Best Paint Brushes for Oil Painting (and Acrylics)

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In this article we explore some of the best paint brushes for oil painting, as well as acrylics. There are many different types of paint brushes available on the market, and therefore it can be difficult to determine exactly which ones are best to use.

Enter any art store and you will see rows (or even aisles) of different oil paint and acrylic brushes! To help you sift through them all I will go over the best paint brushes available at different price points.

I have used quite a few different types of paint brushes over the years. So, I am excited to share with you (and dig into) some of my favorites here! Getting good oil paint brushes and acrylic brushes really makes a big difference. I always advise new painters to invest in quality brushes, and you will see a noticeable improvement in your paintings.

Best Synthetic Filbert and Bright Brushes for Oil Painting

Princeton Aspen Brushes 6500 Professional Paint Brushes

Best oil paint brushes for painting
These Princeton Aspen Brushes are some of my personal favorite paint brushes for oil painting! I use them every time I paint.

Pros: Works with oil and acrylic paint

Very durable and sturdy, keeps shape.

Cons: Expensive compared to other brushes

One of my (current) all time favorite paint brushes for oil painting are the Princeton Aspen Brushes. These brushes do a great job at keeping their shape – unlike many other brushes I have used. They have thick bristles and are sturdy which makes them ideal for heavier use.

The brushes are almost as stiff as hog hair brushes but they aren’t as scratchy which helps to make smoother paint marks. The texture of the brush is in between a soft synthetic and natural bristle brush which I personally love. I also appreciate that no bristles fall out of these brushes! They are a wonderful all around sturdy brush that is great for indoor painting and ideal for outdoor painting.

You can find them in a large range of different brush types and sizes – my personal favorites are the filbert shaped ones! The one major downside to these brushes is that they are more on the pricier side when compared to other paint brush options.

Best Round Paint Brushes for Oil Painting (and acrylic)

Escoda Opera Takatsu Synthetic Round Brushes

Best round oil paint brushes
The Escoda round brushes are revered by some of the most respected painters.

Pros: Affordable, synthetic, available in multiple sizes.

Cons: Ferrule part of the brush is shiny so might bother eyes when painting outdoors in sunny conditions.

With time I have come to appreciate round brushes a great deal. Their shape offers a range of possibilities especially when you get the ones with a pointed brush tip like these round brushes by Escoda.

These Escoda brushes are quite similar to sable brushes but are more robust as they are synthetic bristles. The brush easily and quickly snaps back to its original shape. I love that the bristles are soft, yet still hold their form and don’t fall out even when used with heavier paint.

The best part about these brushes is the pointed tip as no matter how thick your brush is you can use that thin tip to paint in smaller areas. This will come in handy!

Best Bristle Oil Painting Brushes

Robert Simmons Bristle Brushes

Best bristle paint brushes for oil painting
Robert Simmons bristle brushes are great classic paint brushes for oil painting and acrylics to have in your collection. It is important to take good care of them as they can lose their shape easily if you don’t.

Pros: Bristles firm and hold their shape well

Cons: Not as durable as other brushes, can fray easily.

I have been using Robert Simmons bristle brushes for a while now and really like to have some of them in my brush collection as they are a little more stiff and scratchy which can help add variety to the texture of my painting.

However, I only have a few of them at a time as have found that they don’t last me very long in comparison to other brushes. The bristles can potentially start falling out prematurely. That said, I paint far more often and harder than most other painters.

The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages as they give you a lot of control and help to create very good work. I would recommend them for advanced painters who are looking for more precision and a variety of textures.

Best Paint Brush Care

Knowing how to properly clean and take care of your acrylic and oil painting brushes will save you a lot of future headaches (and money!).

Once you have good quality paint brushes you need to take proper care of them. I recommend for you to follow proper brush cleaning methods, as this will lengthen the life of your brushes! Also, a good tip is to let your oil paint brushes soak in baby oil from time to time – this helps to condition the brush hairs.

Now over to you – let me know what your favorite oil painting (or acrylic) brushes are in the comment section below! I might even update this article with your suggestions 🙂


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    22 thoughts on “Best Paint Brushes for Oil Painting (and Acrylics)”

    1. Greg Westerwick

      I have, like so many others, spent lots of time, effort and money looking for the perfect brush. I’ve kind of concluded that all are a compromise in some respect. The blog so far has touched on many of my favorites.

      Right now I’m kind of partial to Rosemary and Kalish. Some of the Rosemarys do spread a bit over time, but overall are excellent and a great value if you package up an order of several to spread the shipping cost across the brushes. Kalish performs well, but in my super-dry, high altitude climate, every single handle has shrunk and come off the ferrule. Nancy at Kalish replaced some, but I’ve found a few minutes with Gorilla glue and I never notice the problem again. Some of my old Robert Simmons, Princeton and Silvers still perform well too, but has anyone looked at the prices from Dick and Jerry’s recently? They are much, much more expensive than the Rosemary and Kalish combination I mentioned above, so I may never buy another brush from them again.

