Feb 17, 2012

"Brush Smarts"

"Brush Smarts"


Linda Lover

La Corneille Golden Taklon Round Brush 7000

When offered the opportunity to write about brushes, I wasn’t sure where to start. Then I decided that perhaps the beginning might be a good place. How many remember your very first metal paint case of 8 colors with that little round brush? I doubt that most of us gave any thought to why a round was chosen. Later we learn that it was most likely due to its versatility. After years had passed and I became interested in decorative painting, I found the first brushes I bought were rounds. I imagine it was because of that first brush that came in my painting case; really the only brush that was familiar to me then.

At the time I began to have an interest in painting, many of the brushes were long handled so I had my husband cut them down because I was not an easel painter. While buying brushes, I was choosing them based on the round shape, rather than the content or quality of bristle. I soon learned the importance of quality and content through trial and error. I eventually found out that cheap brushes fell apart, shed and were impossible to control.

Coarse bristles were not giving me a smooth finish, though the quality was good for that type of brush. Nylons were sometimes too stiff and made strokes difficult to maneuver. Natural hair was often too soft or too stiff for my style with acrylic paints. It was when I came across the taklon bristle that I found what I really enjoyed painting with. They had flexibility, spring and when cleaned properly, held up very well.

Taklon is a synthetic fiber that was developed by DuPont with rights acquired by Toray Chemicals of Osaka, Japan to process. Taklon originally was created to mimic natural sable. It comes in both golden and white and in various diameters with bolder fibers imitating boar bristle and finer fibers mimicking hair. Just as with good natural hairbrushes better Taklon brushes are also going to cost more. When it comes to brushes, you will usually get what you pay for. When you buy a better brush, good cleaning is essential for longevity and performance.

All brushes have a particular purpose and many can go beyond traditional use. Generally a round brush is considered one of the most traditional shapes for decorative painting. In the family of rounds, you will find the liner, script liner, rigger, pointed round, ultra round, teardrop, spotter, detail round, and short round. Rounds are used for creating lines from thin to thick. They also detail, wash, dot, and fit into small areas. Larger rounds are perfect for stroke work, particularly for petal shapes and curves. Pressure applied to a round determines whether a stroke will be bold or narrow.

The illustration page shows the various strokes that are possible from thin lines to broad petals with a standard #6 round brush. Broad leaves can even be painted simply by pulling strokes out from the middle vein outward or joining strokes. Pressure will open up a line or a stroke. Combine strokes to create different flowers and foliage. The brush has a place in landscape scenery as well, for example, pulling a stroke for a fence post and then using the brush to line wire. Windowpane detail and flying birds can be finished with a round. The families of round brushes are excellent for just about every style of painting.

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