June 5, 2023 8:09 am

Michelle Waters

Hello there, art aficionados! Ever found yourself standing in an art supply store, facing a wall of paint brushes, utterly perplexed? You're not alone. That bewildering moment is a universal experience for artists, both novices and seasoned professionals alike. So, today, we're going to simplify things, specifically focusing on acrylic paints — the versatile medium beloved by many. Let's embark on the hunt for the best paint brushes for acrylic paint!

Acrylics are unique, a kind of "jack-of-all-trades" in the paint world. They can act like watercolors, or they can act like oils. Thus, the brush you select can make a world of difference in your painting process. So, what are the best paint brushes for acrylic paint?

Best Acrylic Paint Brushes

The Essentials: Brush Types and Their Uses

Let’s ago ahead and dive into the heart of the matter — the different types of brushes and their unique uses. It's just like choosing the right superhero for the mission; each brush has its superpowers. From creating broad strokes to adding minute details, these heroes of the art world can do it all. So, strap in and let's meet the all-stars of the painting universe.

Flat Brush: The bread and butter of the art world, the flat brush is fantastic for bold strokes, filling wide spaces, impasto and, can also give you fine lines if you use it edge-on.

Round Brush: A versatile chap, the round brush, is ideal for sketching, outlining, detailed work, controlled washes, and filling small areas. Use it when precision is your game!

Filbert Brush: A flat brush with domed edges, the filbert is a favorite for smoothing out details and blending. It's the go-to brush for softness and finesse.

Fan Brush: Though a specialist, the fan brush is perfect for blending broad areas of paint and creating special effects, like wispy clouds.

Angle Brush: Its angled bristles allow the artist to create sharp, controlled lines, making it perfect for filling corners and precision work.

Materials Matter: Bristle Type Breakdown

The composition of a brush is like the secret ingredient in grandma's special recipe; it's what makes the magic happen with your acrylic paint. It's the bristles that waltz gracefully across your canvas, creating mesmerizing strokes of brilliance. Ready to know more? Allow me to pull back the curtain and reveal the personalities of the most common bristle types:

  • Synthetic: Synthetic brushes, such as nylon or polyester, are great for acrylic paint. They hold their shape and maintain stiffness no matter how much water you throw at them.
  • Natural: Natural hair bristles, like hog or sable, are more suited to oil paints. They can be used with acrylics, but be warned: acrylics can damage natural hair brushes over time.
  • Blend: Brushes made from a blend of synthetic and natural hairs can also be a good option, offering a balance of toughness, flexibility, and absorbency.

Caring for Your Brushes

Purchasing the best paint brushes for acrylic paint is one thing, but maintaining them is another. Well-maintained brushes can last for years, providing the same level of detail and precision as they did when you first used them.

  • Clean Immediately: Acrylic paint dries quickly, which can ruin brushes if not cleaned promptly. Rinse thoroughly under running water immediately after use.
  • Reshape: After cleaning, use your fingers to reshape the bristles to their original form.
  • Dry Properly: Never leave your brushes standing bristle-down in a water jar, as it can ruin their shape. Instead, lay them flat to dry.
  • Store Correctly: Once dry, store them upright or horizontally, preferably in a hard case to protect the bristles.

Tech-savvy artist and teacher Roben-Marie Smith offers some insights into how to safely dispose of the acrylic paint waste leftover on our brushes and in our water:

When cleaning acrylic paint, it is super important to remember to never pour it down the drain or into the trash. Instead make sure to place a small bucket, pail or bowl under the faucet as you clean your brushes. If you’re wondering what to do with the buckets/bowls of dirty acrylic paint water, then take a look at this article that outlines a DIY solution to remove the acrylic paint solids from your rinse water. They also offer another article on waste disposal

My Top 5 Picks: Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Paint

There are a plethora of options out there, and it can be a tough nut to crack. Here are our top 5 picks for the best paint brushes for acrylic paint.

Winsor & Newton Monarch: These synthetic brushes mimic natural mongoose hair, known for its durability and stiffness, making them a fantastic option for acrylics.

Da Vinci Acrylic Paint Brushes: A blend of synthetic fibers, these brushes offer excellent paint-holding capacities and a smooth, soft brushstroke that is a dream to work with.

Grumbacher Goldenedge Golden Toray Round: These synthetic rounds are a wonder at detail work and versatility, holding their shape and stiffness quite well.

Princeton Catalyst Polytip: If you're into heavy body acrylics, this brush is your new best friend. The unique synthetic hairs resemble natural flagged hairs and hold up to heavy, textured mediums.

Liquitex Professional Freestyle Large Scale Brush: For artists who like to work large, this is a perfect choice. The synthetic bristles are sturdy, and the large sizes are fantastic for big projects.

Mixed media artist Karen Campbell writes that Princeton artist brushes are her favorite. (She also has some fun photos videos on her post -- I'm loving the Bob Ross cutout!):

Even though I've got a GIANT stash of acrylic brushes, there are really only a couple of favorites I always reach for. I love my Princeton Artist Brushes for acrylic painting, in either the "bright" or "filbert" cut... I like my acrylic brushes to be super stiff with coarse, short hair. The stiffer, the better! I feel like when you're blending wet on wet, or wet on dry - you need your brush to be able to move around and "be the boss" of your paint! If the brush is too soft - you can't get anything accomplished! LOL!!

I totally feel this sentiment -- especially when I'm working on a larger piece and really need to make things happen on the canvas!

FAQs About Best Paint Brushes for Acrylic Paint

Are expensive brushes worth it?

Well, that's a yes and no situation. Expensive brushes often last longer and hold their shape better, but if you're just starting out or experimenting, there's no harm in beginning with a more affordable set.

Can I use oil paint brushes for acrylic paint?

You can, but keep in mind that acrylic paint is harsher on brushes than oil paint. A brush designed specifically for acrylics will typically be more durable and resilient.

How many brushes do I need to start painting with acrylics?

There's no magic number, but a basic set might include a couple of sizes each of flat, round, and filbert brushes. If you want to be certain, I recommend you decide what techniques you'll need to accomplish your goals and which brushes suit those purposes. If you're not sure, you might consider starting out taking some classes from professional artists who can provide you with a list of supplies you need for your project and help you understand the purpose and proper usage of each tool.

How do I know what size brush to use?

As a rule of thumb, larger brushes are used for broad strokes and filling in large areas, while smaller brushes are used for details and fine lines.

How often should I replace my acrylic paint brushes?

With proper care, high-quality brushes can last for years. Look out for signs of wear like splitting or fraying, which suggest it's time for a replacement.

Can I use watercolor brushes for acrylic paints?

While technically possible, it's not recommended. Acrylics are heavier than watercolors and can quickly damage the soft hairs of a watercolor brush.

So, there you have it, folks! Acrylic painting is a journey of exploration, and the right paint brushes are your trusty companions along the way. Remember, the best paint brushes for acrylic paint are the ones that feel right in your hand and align with your artistic style. Now, go ahead, and paint your heart out!

As Editor and Publisher, Michelle oversees the content creation for the site. With a background in art, design, and writing, her interests are in color theory, mixed media, and gestalt.

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