Oil Brushes

From natural options to high-quality synthetic fiber alternatives, Blick offers thousands of oil paintbrushes for artists of all experience levels, from students and beginning oil painters to experienced professionals. Brushes for oil painting traditionally have long handles so the artist can work at a distance from the canvas, although most brush manufacturers also offer short-handled brushes. The brush fibers in oil paintbrushes are generally firmer and stiffer than those found in watercolor brushes, although many of these brushes can also be used with acrylics, gouache, watercolors, water-mixable oils, and other types of paints and mediums.

Natural oil paintbrush varieties include sable and sable blends, bristle, ox, fitch, and others. Synthetic oil paintbrush alternatives are divided into soft, medium, and firm categories for ease of comparison, and include different types of taklon (golden, white, and brown), white and brown nylon, proprietary filament blends, and more, in the same sizes and shapes as natural oil brushes. Because of recent advancements in synthetic paintbrush technology, most synthetic oil paintbrushes have the same working properties and perform as well as or better than their natural counterparts. Access our Brush Charts for more information on types of paintbrushes, including brush shapes, fiber types, and measurements. Painting knives and palette knives can also be a useful tool for applying oil paints and creating different effects with oil painting mediums.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What brushes should I use with oil paints?

    A wide range of brushes may be used. From natural to synthetic bristles, the brush can be left largely up to the artist. By experimenting with different brushes, each individual artist can find ones that suit their needs.

    Traditional oil painting brushes have long handles, so that the artist can work at some distance from the canvas. The hair is generally firmer and stiffer than for a watercolor brush.

    Palette knives can also be a very useful tool for mixing and/or applying oil paints to paintings.

  • How do I clean oil paint from my brushes?

    Cleaning your brushes is a very important step in ensuring a longer life for your brush. In the case of oil paints, the brush should be cleaned off thoroughly starting with solvent and rags or tissue. Once the brush is fairly clean from the solvent, rub the bristles in a glass or plastic jar with either a brush conditioner or a human hair shampoo. Give the brush a good final rinse and squeeze out any water. Dry the brush with its hair end lower than the handle end to prevent water from loosening the handle and the ferrule. Dry brushes can be stored bristle up in a jar, or laid flat. Protective storage containers are available too.

  • How do I choose between Long Handle and Short Handle brushes?

    Long handled brushes are recommended for easel style painting giving the artist additional length to stand back from the canvas. Short handled brushes are often used for table-top painting where the artwork is closer to the artist, and lies flat, such as with watercolor painting. Either type of handle that is most comfortable to the artist can be used.

  • What are the differences between brush fibers?

  • What are the differences between brush shapes?

  • What are the differences between brushes

    Free Brush Charts Download our free brush charts in pdf format.

    Brush Hair Types Brush Shapes and Usage Brush Size and Measuring

    Brush ShapeFiberDescription
    Angular Brush-testBristle, SyntheticFlat ferrule, short-length hairs, set with longer hairs at one end. Useful for precise strokes, and for lines and curves, with thick or heavy color.
    Media - watercolor, acrylic, decorative
    Brush ShapeFiberDescription
    Brightsable, synthetic, mongoose, bristle, badger, syntheticFlat ferrule, short-length hairs, set with longer hairs at one end. Useful for precise strokes, and for lines and curves, with thick or heavy color.
    Media - oil, acrylic, decorative