If you’ve just started a painting class for the first time (or if you’re refreshing your skills) — congratulations! There are few things as rewarding as learning a whole new way to express yourself.
That said, jumping into an art form with such a long history can be overwhelming, too. That’s why we made these guides to the different types of paintbrushes and how to read a tube of paint.
Read on for a crash course and links to more info. And best of luck on your creative journey!
Other tips & resources: paintbrushes
- The quality of hair and the manufacture process make a big difference in how a brush holds and distributes paint, and how it retains its shape and spring.
- Try starting with just a few brushes, then invest in different sizes, shapes, and styles as you learn what you need.
- Always feel free to ask at The Art League Store if you need help selecting the right brush for the job. Our supply store is staffed by working artists.
- how paintbrushes are made (by hand)
- an introduction to watercolor brushes
- how to clean your brushes
- another way to think about choosing brushes
Details about paint labels:
- About pigments: Different manufacturers have different “common” names for paints that use the same pigment. For example, Winsor & Newton’s “Winsor Lemon,” Golden’s “Hansa Yellow Light,” and Williamsburg’s “Permanent Yellow Light” all use PY3: Arylide Yellow, but you wouldn’t know that unless you peeked at the back of the label.
- About lightfastness: Lightfastness lets you know how permanent (or archival) the paint will be: will the color look the same in a few years or does it lose its vibrancy or shift hues after periods of exposure to light or heat? The manufacturer has tested it for you so you don’t have a nasty surprise years down the road.
- About series numbers: The higher the number (or letter), the higher the price. Why are some paints more expensive than others? It’s all about the pigments, which might be from organic sources or manufactured synthetically, and how much they cost the manufacturer.
Of course, these are just the basics — different products have many variables that may or may not be on the label, like opacity and transparency, how thick or thin the paint is (viscosity), and drying time.
Did you find these guides useful? There are lots more artful resources in our archive.