Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Anatomy of a Paintbrush - Part 2, Sizes, Materials & Mediums

Artists’ paintbrushes are usually given numbered sizes that correspond to the width of the bristles just above the ferrule, although there is no exact standard for their physical dimensions.

The most common sizes for soft round brushes are #4/0 to 24 (1/64” to 11/16“ wide).

For bristle brushes, common sizes range from #0 to 24 (1/32” to 31/32” wide).

From smallest to largest, the sizes are:
  • 10/0 (say “ten-zero“), 7/0, 6/0, 5/0, 4/0, 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 30.
  • Brushes as tiny as 30/0 are manufactured by major companies, but are uncommon.
If you need brushes larger than one-inch wide, you may have to resort to the kind used by furniture refinishers and house painters. Abstract expressionist Franz Kline swung a five-inch-wide brush from the hardware store.

Now that you are familiar with paintbrush sizes (above), as well as their various shapes (see Part 1), you should also be mindful of what materials the brushes are made of, and of course the painting medium you’ll be using.

Should you choose hair or bristle brushes? Should they be natural or synthetic? Here is a summary of the most common materials used to make fine art paintbrushes:
  • High quality, soft hair paintbrushes are made from costly Kolinsky sable and Red sable. More moderately priced are ox hair (sabeline) brushes. Less expensive still are squirrel, pony, horse, goat, mongoose, sheep, rabbit and badger. “Camel hair” brushes are least expensive, although it does not come from camels.
  • Synthetic brushes have almost the same qualities as natural hair and bristle brushes but at a more affordable price.
  • Synthetic “hairs” and “bristles” are made of special multi-diameter extruded Nylon-type filament intended to mimic the taper of natural fibers. Whether they are white, orange, brown or another color, synthetic brushes are pretty much the same.
  • Bristle paintbrushes may be either natural or synthetic, depending on the degree of stiffness/softness you require.
  • Hog bristles (often called China bristle or Chunking bristle) are stiffer and stronger than soft hair. It may be bleached or unbleached.
  • Stiff brushes are generally stronger, and thus last longer, than soft brushes.
  • Cheap brushes have short life spans. Their hairs and bristles soon go limp or fall apart, leaving behind broken specks on your paintings.
Artists’ paintbrushes are usually made for specific painting mediums, such as watercolors, oils and acrylics. Although there are not rules, here are some guidelines:
  • Watercolor brushes are usually made of natural sable, synthetic sable or Nylon. (Watercolorists favor natural hairs, due to their superior ability to absorb and hold water.)
  • Oil brushes can be either natural hair or bristle, as well as synthetics.
  • Acrylic brushes, which are almost always synthetic fibers. (Since acrylic is a water-based medium, synthetics are ideal because they aren’t susceptible to water damage.)
The handles of artists' brushes are usually made of wood but can also be made of less expensive molded plastic. While many mass-produced handles are made of unfinished raw wood, better quality handles are of seasoned hardwood. The wood is sealed and lacquered to give the handle a high-gloss, waterproof finish that reduces soiling and swelling. They last longer too.

Ferrules keep it all together, firmly clinching the bristles/hairs, adhesives and handle into a reinforced, precision instrument. Metal ferrules may be of aluminum, nickel, copper or nickel-plated steel. Quill ferrules (natural or transparent plastic tightened in place by thin wire) give a different "feel" to the brush.

You’ll feel good exploring BINDERS Paint Brushes Department. It is literally bristling with full range of artists’ brushes in all shapes, sizes and prices ranges. From the world’s finest sources, choose from Princeton Brush, Winsor & Newton, Yasutomo, Silver Brush, Art Alternatives, Loew-Cornell, Grumbacher, Isabey, Escoda and many more.

You could say, we’ve got different strokes for different folks.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Call for Artwork! Popular - a Juried Art Exhibition inspired by Pop Culture

Are you an artist? Are you into all things pop culture? Well then we have something for you!

BINDERS is sponsoring this exhibition along with Rhythm Liqueur, kidrobot, Asahi Beer and City of Ink.
  • All artwork* must be submitted by February 22th
  • Submit to City of Ink: 323 Walker Street, Atlanta GA 30313
  • Call (404) 525-446 with any questions.
Opening Reception: February 26 from 7 to 10pm at City of Ink
Donate a can of Campbell's Soup for their window display to feed the homeless.

