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Brushes 3. Soft brushes for oil (and acrylic) painting

By Justin Cooke, Jan 1 2015 11:18PM

Soft brushes are essential too; but need some care.

Here is Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. We saw another of her self portraits in Brushes 2. for oil (and acrylic); where we could see her at her easel with a whole handful of brushes

Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Once again she has a selection of brushes

Now I want to look at the variety of brushes artists useand in particular soft brushes. It is true that for many artists a bristle brush is the most typical choice for applying oil paint; particularly thick oil paint. But soft brushes should not be neglected. They are essential to achieve delicate fine lines and fluid brush marks. These brushes may also need a little extra care.

Here are some of my soft brushes that I use for oil painting. Nice sharp point and long handle.

(I also use square soft brushes which I trim to shape)

Let us consider the pointed brush.

Often, when oil painting, it is inevitable that you may just have to throw those brushes into a jar of turps so that they can be used some time later, or even the next day, without drying out. You may have the time and inclination to clean thoroughly the dozen or so brushes that you have been using, but it is tempting, isn’t it, to just plonk them in a jar.

I am now going to save your brushes.

If you have a few, use an elastic band to hold them together and place a pencil across the top of the jar in such a way as to hold those brush tips away from the base of the jar.

You should have something that looks like the image below.

For single brushes…just use a clothes peg

Remember though, this is only a temporary measure and brushes should not be left in this way for too long.

With water based paints like acrylic and watercolour do not do this, they will rinse out easily with water and can be left to dry flat

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