handled and have either synthetic or natural bristles, letting you paint on just about anything.

The brushes are perfect for oil-based paint, and they are extremely durable and should last you through many uses. Each of the 24 brushes can help you improve your painting, and the roll keeps everything organized. This brush set is perfect for beginner artists, and artists who are looking for an all in one tool kit.

Pros

  • A reasonably priced paint brush set
  • Usable across several different mediums
  • Easy Storage with the included case

Cons

  • Not the best for experts or professional artists
  • Do not last as long as some competitors

Mont Marte Art Paint Brushes

The set of 15 paintbrushes range in size from 3/0 to 12, giving you smaller brushes for extremely detailed work, and broadhead brushes for larger sweeps of the brush. The brushes are all set in black and gold and are very durable for their price point. You should be able to find a brush for every single painting scenario, and they can work just fine with both acrylic and oil-based paint.

They arrive in perfect quality. The soft bristles are a godsend, especially if you are an artist who is used to dealing with harder bristles that don’t respond to you. These brushes both look and feel good, so don’t be afraid to give them a go.

Pros

  • Comes with 15 brushes in an affordable set
  • Easy to wash
  • The bristles of the brushes remain soft with proper care

Cons

  • Bristles can fall out
  • Better for beginners and not professional artists

Princeton Artist Brush 4 Piece Set

This Princeton artist brush set is a dream come true for any medium to heavy body paints because they are able to move the paint with ease. The quality of the synthetic bristles and how they strive to replicate real bristles is very admirable. They hold a higher volume of paint compared to the other brushes. This is thanks to a split at each end of the synthetic fiber that still allows for a good flow.

The bristles also become far more durable whenever they are exposed to water. How they respond as you paint makes it feel like the brush is a true extension of your arm. This four piece kit is a perfect addition to any oil-based painter’s arsenal.

Pros

  • Bristles are very durable
  • Good choice for students and experts
  • They have split tips at the end

Cons

  • Brushes can lose their shape if you scumble.

The Winsor & Newton Winton Long Handle Brush Set

This kit contains five paintbrushes that were specifically designed to be used with oil-based paints. All five of the brushes are superbly built, with bristles made from Chinese hogs that are fashioned to corrosion-resistant ferrules. The bristles also retain a nice curve during use and also are coated with four coats of lacquer to improve their look and durability.

While they aren’t professional artist grade brushes, they are still very affordable and are designed to help you paint with your oil-based paints. Plus, you won’t have to worry about them falling apart anytime soon.

Pros

  • Very well designed for beginners
  • Very Affordable
  • Durable and high quality

Cons

  • Not meant for professional artists and experts

Nicpro Detail Paint Brush Set

These paint brushes are not only well priced, but they also touch on one of the things that an artist needs when painting with oil. All of these brushes have very minute bristles, which allows you to get very fine detail on your paintings. Almost all oil-based paintings have some level of small details inside of them, and these brushes are the best way for you to paint those details in.

The handles are also very comfortable to use, so you should enjoy holding them and painting in all the details that your paintings require. They also come with several accessories, including a carrying bag.

Pros

  • Affordable for the quality
  • Very fine bristles
  • The handle is easy to hold

Cons

  • No cons to note here!

Grumbacher Academy Oil & Acrylic Brush

This next set of brushes is the best for students and beginners to the hobby of painting. They are made of nylon synthetic fibers, giving plenty of extra durability for oil-based painting. It’s very easy to hold the paintbrush in your hand and just start letting it glide over the canvas or surface you are painting on. The thicker middle of the brush also allows it to pick up more paint

The design of the brushes is also very ergonomic as well, with the center of the brush expanding to provide a comfortable grip for detailed work. You should not be feeling any hand fatigue as you paint the details on your next masterpiece!

Pros

  • Can be used with Oil and Acrylic
  • Ergonomically designed with a long handle and oversized center
  • Made for beginners

Cons

  • Available in limited varieties

Amagic Set of Anti-shedding Fan Brushes

These six brushes are known as fan brushes, and they are extensively used in oil painting. For the very affordable price point, they have a lot of value for a new or advanced artist. First, each brush is a different size, with sizes going from 2-12. Each size gives you extreme versatility when it comes to painting with watercolor, allowing you to paint broad strokes while also showcasing your detail skills.