*Submitted artwork will be reviewed by a jury, judged on technical skill, creativity, and craftmanship. No restrictions on size or medium.

Please visit for more info.

Anatomy of a Paintbrush - Part 1, Shapes

Paintbrushes are used for applying paint or ink. With a little help from Wikipedia, we’d like to briefly paint in some of the details.

Brushes are usually made by clamping the bristles (hairs) to a handle with a ferrule, a metal collar or ring. Short-handled brushes are mainly for watercolor, ink painting and calligraphy, while the long-handled brushes are intended for oil or acrylic paint.

The styles of brush tip seen most commonly are:
  • Round: Long closely arranged bristles for detail.
  • Flat: For spreading paint quickly and evenly over a surface. They will have longer hairs than their Bright counterpart.
  • Bright: Flat brushes with short stiff bristles, good for driving paint into the weave of a canvas in thinner paint applications, as well as thicker painting styles like impasto work.
  • Filbert: These are flat brushes with domed ends. They allow good coverage and the ability to perform some detail work.
  • Fan: For blending broad adjacent areas of paint.
  • Angle: Like the Filbert, these are versatile and can be applied in both general-painting. applications as well as some detail work.
  • Mop: A larger format brush with a rounded edge for broad soft paint application as well as for getting thinner glazes over existing drying layers of paint without damaging lower layers.
  • Rigger: Round brushes with longish hairs, traditionally used for painting the rigging in pictures of sailboats and ships. They are useful for fine lines and are versatile for both oils, acrylics and watercolors.
Some other styles of brush include:
  • Sumi-e: Known by its Japanese name, it is an East Asian type Ink and wash painting brush, similar to certain watercolor brushes. They generally have a thick wooden or bamboo handle and a broad soft hair brush that when wetted should form a fine tip.
  • Hake: An Asian style of brush with a large broad wooden handle and an extremely fine soft hair used in counterpoint to traditional Sumi-e brushes for covering large areas. Often made of goat hair.
  • Spotter: Round brushes with just a few short bristles. These brushes are commonly used for small detail work, such as covering spots on photographic prints.
Speaking of coverage, BINDERS Paint Brushes Department is like a store within a story -- literally bristling with full range of artists’ brushes in all shapes, sizes and prices ranges. From the world’s finest sources, choose from Princeton Brush, Winsor & Newton, Yasutomo, Silver Brush, Art Alternatives, Loew-Cornell, Grumbacher, Isabey, Escoda and many more.

And while you here, don’t forget brush cleaner.

Coming next: Part 2, Brush Sizes

Visit the BINDERS website at!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

This Week @ BINDERS - January 25-31


Just in case those pesky Internet gremlins failed to deliver our recent email to you, we’ll ditto this very important message: At BINDERS you don’t have to be a big
artist to save BIG money! We know that artists come in all sizes and colors. That is, every artist has her or his own unique specialty, medium and passion. And whether you’ve been an doing art for days or decades, BINDERS is your
place for sizeable savings on art materials. BINDERS is here to help you be all the artist you want to be.

Monday, January 25:
Guided Open Studio with Kay Powell
10:30am-2pm • Every Monday
Fee: $15/session. No sign up needed. Please pay the instructor.

Calligraphy 2 with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm • Mondays, 6 sessions, Jan. 4-Feb.8 •
Fee: $140
Advanced level for those who have taken Anne’s Copperplate or Italic class

Guided Open Studio with Kay Powell
6:30-8:30pm • see details above.

Tuesday, January 26:

Painting - Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
1-4pm • 6 sessions, Jan. 5-Feb. 9 • Open to all levels. • Fee: $140

Painting - Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
6-8:30pm • see details above

Bookmaking with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Tuesdays, 6 sessions, Jan. 5-Feb. 9 • Fee: $140

Wednesday, January 26:
Copperplate Calligraphy with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Wednesdays, 6 sessions, Jan. 6-Feb. 10 • Fee: $140

Thursday, January 28:
No special art events today.

Friday, January 29:
No special art events today.

Saturday, January 30:
No special art events today.

Sunday, January 31:
No special art events today.

Please note: Classes on this schedule are in our Atlanta store unless otherwise indicated. For more information please email or call Eli Pelizza at 404.237.6331 ext. 203.

Check out the full list of our upcoming art classes and art workshops! Attend 5 classes, workshops or demos and receive 25% OFF of your next class.


New exhibits coming soon!

Visit the BINDERS website at!