A variety of different painting tools to apply paint to your support will result in the possibility of a huge range of marks, which can make a very exciting picture surface. Most oil painters find that experimenting with unfamiliar painting tools from time to time allows for work to develop, and even if you try a technique that you don't particularly enjoy, it will enforce the processes that do inspire you.
Here is a quick guide through the various shapes available.
Round - A 'cone' of hair which usually ends in a fine point. Drag the paint over a surface very lightly to acvhieve fine lines, or apply more pressure to make more 'splodgy', thicker, circular marks that cover a greater surface area.
Flat - Flat brushes are also sometimes known as 'brights', and some brush manufacturers produce both short flat brushes and long flat brushes. The longer the hair in a brush, the less 'spring' the brush has, however a longer haired brush will retain more liquid/paint, and is good for achieving longer uninterrupted lines of colour. Short flats are good for making small square marks. Some more gestural portraitists favour short flats as one can easily describe the contours of a face with the square marks that one can achieve with such a brush. Larger flats can be known as 'mottler' brushes, and these are often favoured for varnishing finished work. However they can also be used for big, expressive, square marks that cover larger areas of a support with colour.
Filbert - Filbert brushes are like flat brushes, that taper to a point at the end. They are extremely versatile, and combine many of the characteristics of both round and flat brushes. Use lightly to paint thin lines and dots with the point, or apply for pressure to paint larger brush marks that have a curved end to them and therefore a softer mark than one achieved with a flat brush. Some ranges also offer a long filbert, which light the long flats, has slightly less spring but a greater capacity for holding colour.
Fan - The fan shaped hog hair brushes are often used to gently blend brush marks together, and also to paint relatively thin layers of even colour.
Stiffer hair brushes such as hog lend themselves to more expressive, impasto marks. Softer hair brushes such as sable are particularly good for achieving blended paintstrokes, glazes, stains etc. Thoroughly caring and washing your brushes reguarly will prolong the brush life. Please refer to our brushes section for more information.
A palette knife is very useful when colour mixing on a palette, as they can be wiped clean with a rag in a second, unlike a brush. This allows one to use the same knife to mix a number of colours cleanly and quickly.
Knives can also be used to apply colour to your painting. The long edge of a knife can be used to achieve extremely flat swathes of colour, and these layers of flat colour can be builts up to create fleshy textures. The tip of the knife could be used to draw fine lines or sharp dots of colour.
Are available in varying softnesses, and tend to be made of rubber or silicon. These can also be used to draw lines, or they can be used to etch marks into wet oil colour that is already on your support.
For ultra smooth marks the Sofft Tools allow one to apply oil colour with 'make-up' style sponges which lend themselves to very soft (as the name suggests) blended marks.
Other Painting Tools
We also list brush cases, soaps and palettes in this section to complete all your painting tool requirements.