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Brushes

On This Page:
- Natural Hog Brushes
- Natural Soft Hair Brushes
- Synthetic Brushes
- Brush Information
Other Chapters:
- We Know Colour
- Winsor & Newton Oil Products
- Technical Information - Colour
- Solvents, Oils, Mediums & Varnishes
- Brushes
- Applications, Techniques & Tips


Fine brushes can make a remarkable difference, ensuring that the painter is able to get the
most from the working properties of the colour.

Just as the quality of the colour will have a profound effect upon the quality of your finished art, so too, will the brushes you select make a very real difference in your painting process. Different brushes offer specific qualities that are better suited to different media and applications. Selection of the correct brush will go a long way in helping the artist explore a particular technique with success.

Natural Hog Brushes

Because of the thicker nature of the colour and the roughness of the canvas, natural hog brushes are ideal for oils. The best quality hog is uniform in flexibility and has a tendency to “flag”, or split, at the end of the hair. Flagged ends are desirable in that they allow heavy colour to be moved about the surface with greater consistency and control. The very best hog brushes have been assembled to take advantage of the slight curl that comes with hog hair, cupping them so the bristles curve inward and naturally interlock. Interlocked bristles ensure that the brush holds its shape, and provide control that is dramatically superior to brushes made with lesser quality bristles. Hog bristles hold up well to solvent, but tend to soften and lose spring when immersed in water. Examples of natural hog bristle brushes are:

Artists’ Hog and Rathbone. Artists’ Hog brushes (USA named Rathbone) are made from the finest hog available. Each brush has a seamless nickel-plated ferrule and is long-handled. The brushes are assembled to ensure naturally interlocked bristles.

Winton Fine Hog Brushes have been specifically developed for use with Winton oils, but are well suited for any conventional oil or alkyd. Winton brushes are made with fine hog bristles and interlocked. These brushes combine excellent quality with economical pricing.

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Natural Soft Hair Brushes

As colour is thinned to a fluid consistency, a softer brush becomes necessary. When glazing or working on fine detail, soft sable brushes are preferred. Smooth applications are possible without leaving any brushmarks. To avoid excess wear, colours can be mixed on the palette with hog brushes or a knife, and the softer sable brushes used for painting. An excellent soft natural hair brush for oils is:

Cirrus Long Handle Brushes are part of the Cirrus kolinsky sable range,brushes that have been developed to provide sable quality at an affordable price. The brushes are hand-made by our skilled brushmakers. They offer excellent spring and colour carrying capacity. The LH (long-handled) brushes are perfect for detail work and glazing when working with thinned oil, alkyd, or water mixable oil colours.

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Synthetic Brushes

The last two decades have seen remarkable developments in the production of synthetic filament brushes. Many synthetics offer performance equal, and in some cases, even superior to natural hair brushes. There are synthetics
that are well suited to heavy body colour as well as for thinned, fluid paint, for example:

Artisan Brushes for water mixable oil have been specifically designed to offer the performance characteristics of hog bristle, yet maintain their shape and spring when in contact with water, particularly during prolonged painting sessions with water mixable oil colours.

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Brush Information

 Head shapes

The hog shapes are as follows:

The round. For general use and application of detail.
The flat. For general use and for application of colour in broad strokes.
The short flat. Similar in shape to the flat but with potential for greater
control due to the shorter, stiffer filament.
The filbert. Similar to the flat but with a rounded tip, providing
smoother application of colour with superior control.
The fan. Intended for blending and softening of colour edges.
Well suited to special effects such as foliage, hair, clouds and others.

Long or Short handles. Long handles are designed to allow the painter to stand back and work some distance away from the painting surface. Short handled brushes are intended for detail work, where the artists works closely to the painting. 

Brush care. To ensure the best performance and long lasting quality of your brushes, follow these simple rules:

Always clean the brushes with plenty of soap and water, or with Winsor & Newton Artgel and water until all traces of colour have gone.

  • Remove excess water and re-shape the head.
  • Never leave brushes standing upon their heads.
  • Store the brushes carefully, head uppermost.

Artgel is a hygienic cleaner which quickly and effectively removes oil and alkyd colours from brushes and hands more safely than turpentine or white spirit. It also help to restore natural oils to the skin, and conditions your brushes, as well.

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