Welcome to my blog post on the different uses for paint brushes, and the different brands that we offer at our store. There is a lot here for beginners and maybe some new bits for the pros. I will start basic and get more tricky as the post goes on, so scroll down to see what brush you are curious about.
Types of Brushes
A lot of people ask me what brushes I use the most. I carry around a pretty hefty bunch of brushes to gigs, a big cup full because I always like having variety. If I get a little bored I will play around with a funky brush to help create new designs.
Synthetic versus Natural Hair
I use synthetic hair brushes or brushes that have a blend of real and synthetic hair. The real hair brushes are very soft when you get them wet, so they are harder to control in my opinion. Brushes designed for acrylic painting, especially decorative painting seem to hold face paint well and offer a lot of control. I have met painters who use the mega fancy natural haired brushes, their claim to fame is that they hold more paint and let it out too! If you are a dare devil, give them a try, I am sure with practice they can be used nicely.
Besides being the best for outlining, making swirls and twirls and popping out little dots, rounds are also good for having a hey day with tear drops. By dragging the tip and then pressing down, or by doing the reverse, you will get cute little tear drops. They work best if you use a round with a chubby base and a pointy tip. You can also use them for making double loaded flower petals and for filling in spaces with paint.
I always have 2 small rounds, two medium rounds and two nice fat rounds, all for black and white (round # 2 or 3, and a 4or 6 and a 10).
Why do I subject my self to so many rounds just for two colors?
It is hard to rinse all of the black out of a brush at a gig, so I just keep brushes for black so they don’t contaminate the loveliness of the other colors and so my water doesn’t get so muddy so fast with all the rinsing of a black brush. Same deal with the white, I don’t like picking up a brush that was last used with red paint, and then rinsing it and using it for white…and ending up with a whitish pink. My colors come out looking brighter and my water looks better, and I save more paint if I stick to this policy in my brush department. You can color code your paint handles with finger nail polish so you know who is who.
For all the other colors I just use another group of many sized rounds interchangeably .
Flats are another brush that I have more than one of in my kit. I have 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″ and 1 1/4″ flats for all of my one stroke painting needs. ( Yes ,I have a strong need to one stroke!)
I think the 1/2″ and 3/4″ flats are easier to control if you are doing fancy one stroke moves with a lot of wiggling the brush, and the wider flats are better for more simple strokes.
I also love the 1/4″ flat brush for doing thin to thick line work for tiger faces and around spider fella’s eyes. I twist the small flat while I pull it, so it looks like it goes from / to — to / to —-. You can end with a really sharp line, which always excites me!
Filberts are well known for being the go to brush for double and triple loaded flowers. They make great petal shapes when you just stamp them down, or stamp and twist them. Different sized filberts will open you up to different sized flowers or baby butterflies.
Filberts are also good for painting cheek art in general, laying down larger areas of a color, like to fill in a pony heads or other rounded edge designs. Filberts also rock my socks off when it comes to blending a darker color onto a lighter color…they make a smooth transition between the two colors.
I love rake/wisp brushes. They are great for making tons of fine strokes or tons of tiny dots all at once. I use the larger sized flats, angles and fans the most. The fine lines add dramatic fine shading to the outer edges of butterfly wings…if you start at the edge of your wing and then pull in towards the eye. I also use them for palm trees and grass and horse hair for cheek art designs. For boy full face designs I use them a lot to add wrinkles on the nose of creepy monsters, or weird textures on the rest of the face, or fur on tigers.
My biggest use for the rake/whips brush is for making tiny little dots over black line work or around designs to add that magical fairy dust look. I load up a pretty good paste of white and just stamp the tips all over and every one goes “Ohhh wow!” I am glad simple things can amaze those who watch you paint.
A regular fan brush is also a popular one in my kit. I use it for butterflies and also for wisping shag. I like to also press it into the rainbow cakes and stamp it around eye masks.
There are some funky brushes for sale right now from Loew-Cornell. I have used the dagger a lot in the past after seeing Lynne Jamison use it for making really long fine sharp lines. I haven’t tried the other two below, but they look like fun.
Taking Care of your Beloved Brushes
Before you go nuts and buy really fancy expensive brushes, make sure you have a system set up so that they stay in good shape for a long time. I am not the best mother to my face paint brushes, sometimes I even drop them on the floor and leave them at gigs, and who knows what happens to them after that! I store my brushes in a zipper pouch that has one mesh side. There are cases where you store them under elastic bands, and that is my dream for 2012, since they jostle around too much in my pouch, and if it turns upside down the bristles get a little raggedy.
You can snip wild loose hairs off with a nail clipper, and you can try to reshape your brushes by setting them with hair gel, or even face paint.
You can wash your brushes in hot water, or in baby shampoo.
It is recommended to dry your brushes either hanging upside down or flat so that when they dry, the water doesn’t soak down into the Ferrule ( the metal tube that holds the bristles onto the handle )and mishape the bristles or the wooden handle . Once they are dry you can store them standing up.
Another thing that is hard to resist is not to leave your brushes sitting bristle down in your water cup while you are working. I have a habit of doing this, and I have to stay really conscious to rinse and put away my brush. Avoiding rubbing your brushes to death on the bottom or side of your cup will also help them last longer.
Watch how your load your paint as well, making sure that you aren’t hurting your bristles by smooshing them into the hard cakes in unnatural ways. Usually we get a hang of this pretty quick…well hopefully by the time we turn 8 years old. My daughter still makes me squirm when she uses my brushes.
If you have some damaged brushes, you can still use them for other things, like applying glitter on your face paint designs or glitter tattoos, or by making them funkier by additional smashing or cutting to see if you can come up with a useful specialty brush! ooh la la !
Once, while making a youtube video, Oceana chewed the wahoo out of one oh my 1″ flat brushe…she bent the metal ferrule so much that the bristles would no longer be useful for one stroking. I took that dear flat of mine and double loaded the tips, smashing in head first into a rainbow cake, and then stamped the head onto my skin and found out it made an amazing feathered petal print.
About the different brands! We carry brushes that we like, there are so many lines of brushes that it is hard to decide what else to carry. If you are looking for a particular brush, please let us know. Some brushes are more expensive than others. The quality of the handle and the hairs can affect cost, along with simply the brand name that goes with them. Head to face paint jams and try out your friends brushes and write the names down. Mark Reid has a plastic handled brushes (correction…they are actually wood with a very plastic like appearance), which looks nicer for a longer period of time than wooden handled brushes. Paradise’s Prisma flat brush has shorter bristles for better control, and it also has a plastic handle. Look for pointy tips, a strong connection at the ferrule and bristles that are not too sharp and pointy for a child’s skin. TAG and Loew-Cornell have great ones!
If you have any questions about brushes, please leave them in the comments or e-mail me…or even call me!