      One writer mentioned that it is all about the cleaning. I agree. I use Gamsol for the basic cleaning, then pink soap and a couple washings with master’s soap and do a bit to reshape them when they dry in the furnace room. Never have brushes splay.

      1. Thank you Greg for your comment sharing your experience with brushes. You are very much correct in that all are a compromise in some way or another. I have very recently tried out a variety of different Rosemary brushes and am pleasantly surprised by them and am liking them quite a lot. Especially after comparing prices – as you mentioned. I will definitely be updating this article to include these brushes. I have not yet tried out Kalish brushes but have heard of them before.

        Cleaning truly is key. Thank you for sharing your brush cleaning method. Reshaping the brush as you do is a very good thing to help their longevity and general performance. One thing I added into my regimen is to dip each brush in baby oil and let it sit until my next painting session – where I clean my brushes in murphy’s oil soap before painting. The baby oil allows the brushes to get conditioned and it also loosens any paint that may not have come out during the initial cleaning.

    2. רותי כהן

      אליזבט יקרה שלום רב
      תודה רבה על המאמר המקיף ויסודי ,המקנה ידע רב לבחירת מכחולים
      והשימוש בהם
      לקחתי להבנה מה לקנות
      אני משתמשת לצבעי שמן-מכחולים עשויים בסיבי שיער טבעי, לא סינטטי
      מכחולי בריסטל גדלים 4-12
      חיתוך עגול וישר
      מכחולי סייבל-גדלים
      filbert end flat
      גדלים 6,4
      תודה רבה על המאמר המקנה ידע והבנה
      בהערכה רבה
      רותי כהן

      1. היי רותי היקרה! תודה רבה על השיתוף במה אתה משתמש עבור מברשות. זה כל כך מועיל לאחרים לראות במה משתמשים ציירים אחרים. אני כל כך שמח שהמאמר הזה היה מועיל עבורך 🙂 תודה על השיתוף.

    3. Hi Elisabeth,
      In oil painting, cleaning the brushes is the most annoying part. I put the used brushes in a small glass where I pour a small amount of turpentine. I wash with water and I give the brushes a good bath with scrapings of a Mediterranean soap which is made with olive oil. (buy the soap hard meaning containing less water)
      Somebody should invent a washing machine for painting brushes.

      1. Hello Paul, I agree with you 100% that washing brushes is the most annoying part…! I find myself often letting them sit in baby oil until I get around to washing them properly. As this at least is good for them since baby oil conditions them. Then I wash them when I have more time. Olive oil soap is great for washing them! Murphy’s oil soap also works quite well.

    4. Hi Beth,
      The two difficult items in painting are: Mixing colors and Getting the good brushes to avoid breaking your wrist and/or neck. I am renewing the stock of brushes my wife left after she passed away. I got two flat Winsor and Newton, flat, firm and supple.

    5. Jonathan Brill

      Having painted for less than 2 years (and with only heavy body acrylics), I certainly have not tried every brush line out there. But I have found what I think is a best value brush line for the acrylics artist: the Creative Mark (house brand of Jerry’s Artarama) Pro Stroke Powercryl (#101). The firmness of these brushes is pretty much ideal, they don’t shed bristles at all, they are produced in the 4 major types (flat 101F, bright 101B, round 101R, and filbert 101FR), and they are slightly below average in price. Another good line of brushes are the Princeton Catalyst Polytip (#6400). Although these are more expensive (yet also better) than the Creative Mark Powercryl line, Polytips are produced in fan and angle bright configurations (as well as flat, bright round, and filbert), and these are also hard to beat in terms of value for the money.

    6. Rosemary brushes from Great Britain are fantastic and they have a large selection and are handmade and no more costly than Princeton. They are a tiny factory in England and really make wonderfully balanced long handles as well as a variety of watercolor ones. Check them out on line…very customer oriented and fast shipping.

      1. Contact Wind River Arts. Located in Texas and ship quicker than the London dealer. Call 972-342-4947. Can also locate on line. They have Rosemary brushes. Agree they are superb.

      2. I agree with Rosemary brushes being fantastic and I have a few that I love. Mainly I have been using Utrecht Tuscan Series brushes. They hold up well and I find that I return to them if I use other brushes. I just like the feel of them and how the paint flows.

      3. Curious if you’ve tried the flats and pointed filberts in the Escofa Takatsu line? I’ve been pondering getting a few these and their Tadami (synthetic mongoose) for a little while now. Jackson’s (in UK) have the best price of Escodas and ship brushes free if you spend a certain amount. Loving your articles…the one on painting white objects was just what I needed for a current piece I’m working on! Thank you!

        1. Hi Kate, I have not tried flats and pointed filberts of that line, but would like to give them a try. Thanks for sharing that – I will check out the offerings at Jackson’s. So glad you are enjoying the articles on here! Thank you for sharing that 🙂

    7. This is a great article. With such a wide range of brushes, brush types and brush brands, it can be quite overwhelming knowing which ones to buy. I’ve recently been introduced to Isabey Isacryl brushes for acrylic painting and really like them. They’re synthetic, but very good quality and with a lovely spring. I haven’t tried using them for oils though.

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