How Do You Know Which Paintbrush to Use?

How Do You Know Which Paintbrush to Use?

which paintbrushes to use
Geoff’s “mops”:
A Tintoretto Aquasoft, goat hair (Jackson Art Supplies)
B Silver Brush Atelier Quill, goat hair
C Escoda Aquario Gold, squirrel
D Escoda Ultimo synthetic
E Escoda Aquario, squirrel
F Holbein Series 1220 hake brush, goat

“Brushes are only as good as how we use them,” says plein air watercolor artist Geoff Allen. In the article “Are You Using the Right Brush for the Job?” from our sister site, American Watercolor Weekly, Geoff explains the essential three types of brushes he uses, which are:

1. Quill mops (“my workhorses are medium-size brushes with a point)
2. Specialty brushes
3. Assorted used brushes

“Think about your brushstrokes like music,” he said. “Who wants to listen to the same note over and over again? Create variety in strokes by changing direction and angles.”

Related: Save years of struggle and frustration by discovering techniques revealed by the world’s top watercolor artists in just three days at Watercolor Live, the world’s largest online art training event January 26-28, 2023 with Beginner’s Day on January 25.

From “Are You Using the Right Brush for the Job?”

“Brushes can be anything that assists you in manipulating paint or the paper surface,” Geoff said. “There are no bounds, from using old credit cards to pine needles. Once I forgot a pencil and I used a charred stick from a beach fire.

“On the handles of my brushes you might notice Velcro, which allows me to hang them off my setup shelf or palette. Also, I denote specialty brushes for trees or good splattering ones with blue tape. Before I start painting, I always give them a dip into water to soften any dried paint on the brush tip. I occasionally give my natural hair brushes a replenishing soak in olive oil soap by Escoda.”

“From Here to There” (watercolor on panel, 14 x 18 in.) by Geoff Allen
“From Here to There” (watercolor on panel, 14 x 18 in.) by Geoff Allen

Related: What is plein air painting?

“As an artist, plein air painting allows my art to showcase two of my greatest passions: my enthusiasm for the outdoors and the beauty of watercolor,” Geoff said. “While I have worked in many media, for me watercolor is the most immediate. By embracing the water’s independence, I find that it is both medium and metaphor, and at times both a curse and a blessing. I love that aspect of art making- something that is out of my control and a challenge. My journey in watercolor is to learn how to conjure the water into abstraction, in other words to allow the water to do the work.”

Continue reading and see which paintbrush Geoff uses for a variety of techniques here.

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