These paint brushes allow you to paint detailed movements with oil-based paint, and they are suitable for drafting, drawing, and crushing. The ergonomic handles are also designed to help the brush glide across the canvas, while also keeping your hand comfortable as you paint. You can have consistent paint strokes every single time, and every artist knows the importance of that!

The natural hog bristle brushes are not only all-natural, but they also come with high quality aluminum crimped ferrules that keep them durable. You won’t need to worry about these brushes falling out or loosening for quite a long time. After the painting is done and the brushes have been cleaned, simply place them in some hot water and clean them again after use.

Pros

  • Hog bristle brushes do not shed
  • Fan brushes are perfect for oil painting
  • Affordable for the quality

Cons

  • The brushes can be hard to wash
  • Aren’t the most durable for long term use

Da Vinci Maestro Oil Series

In both the art world and the world of paintbrushes the name of da Vinci gives people pause. The da Vinci oil series of brushes gives you the highest quality brushes, as they have been doing for the past 110 years. All these brushes are handmade from sustainable wood in Germany. The brushes are made from sable hair that can easily retain paint and is durable enough to keep holding a point.

The brushes have a wide array of shapes and sizes to choose from. The da Vinci brushes are always pushing the boundary to get you the best paintbrush possible. If you want to get a set of da Vinci brushes for yourself, make sure to buy the Maestro line. The Maestro series is designed to work with oil-based paints, and they come in seven different varieties.

Pros

  • The best of the best
  • Kolinsky Sable bristles
  • Several sizes to pick from

Cons

  • They have a premium price

Princeton Catalyst Polytip

If you can’t afford a brush with natural sable hair, then this brush is a close second. While the hair is synthetic, the company Princeton has designed this brush to almost perfectly mimic the natural fibers found in a sable brush. They split each of the fibers at the end, allowing for the brush to carry a much heavier load of oil based paint.  This also goes a long way towards improving the flow of the painting as well.

You can find these brushes ranging in size from 00 to 24, and they are inexpensive for the high quality that they give you. If you aren’t quite ready to try and buy a natural sable haired brush, then this is the second best option for you.

Pros

  • Split end fibers
  • Very Affordable
  • Several different options

Cons

  • Not quite artist grade

Silver Brush Starter Set

The Silver Brush Starter Set is so much more than a starter set for artists looking to make their mark on the world. It’s a set of brushes that works with all the painting mediums you could ever want to try, including acrylic, oil-based, and watercolor. The paint brushes are also made with a stiff fiber that allows you to have better control over your painting. Even though the brush is labeled as a starter set, it is a pretty advanced kit that can become part of any artist’s arsenal.

There are six different brushes in the kit, and you can have a lot of options for your stroke work. They hold their shape quite well after repeated use and are also very ergonomic to prevent hand fatigue. If you are looking for brushes that can allow you to paint with oil-based paints and brushes that are still very durable after several uses, these are the best ones.

Pros

  • Stiff and springy bristles
  • Perfect for everyone
  • Ergonomically designed for comfort

Cons

  • The brushes are expensive

How To Buy Oil Paint Brushes

Price isn’t the most important thing when it comes to dealing with oil paint brushes. There’s a reason why you need to purchase brushes specifically for oil-based paints. A quick buyer’s guide can help you figure out what the best type of oil paint brushes work the best for you.

First, you need to look for the ‘spring’ of the brush. Whenever you drag the brush across a canvas or other surface, you need to see if the brush remains flexible and responds to your movement. It should give a little, but not enough to remove the weight of the brush stroke. A good brush should also hold its shape, so the hairs do not spread out over repeated use.

Examining the Parts of a Paintbrush

Each of the three parts of a paintbrush are important, especially whenever you are looking at having an oil-based paint brush. The three parts of a brush are the bristles, the ferrule, and the handle.

