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Which brushes are best for acrylic painting? Don't worry! Explore our high-quality brushes sets, perfect for newcomers, artists working and watercolor painting. Read More

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You can’t put a price on a quality brush, but fortunately, with Cowling and Wilcox’s excellent value range of artist brushes, price isn’t a worry. We have a brush for every need and purpose, whether you are creating a watercolour triptych or the world’s smallest oil-on-canvas. No matter your choice of surface, whether it's stretched linen canvas or watercolour paper, our brushes will help you create the perfect masterpiece.

Natural hair brushes are great for watercolour painting – the softer the better. They hold large amounts of paint or water which is necessary for this medium. Red sable is considered to be the best choice for artist brushes, as sable hair comes to a fine needle-like point with excellent spring and resilience. Synthetic hair is now so good that many watercolourists prefer them to natural hair - particularly if price and durability is an issue.

For oils and acrylics, we recommend bristle artist brushes as they have the ability to carry large amounts of paint and work fantastically with a heavier body. Bristle artist brushes are more likely to be used in the beginning stages of a painting to distribute the paint and establish brush strokes. They’re incredibly durable and sturdy.

Across all of our brush types, we offer a variety of excellent value brush sets. Brush sets are a perfect option for those who are new to painting and would like to quickly and affordably expand your brush collection. Our stock includes options like acrylic brush sets, oil brush sets, watercolour brush sets and more. Our brush sets include a variety of materials, including natural and synthetic fibres and include many different sizes and uses. 

Whatever your material of choice, we have a range of shapes and sizes of brush to choose from, with both synthetic and natural hair options available. Whether you are a professional or beginner, we have the brush for you – so start browsing now

How do you use paint brushes?

There are a variety of different techniques used with and without paint brushes and with different mediums. Techniques will depend on what effect you are trying to achieve and also the properties of the paint you are working with. You can paint with dry brushes, wet brushes and even with rubbing alcohol to achieve interesting effects. For more details, visit our blogs for Amazing Acrylic Painting Techniques and Watercolour Techniques To Try.

How do you clean paint brushes?

The quality of your brush can make or break your paintings. Maintaining your brushes by cleaning them and applying preserver will lengthen their life and make painting with them a lot easier. For best results, you should clean your brushes immediately after use to prevent paint hardening and damaging softer bristles. Don’t be tempted to leave your brushes in water for long periods, as this can be as damaging as leaving covered in paint.

When using paints that harden quickly, like acrylic and some oil paints, water often won’t be enough. We recommend using a brush cleaner, such as Da Vinci’s Brush Soap or Daler Rowney’s Brush Cleaner, to ensure your bristles remain soft and malleable for your next painting. Following this, you can apply a brush preserver to ensure that your brushes stay soft whilst you aren’t using them. With Cowling & Wilcox, you can shop for all your favourite brush cleaners and accessories to keep your brushes in top condition for your art.

For ideas on how to store your brushes and other art supplies, read our blog full of creative and organisational tips.

What is better: synthetic or natural brushes?

Synthetic and Natural brushes both have their advantages and which one you choose can have a variety of influences. 

Just like the name suggests, natural brushes are made from animal hairs such as hog, sable and bader. These natural hairs are very soft and are great at picking up and distributing large amounts of paint. Their softness reduces streaks and their paint-pick up can speed up painting times. However, these bristles do have a tendency to shed and split, meaning that accurate and precise lines can be difficult to achieve.

The more modern development of synthetic brushes has fixed some of the problems associated with natural brushes: Synthetic bristles don’t shed and are great at maintaining their shape for detailed work. They create a smooth finish and are, for the most part, cheaper than their natural counterparts. Maintaining these brushes is vital as with quick-hardening paints the bristles can be difficult to clean. Synthetic fibres are a more popular choice, but when using more natural paints, such as oils or clay-based paint, natural brushes might give a softer finish.

What are the best brands for brushes?

There are many factors that can influence your decision on a brush - shape, size, durability. But with Cowling & Wilcox’s selection of quality brands, you’ll be sure to find the right brush for your needs. You can find discounts on all our top brush brands on our constantly-updating special offers, so don't miss out! Below are just some of the great brands we have in stock:

  • Daler-Rowney: Daler-Rowney are one of the world’s leading art manufacturers. No matter your artistic ability or your budget, Daler-Rowney offers a great brush selection.

  • Pro Arte: As the UK’s leading brushmaker, Pro Arte are one of the most recognisable brushes in the world. They offer brushes for watercolour and oil paints in a variety of materials, ensuring you can choose the right option for your style and medium.

  • Da Vinci: Renowned for being some of the best brushes in the world, Da Vinci are the masters of the watercolour brush. Made in Germany using the best materials and fine craftsmanship, you’ll notice the difference in these quality brushes.

  • Jakar: Jakar brushes are great for those who want quality brushes without the price. They are popular amongst students and people just starting to paint.

  • Winsor & Newton: For over a century, Winsor & Newton have been making the finest quality brushes. They have ranges of synthetic as well as natural brushes in a variety of shapes and sizes for any purpose.