Paint Brushes

Never underestimate Paint Brushes

So I have a new series in the works – it’s a bit of a departure from my norm of abstract.  I truly love the organic nature of creating abstract art. At the same time, I am also pretty psyched about my newest series in the works. They are fun representational works painted on large canvases. Between painting more realistic AND the larger canvases, it is taking a longer time to complete each piece.  I am loving it though! It feels purposeful….

But the real reason

I’m writing today is to discuss paint brushes. I have a whole slew of brushes for acrylic and oil and another slew of them for watercolor and inks. For some reason I cannot resist going into an art store and not picking up at least one more brush to add to the arsenal! Last time I bought brushes, they were having a huge sale on Escoda brushes and I stocked up! Seriously though, I think I have a brush addiction – but that’s another story…

The Good

Some of my favorite brushes for acrylic painting were the Catalyst Polytip bristle by Princeton. I love the bounce in these brushes!  After about a year though, the tips started splaying! 🙁  I’m not the only one to have this issue with them, so I wrote Princeton and included some photos of the problem.

Splayed brush tips on the catalyst polytip
Splayed brush tips

Pretty quickly, I received a reply from the owner of Princeton Art, who promptly sent me a replacement set of the Catalyst Polytip AND a new set of their 6300B series brushes to try. Amazing, the quick response; not a canned response either, this was someone genuinely concerned and ACTED to make it right! I agreed to not use the Masters Brush cleaner on the new Catalyst Polytips and report back after a year or so. Instead of The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver, I’ve been using Murphy’s Oil Soap on them. Here it is nearly a year later and the Catalyst brushes are holding up beautifully.

I think it may have been the Masters Brush Cleaner that tore them up. Regardless, I fell in love with the 6300B Series Brushes that he included. And they have held up nicely too, the brights are still holding a fine edge and I couldn’t be happier!! Now they are one of my favorite brushes! I’m also a fan of the Silver Bristlon brushes too, it all depends on if I’m using acrylic or oil – and these are at the top of my list for acrylic and oil mediums.

Now for the Bad

thin and thick painting brush
The old and the new Grumbacher Gainsborough Series

One brush that has fallen from grace with me is the Grumbacher Gainsborough Series, what a disappointment. I inherited a Grumbacher Gainsborough brush from my friends mom. It was an old #10 Bright, it’s still one of my faves and holds a buttload of paint too! So, I bought some new ones since I liked this older one so much. Well apparently they don’t make them like they used to. They must be relying on their name, because the quality of the new ones SUCK (the brights do anyway) they are thin and don’t hold much paint. I bought 3 of these, and of all the brushes in my arsenal, these are the biggest losers. Seriously – do yourself a favor and skip this series altogether….

So remember…

In closing let me just say that if you are using the Catalyst Polytip brushes for acrylic painting, you might want to skip using The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver on these and use some liquid soap or Murphy’s oil soap instead.

different sized and types of paint brushes
Some of my favorite brushes depending on the work.


Do you have a favorite brush for oils or acrylic, let me know?



deb sigline


This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. luke610

    It’s strange how we become attached to certain brushes hey? I seem to use the same brushes most of the time (some synthetic and some natural fibre brushes) I’m not a snob about makes / models. I just pick what suits my pocket and what feels right to my touch – that’s one thing I HAVE to do when buying brushes, I have to actually feel the thing before I buy it. So if it’s wrapped in plastic, then I will take all the packaging off and ‘cop a feel’.
    When I look in my tool box at the moment, the ones I’m using most are Daler Rowney brushes. Some were expensive but most of them were quite reasonably priced. I bought a set of four nylon brushes about three years ago (don’t know what make they are- they might also be Daler Rowney, all different sizes and the shafts are a pale opalescent pearly blue; the fibres are orange. These have been the best brushes I’ve ever used (all flatties) and they have been seriously abused over the years but still come up looking like new after a good wash – and I’ve used glue and all sorts of things on them in the past. I also use two fan brushes for larger areas (blending) and these are both Daler Rowney brushes. I wish I could afford to buy more good quality brushes but one needs to sell stuff I suppose 🙂 (Making a joke). Have a lovely rest of August xx

    1. Deb B

      I agree there are certain brusahes that are just my favorites and I turn to them again and again. Haha ‘cop a feel’ so important isn’t it – to see how they feel. I don’t think the Daler Rowneys are as prevalent here because I don’t tend to see them so much, but now I will be on the look out for them! Thanks for stopping by and weighing in, much appreciated. Have a great week ahead.

  2. maryellenwall

    I like to shop brushes too, but of course find myself going back to my favorite Princetons and Blick Masterstrokes. As I only use acrylics, I just clean up with water with a dot of baby shampoo if needed. I have wide short brushes, ziggy edged ones, house painting brushes and I do like experimenting. To me, painting has to be fun to be worth it and new brushes are part of that fun!

    1. Deb B

      Oooh the Blick Masterstrokes, they look interesting haven’t tried those YET. I’m suprised at how well I like the Blick and Utrecht brand for canvases, I’m sure I would like their brushes too. And yeah, it’s GOTTA be fun or why paint!!!!! Though not a brush snob I love trying out new ones! Thanks.

  3. karengadient

    I also like the Catalyst Polytips, but I clean them with liquid soap. Also a huge fan of Isabey Isacryl Synthetics. Oh, and Da Vinci Impasto brushes are awesome too; if you haven’t tried one, give it a go!

    1. Deb B

      Karen, you are my go-to person for all things art, I swear! I have never heard of Isabey Isacryl Synthetics, so of course I’ll have to give it a go. The DaVinci’s have been on my radar, I could have used them a few weeks back when i was working on a heavily textured piece. It’s good to know that you recommend these. Thanks – have a great week!

  4. enicely

    For acrylic painting my new love is the Liquitex Free Style brush. I use brights and filberts. The white synthetic tip holds a lot of paint and and has just the right spring. It also blends paint well. The shape of the handle allows me to hold it by the back tip comfortably and with good control.
    My second favorite acrylic brush is the Pro Stroke Powercryl by Creative Mark. They have softer bristles and a regular shaped handle.

    For water color painting I use Cheap Joe’s Dream Catcher series . My favorite No. 6 round is still going strong after 13 years of painting. It holds a great tip and controls the flow of paint like a champ! Another set of WC brushes are my 30 year old Cotman flats with the clear acrylic handle. They look almost new and I use them on every watercolor painting. And finally my 2 inch Robert Simmons Skyglow Wash brush. This is a wonderful brush for wetting paper as well as loose washes and glazes.

    I have never had trouble with Master’s Brush Cleaner. Periodically, after I wash my brushes, I use hair conditioner on them followed by a final rinse in clean running water. This renews the shape and the bristle quality.

    1. Deb B

      It’s good to know that these brushes have endured the test of time Elise! I’ve been needing a wider brush for washes, might need to check out the RS Skyglow! Do you know if the Liquitex FreeStyles come with long handles? As for the Master’s I believe it is a known issue with the polytip brush, or at least there seems to be a connection. I tried wrapping the splayed brush in oil and flattening it in a “fitted paper pouch” – (think burrito for a brush) and then tapeing it up and leaving for a few weeks – it still never brought it back to a tip, though it helped, not enough to hold an edge… I save the masters for the once in a blue moon where I miss a brush in cleanup. The oil soap is my ‘go to’ now. Thank Elise – have a super week ahead!

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