When painting a piece of art, always try to pick the biggest brush you can find to get the job done. Use finer brushes for the details in the end.   

 

Long vs short

A brush is an extension of your vision, your mind. The longer the brush, the more you can paint and see what's going on at the same time. ( for example working with a model or still life, landscape..) Long brushes are perfect to see things at a distance, perfect for oils. Short brushes are more used for horizontal work, to look up close. Like watercolours or fine details.

 

Bristles:

Some are much softer than others. These make them more flexible and help thin paint strokes away. Whereas others- like hog hair bristled, are stiffer, making them great for textural brush work, but the rigidity also makes them easier to accidentally lift paint up, which can be hard if you’re beginning, as you generally want to use more paint when working with these. 

The length of your bristles determines if it's more flexible-bouncy (longer hair). With shorter bristled brushes, the paint that gets gummed up at the base begins to push the bristles outward, warping the shape and as it gets further down to the top, this build up begins to stiffen the brush.   

 

Synthetic: cheaper, easier to clean, good for beginning of painting. Because then you are more abusive, more raw. Synthetic brushes are perfect for this.  I work with them all the time.

Natural: beter quality, they grab the paint in a better way because of their structure. fine work, expensive, not animal friendly.

Test your brush in the shop to check the quality:

Push the top of the brush against your hand. The resistance, aka the "bend", should be in the middle, not end or tip.

Each shape can help you how the paint is applied on the canvas: 

Round brush: traditional > sketching, soft and curvy (for example painting hair)

Flat brush: edges, straight or bold lines, big surfaces or varnishing. 

Bright type: square and round on the sides > bolder application. or a round brush! 

Spits: Detailes like lips and eyes.

Filbert: dome shape > soft, straight use and blending. 

Fanbrush: to soften everything > mostly used on the final layers wet on wet, with a dry brush.

These are just tips. Experiement to see what fits use best. Each brush can create different effects. 

CLEANING

- TURPS/ MINERAL SPIRITS: Cleans quickly but is toxic. Always use gloves and a mask with proper ventilation.       These products causes early brush degradation.

-TUPRENOID NATURAL : (a non-toxic, non flammable brush cleaner, conditioner and paint thinner formulated      from the natural essence of citrus products and other natural sources. Not as effective as regular turps). 

- You can also use (Winsor&Newton) brush cleaner and restorer. This dissolves EVERYTHING. 

- DISH SOAP: Non toxic, safe option. Takes a bit longer to clean but is better for the brushes. My      personal favourite.

*Wear gloves when cleaning. If you get oils on your skin wash off immediately. 

For the lazy ones:

-Store it in the freezer till you have to use it again.

-You can wrap your brush in a piece of polyester film (PET or Mylar). As you don't use them all the time, it's  not necessary to clean and rinse them all the time. Unless I don't plan on using a brush for longer than about  a week, this is how they are stored. (varnishing)

cleaning pallette: a spray bottle with turpentine/alchohol/white spirit/.. makes it easy to clean the glass. You can just wipe it off. However, I never use this technique because it's kinda toxic. I just scrap the paint off after each session and it's not a problem. Or I forget about it for months and the paint turns hard and I have to put dubbel the effort in it.