The bristles are very important since they are what moves the paint around. There are two types of bristles you can use, natural and synthetic. The natural bristles are either made from hog’s hair, which is very durable and doesn’t shed, or softer sable (natural hair). Synthetic bristles are just as good, and they are also less expensive than using natural hairs. It really comes down to artist preference, though some people claim natural brushes work differently than synthetic ones.

The ferrule is the metal band that connects the bristles to the handle of your paintbrush, and it should be very durable and free from paint. Whenever you put the bristles into the paint, you shouldn’t cover the ferrule with paint, as it dries onto the ferrule and then gets into the bristles.

Then you risk damaging your brush, and that causes a lot of other problems. The ferrule should be very durable, and you want to test its hold on the bristles before you purchase the brush. Only buy the highest quality paint brushes, as it will certainly make a difference in your work.

Finally, the handle of the brush is also important. The handles can be of varying lengths and either made from wood or plastic, and you should make sure that the handle is ergonomically designed. An ergonomic handle doesn’t just have the painting purpose in mind, but they are also designed for the comfort of the artist as well.

Different Types Of Paint Brush Bristles

The biggest differences between brushes are the different types of bristles that exist. The stiffer hog hair brushes are designed to grab more paint with every single stroke. If you want to paint long and thick brush strokes, then a bristle brush is right for you.

Sable brushes are softer and primarily made from weasel fur, since that is what sables are, and they are the best for softer finer details. If you need to have smoother blending, then a sable brush is a good idea.  Even a synthetic brush can be used as a sable brush, and they are the best for oil-based painting.

The Shapes Of The Brush

One thing that you need to keep in mind whenever you buy brushes is the brush shape. There are several types of brush shapes, and all of them are useful for certain types of painting.

One of the most common brushes is the round brush, where the bristles are pushed into a rounded point. The strokes do not vary, but that’s often what you need when you start painting details. These round brushes might not be too versatile, but the larger ones do work the best with oil-based paints.

Flat brushes are long and flat, and the long brush hairs carry more paint. Flat brushes are perfect for longer brush strokes and creating both smooth edges and large sweeping strokes. They are very versatile and can be used both at the beginning and the end of your paint job.

Filberts are rounded brushes that combine the benefits of both flat brushes and rounded sides. The filberts create soft edges and easier blends, and they are very versatile. Many artists swear by these brushes as their favorites.

The Brush Sizes

Brush sizes are varied, going from size 0 and less up to size 24, and you need a variety of different brushes to make a masterpiece. For oil-based painting, large bristle brushes are best for broad areas. The mid-sized brushes can be used for some detail if they have sharp edges, and your smallest brushes are the best for the very fine details.

You need to have a collection of different brushes for your painting needs, and a starter kit often comes with four to six brushes that you need for your painting. Once you get comfortable with using the starter’s kit, you can expand into new brushes and improve your skills.

How to Clean your Oil Painting Brushes

Once you have all of your brushes and have started painting with them, you need to figure out how to clean and maintain them. Paintbrushes are very delicate, and it doesn’t take much for the bristles to get bent out of shape and ruin the paintbrush forever. Make sure to gently wash your brushes in warm soapy water and try to get all the wet paint out.

If you are using oil-based paints, then you need to wash them with either mineral spirits or turpentine as cleaning with water does not work. You can also use a paint thinning solvent to remove any oil-based paint, although the removal is messy, so make sure to clean the paint brushes outdoors.

No matter what type of paint you use, or how you clean your brushes, you need to store them in a dry place and make sure that they are dry. If you store wet brushes, there is a risk that the bristles get damaged. You can wrap the paintbrushes in a paper towel and leave them to dry overnight.

Final Thoughts

The best part of having an oil painting brush is the ability to take advantage of all of the benefits oil-based painting provides for you. If you know where to look and what to look for in oil-based paint brushes, then you should be able to find the perfect product that can meet your needs.

Once you have the best oil painting brush in your possession, you can start painting your next oil-based masterpiece. With the right tools, who knows what you are able to create!

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