I’ve accumulated a sad set of brushes over the years. None of them cost over $10. Some were purchased at an auction 5 years ago in Boston. It was an artist’s estate and I bought his used easel, paints and brushes for $15. Lucky for me, his brushes were much higher quality than the ones I purchase. I still use them, though they are beginning to disintegrate.
I purchase a new brush every few months, use it until it’s a stump, then buy a new one. The way I figure it, if I can paint this well with crap brushes, life will be a whole lot easier when I get some good ones. Good brushes are a distant dream, lumped into my hopes of someday taking a vacation, or buying new clothes or a fancy new van to take me to shows. Until then, I’ll make do with what I have.
Some old relics
The three stages of a detail brush
Most of my brushes are synthetic. I’ve been told oil painters should only use natural hair brushes, but they cost 3x as much. You don't need them. I use flats and filberts, in different sizes. Fans, angle brushes and mops are useless. I rinse them with turpentine, then soap and warm water. When I accidentally let paint dry on them, a brush restorer works magic getting them back in order. Over time, a flat brush turns into nice, bushy blending brush. A new detail brush eventually becomes a stump that can be used for applying little spots of paint.
Having quality brushes will make painting easier, but if you are on a budget, I suggest spending money on quality paint. Below are my latest paintings, all painted with my beat-up brush collection.
3 new Mini paintings, 4x4" available for $55 each plus shipping on Etsy.