What are the Best Oil Painting Brushes? Or What Oil Painting Brushes is Recommended for a Beginner Oil Painter?

art instruction oil painting supplies
What are the Best Oil Painting Brushes? Or What Oil Painting Brushes is Recommended for a Beginner Oil Painter?

I've purposely chosen to break this article down into segments because what is the BEST Oil Painting Brush is a clear winner for me - BUT, what is BEST for you in the stage of your oil painting skill development may not be the one that I recommend for you.  So let's break it down for a minute a couple of questions: 

  1. Do you wash your brushes after every oil painting session? 
    1. If yes, go to the next question. 
    2. If no, stop
  2. Do you get paint up into the ferrule of the paintbrush?
    1. If you don't know what a ferrule is, stop.
    2. If the answer is yes you do get the paint in the ferrule, stop. 
    3. If no, go to the next question
  3. Is it ok to scrub a red sable or badger hairbrush?  
    1. If you answer yes, stop.
    2. If no, YEAH!

Which Oil Painting Brushes are You Ready For?

If you made it here without having to stop on the questions above, then congrats!  You get to go for the best of the best, the brushes that you'll covet and won't let anyone touch :)  click "Best Oil Painting Brushes".

If you had to stop, sorry you aren't ready for the best of the best brushes YET. But have no fear, you will get there, and I still have some great, budget-friendly paint brushes that will take a beating. Go To "Best Oil Painting Brushes For Beginners"


Best Oil Painting Brushes For Experience Painters

Paintbrushes are tools of the trade and as such, each hair type and each shape becomes a tool that we know and love for a particular task at hand.

The selection of a paintbrush becomes second nature over time and, I don't know about you, but for me, introducing a new brush type takes an adjustment period before it finds its proper place.  Each paintbrush is a tool that knows its purpose, but it has to convey a purpose to you. And its purpose for you may not be the same purpose for me.  In essence, a paintbrush is like Harry Potter's Wand. :) 

Here is a breakdown of the tools I use and why:

Hog Hair Brushes 

Hog Hair paintbrushes are my least expensive and most abused.  I'll use these brushes to scrub and block in the first layer of paint.  I have not invested in new ones in 15 years.  The ones I have are:

Badger Hair Brushes

I invested in a wonderful set of badger hair brushes from Rosemary & Company, and here are my favorites, these are drool-worthy....  (keep in mind, I generally paint small and fine detail, which means, you may need larger brushes):

UPDATE: Check out the Unboxing of Rosemary & Co Casey Child's Oil Painting Brush Collection Here.

Red Sable Synthetic

I got used to the synthetic after the real stuff was banned for a bit in the U.S. so now I actually prefer the synthetic red sable.  I found that the bristles bounce back easier and still have the same soft feel that I had with the real sable.  I use red sable synthetic for fine details and anything that requires a soft touch. And they are fabulous for glazing.

Here are the Red Sable Synthetic Brushes I adore:

Specialty Brush 

I use a watercolor mop brush to gently blend colors, create soft lines/soft edges, etc.  This brush is inexpensive so I am rougher with it than the coveted brushes I mentioned above.

While these are my go-to grouping and ones I rarely let anyone touch for fear they don't know about the paint in the ferrule issue, I do continue to use the ones I've dubbed 'beginner oil painting brushes'.  if you want to check those out read on!  They take a beating and are not so expensive to replace.


Best Oil Painting Brushes for Beginning Oil Painting

It's funny how when you walk into an artist's studio you'll see a HUGE collection of paintbrushes :).  There is actually a couple of things going on there:

  1. First, we hate throwing away a paintbrush, there is always some use, at some point.
  2. We wanted to try them all - we love to experiment.
  3. We remember how much they cost.

The truth of it is, you do not need that many paintbrushes. and to get every size is tempting, there is a huge breadth of brushes and price points. But when you first start I recommend purchasing five inexpensive brushes for three reasons:

  1. Traditional oil painting brushes have long handles, beginner painters want to control the brush like a pencil. So there is no need to pay for a long handle, get the short handles.  As you get more comfortable, more relaxed, you'll begin to move back on the handle.
  2.  We all did it, we'd load up our brushes with as much paint as possible, leave our brushes soaking in the tubs.  :) It's how we were taught with watercolor and acrylics.  Typically beginners will load up a paintbrush causing the paint to get shoved into the ferrule part of the paintbrush where it can’t be washed out. Which will ruin the brush.  (the ferrule is the metal part of the paintbrush that connects the brush to the handle.)
  3. Invest wisely, focus on the quality of paint over the paintbrushes. Invest wisely in quality paint.

The following brushes are a staple in my brush kit.

They take a beating! These are synthetic paintbrushes, which means they'll be less expensive, take a beating and will continue to be a tool to use for years to come in your tool kit :) :

In the course “Ultimate Oil Painting Supplies Guide”, there are tips and tricks on how to use a paintbrush, when to use different kinds of paintbrushes as well as a download on Dos and Don’ts of Brush Care.  You can get this course and so much more when you become a member of the Positive Painters. 

Once you've mastered how to clean and care for your brushes, please by all means explore new and, what will be, more expensive brushes!  Check out the section above "Best Oil Painting Brushes".

Please note: I am an affiliate with Amazon and Blick Art materials which means I may receive commissions when you click my links and make purchases. However, this does not impact my reviews and comparisons. I only advocate products I believe in.


When you join the Positive Painters Online Artist Community you'll be provided with The Ultimate Oil Painting Supply Guide Course which is FULL of great tips and advice about oil painting supplies that took 2 decades to collect.  Here is what you'll learn:

  • the difference between quality paint and cheap paint in how they perform.
  • the difference between the palette options and why you would choose one over another.
  • where to save your money and invest in quality supplies.
  • the different types of painting surfaces; panels vs. canvas.
  • what the value and purpose mediums and when to use them to make the paint perform differently (dry faster, slower, leave brush strokes, etc.).
  • the different types of brushes and how to care for them.

You'll be provided with:

  • 8 Instructional videos that detail the What, Why, and Hows of Oil Painting Supplies.
  • 8 Downloadable ebooks to take with you to the art supply store or purchase the supplies from the comfort of your home.
  • Closed Captioning is included in each video.

Become a Member to Get - The Ultimate Oil Painting Guide Course and so much more!

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