Hi all,  I want to buy some larger paint brushes (2 inch and larger)...what do I need to know?  And do I go to Home Depot or the art store?  I want to use them for background, prepping the canvas, large areas of the painting...any advice? thanks very much!

Views: 52

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Marion! You can purchase hake brushes at your local art store or online. Many watercolorist use them for laying in large areas, but can be used with acrylics and oil as well especially if you are working fat over lean. You can also get some nice texture effects with them like tall grass for example.

I've used just ordinary cheap latex brushes also. Don't know if it's right or wrong, but all I needed was a vehicle to get some under paint on a large canvas and it was what I had at the time. If it was super large I would have used a mop! lol! But I do believe that good brushes are an important investment because when you think about it they are the extension of how we express ourselves with paint on canvas.

Thanks Mark.  Think I will buy one of each and see what I can do with them. 

Hi Marion,

I'm with Mark in the idea that you can use anything to get paint on the canvas that works! Some people use credit cards to spread paint around. And of course there is Bob Ross with his hardware store 3 and 4 inch brushes. Especially if you are using them for layers that will be largely covered with subsequent layers, there is really no boundary to what you can use! It doesn't make a lot of sense to buy expensive  brushes for this purpose, especially as the bigger the brush, the higher the cost!

I think the biggest factor is the stiffness or softness of the brush and how that works with your medium. Acrylics require something a bit stiffer to move the paint around easily than say watercolor. Some of the hardware store brushes might be too soft for the task. I like the synthetic flat brushes you can get in art stores. I like the longer bristled ones too.  You can find them pretty inexpensively, too. The biggest problem with the cheaper ones is when they lose bristles as you paint, and when the handles loosen up from the ferules. It's nice to be able to handle them in the store and get a feeling for their stiffness and how well they are put together....

Thanks Karen, that is what I wanted to know. Like the credit card idea too,lol. Will just have to experiment now.

Nice question, Marion!

For surface preparation, I seldom use brushes.  I like a bit of "stipple" on the surface, so typically use 4" rollers.  Full size rollers just take too much effort and water to clean.  If the surface is to be tinted, I mix some tube colour into the final gesso coat before application.

I like using texture, so often will apply thick gel or paste to localized areas with a painting knife or even a 2" putty knife.  The latter is not as flexible, so limits what you can achieve.

Art stores (brick and mortar) are generally more expensive than hardware stores for comparable brushes.  Either mixed bristle/polyester or full synthetic brushes will work with acrylics.  For these larger brushes I take the view that they are not investments, but tools for rough handling.  I do examine them in the store for even bristle ends, fullness, firmness, etc.  The metal ferrule should also be tight around the handle - if it wobbles or shows gaps, leave it at the store.  Locally, the same brand and model of brush is routinely cheaper at one store than anywhere else in town.  It took time first outing to compare prices, but saves money in the long term.  I prefer angled brushes (like trim or sash types) but that is a personal thing.

I use an ultra soft 3" polyester brush for doing glazes and washes.  These are $15-$18 each, but are worth it for my purposes.  Have used the same brushes for applying an isolation coat on finished pieces.  They probably would work really well for someone doing mixed media as well.

The more vigorous you are with your brushes, the more likely you will have bristle loss.  That includes the cleaning process as well as while painting!  Almost a guessing game - I have tried 2.5" brushes with great success and then had nothing but problems with larger brushes from the same product line. 

If you get just one or two brushes at a time, be sure to put them through their paces and see how they work out before buying more.  If you don't like them at that point, perhaps the household handyman can use them.  

Thanks Charles! Great info! I did buy several various brushes at the hardware store and am trying them out. Love the foam roller idea, will definitely try that! How many coats of gesso do you do?

Other than Ampersand finished panels, I do two coats of sealer followed by two coats of gesso.  I previously used Golden GAC100 as a sealer, but recent tech notes from Golden state that their Gloss Medium is a better choice, especially with their Open line.  Bin and similar shellac based sealers can be softened and compromised by ingredients in the Open line as well.  If you prep a number of pieces at the same time, as I am prone to do, it makes sense to have a universal protocol that works with the most demanding paints.  That way you do not have to worry later as to which was prepped with what.  Sealers are designed to provide a non-porous base for your painting that will prevent migration of water soluble salts and chemicals from the substrate to the paint film.  The technical name is Substrate Induced Discolouration, or SID.  This was not known when acrylics were first introduced, but is a reality that required destruction of a number of my earlier acrylic pieces.  The risks outweigh the inconvenience of precautions.  All plant based substrates are at risk to some degree, while stretched canvas is probably the lowest risk.  All wood products, including the fiber backing of canvas panels, should be considered high risk.

Sealers typically leave a somewhat tacky surface and are not designed to serve as top coats.  After leaving each sealer coat to dry at least 24 hours, I do the first gesso coat and leave it for a minimum 24 hours.  You may lightly sand at this point if you like a smoother surface, but do NOT sand into the sealer layer or that film will be compromised.  The second gesso coat is often tinted with ochre, a neutral gray tone, or even the compliment of the main colour being used for the painting.  Gesso does not act as a sealer, but serves to provide "tooth" to enable paint layers to better bond with the surface.

I normally use the fiber rollers rather than foam, the latter may give a smoother surface depending upon how you use them.  With heavy bodied gesso you may find the fiber rollers much easier to use.

Thanks so much.  I am going to print this off to refer back to.  I think I have some more experimenting in my future.  Really appreciate you going into so much detail, thanks again Charles.

thanks Charles!


What's new?

Need some extra help?

The Personal Tutor

Yes, you CAN help!


Become a Patron of the Arts!

Join me on my Patreon page. Pledge a small monthly donation and get rewards!

  • Discounts on Classes in my Online School
  • Discounts in my Etsy Shop
  • Free Personal Tutor Sessions
  • Patron Only video chat/demos
  • and more!



Or you can use the button below for a one time contribution in any amount - Thank you!

Latest Activity

Sarah Irland commented on Sarah Irland's photo
2 hours ago
Charles Emery posted a photo
21 hours ago
Charles Emery posted a status
"Smuggler’s Notch Vermont. A plein air painting 11x14 on canvas board"
21 hours ago
Ken Dinneen commented on Catherine's photo

© 2018   Created by Karen Ilari.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service