Florida painter, Everglades, Marco Island, artist Jo-Ann Sanborn


Acrylic brushes, and Edge of the Gulf daily painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Edge of the Gulf, 2014, Jo-Ann Sanborn
acrylic on board, 7"x5" Sold

I’ve been putting off talking about brushes because I treat mine so badly.  Hog Bristle is my brush of choice, and I often scrub with them and use them until they’ve been worn down into a whole new shape! 

Brushes come in many sizes and types.  Both synthetic and natural bristle brushes are great for acrylic, and each has its advantages.  Natural bristle brushes are best for soft edges and drybrush, and synthetics hold a lot of paint but  generally make harder edges.  I personally like brights, a rather square brush with shorter bristles because they’re a little stiffer than longer bristled flats, great for scrubbing, but as Emil Gruppe would say, “why pay for less, since you’ll eventually wear it down anyway!”  A couple of rounds are good too, since they are versatile and very responsive to your arm and hand movements in the early stages of a painting.  

As you become familiar with different brushes you will probably only use only a few favorites most of the time.  But for some people, it’s almost like shoes and you can never have enough.  If you do collect a few of each kind and you will occasionally find uses for most of them.  Before ordering brushes, go to an art supply store and hold and feel a number of brushes to see what feels best in your hand.  If you are just staring out, you can get by with a few flats and filberts, and a rigger, or thin, pointed brush for signing paintings. 

Start your block-out with the largest brush you can and work over the whole canvas.  You can decrease in brush size as the painting progresses.  It’s always a mistake to get tied up nitty-gritty small brush details before you have developed the underlying character of the painting.  

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