Overall, I find that the Pro Arte Sterling Oil Painting Brush Set is the best brushes for oil painting. This set of brushes is versatile and durable, making them cost-effective and a great foundation for a brush collection when beginning in oil painting.
As a child, I remember sitting with my grandmother and watching Bob Ross paint landscapes in 30 minutes and was amazed every time. Needless to say, my first set of oil brushes was the Bob Ross Set which also came with paint and one of his how-to oil paint landscape books that were based on his show. Of course, his oil paint sets were somewhat more affordable back in the day.
I have tested dozens of what many would say is the best oil painting brushes throughout my journey in art and have found that there are some that are good for finer detail work and others are better suited for larger oil painting such as landscapes and scenery.
As an artist who has worked with some of the best oil paints, I can confirm that finding the perfect oil painting brush or set is a constant project. Oil paint is a beautiful but tricky medium to work in, and it takes the right tools to properly execute your artistic vision.
After extensive research on various oil paintbrush styles, ranging from natural to synthetic bristles, long and short handles, stiffer and softer hair, etc. I have found several brands and types that are good brushes for oil painting in my opinion.
Quick Access List of My Top10 Picks for Best brushes for Oil Painting
This list is designed to include the best oil brushes for a diverse range of needs and to give you quick access to buying the product.
- Best Overall – Pro Arte Sterling Oil Painting Brush Set
- Best for Wet-on-Wet – Bob Ross Oil Based Landscape Brush Set
- Best Hoghair Brushes – Fuumuui Natural Chungking Hog Bristle Artist Brushes
- Best Sable Brushes – Isabey Series 6228 Sable Kolinsky Round 08
- Best Synthetic Brushes – U.S. Art Supply Synthetic Paint Brush Set
- Best for Beginners – Winsor and Newton Winton Brush Long Handle
- Best Premium Synthetic Brushes – Princeton Oil Brushes
- Best for Fine Art Painting – Da Vinci Oil Brushes
- Best for Realism – Micheal James Smith Brushes
- Best for Detailed Landscapes – Kevin Hill Brushes
Read on for a comprehensive guide on the best brushes for oil painting and some good alternatives.
Disclaimer: As an affiliate for Amazon and Blick I make commissions on products purchased through the links on this site which helps to create more content for you 🙂
Just Some of the best Brushes for Oil Painting
Not every artist has the same needs and the type of oil painting brush that’s best for you depends on your level of experience, technique preferences, and budget.
These attractive synthetic brushes are the perfect balance between stiffness and softness. The medium-firm synthetic hair is very easy to use and applies oil paint onto the canvas very smoothly.
The synthetic hair creates a glossy brush stroke without any bristle marks. However, the smooth finish is balanced out by the brush’s ease in creating texture and variable brush strokes.
Like most oil painting brushes, the Pro Arte Sterling brushes have long handles that allow you to keep a distance from the canvas as you work on your piece. These brushes are easy to handle and the brush stroke can change with small movements and adjustments to pressure.
The versatility of these oil painting brushes makes them an excellent choice for a go-to set. Despite the affordable price, they are high-quality and durable, so they are sure to last you a long time.
The above set is only available at Amazon! Blick has full paint sets with paint and single brushes available
Sometimes celebrity-branded art supplies aren’t the best, but Bob Ross did know his stuff. These oil painting brushes are a popular and high-quality choice for wet on wet oil painting.
The wet on wet brush set consists of brushes with natural hair bristles, which allow for paintings with a classic brush stroke texture. This is a very comprehensive set and has brushes in a variety of sizes and shapes that fulfill any oil painting need.
In terms of usability, the brushes are hefty and can handle thick, wet oil paint, and the handles are rounded for ease of movement.
If you are looking for a complete brush set that will work well for a wet-on-wet technique and produce predictable results, you can’t go wrong with this Bob Ross set.
Hog hair is a popular natural material for oil painting brushes because it is flexible and robust enough to hold and manipulate oil paint.
For a complete set of hog hair brushes, the Fuumuui Natural Chungking Hog Bristle Artist Brushes set is an excellent option.
The set comes with a wide range of brush sizes and shapes, and the high-quality hog hair is versatile enough to work well with other painting mediums in addition to oil paints.
These brushes are durable, soft, and flexible. The long handles allow for maximum brush control that is ideal for the fine details in your painting.
Best Alternative: Robert Simmons Signet Chungking Hog Bristle Brushes
Since I could not find the Fuumuui brushes on Blick I thought I would provide a good alternative set that should perform just as well if not better. Single brushes are available with plenty of brush sizes and types to choose from.
Siberian sable hair is one of the most luxurious natural materials you can get for an oil painting brush. These types of sable brushes (actually made from weasel hair, not sable) consist of dense, long hair that works perfectly for detailed fine art painting.
This Isabey Brush is an ideal investment into the fancy world of sable brushes because it can handle both highly detailed work and lay down large strokes of paint.
These brushes are designed to be well-balanced with a sturdy bristle that will last a long time and produce precise, professional brush strokes.
The only real downside to this brush is the cost which can be quite high due to the seasonal harvesting of the natural sable.
This synthetic paintbrush set is a comprehensive set with professional-quality materials. The synthetic hair brushes are durable and flexible and will not fall out as your paint.
Having a good set of synthetic bristle brushes is an extremely useful resource as they last forever and can be used with a large variety of painting mediums.
This set is especially convenient due to the impressive range of sizes and shapes, not to mention the convenient zipper case for storage.
Best alternative: Blick scholastic wonder white synthetic brush set
Blick’s synthetic brush is a good alternative to the US Art Supply since they do not carry the brand. The prices and quality are comparable and a large variety of brushes can be found for individual purchases.
For art students and beginner oil painters, the Winsor and Newton Winton Brush is a great choice when looking for good oil paintbrushes.
These brushes are easy to use and will be accessible for new painters but are affordable enough that they won’t be too intense of an investment for someone just starting.
Their shape holds together better than similarly priced brushes, and the brush bristles are firm enough to create textured and dynamic strokes.
Blick offers multiple packs and individual brushes from a filbert brush to a fan brush and everything in between so you are sure to find the type of brush you are looking for in this brand.
The set shown above may not be available on Amazon.
When it comes to brands, Da Vinci brushes are essentially synonymous with high quality. This is a classic German brand that values quality material and careful attention to detail.
For oil painting, the Maestro line is particularly good. The Kolinsky Sable brushes are incredibly luxurious and will maintain the same precision point even after continued use.
These brushes are firm and the bristles spring back nicely while not falling out of the feral. Many customers who bought this product use them for painting miniatures and love the way they hold the paint.
There are many styles to be had in this oil brush brand that will suit almost any artist.
Furthermore, Da Vinci values the environment and makes their brushes out of sustainable wood
The set above is a Blick Exclusive that can not be found on Amazon.
The Princeton brand makes wonderful natural brushes, but their excellent synthetic brushes are what stand out the most. Princeton produces fantastic synthetic brushes, creating sturdy and dense brush bristles that can hold a point but have all the convenience of synthetic material.
The bristles are springy and hold decent loads of paint. Just be careful that you are buying the oil brushes as they also make brushes for watercolor.
If you prefer the durability and lifespan of synthetic brushes, as well as the smooth brushstrokes, but still want some of the technical benefits of natural brushes, Princeton is a fantastic brand to choose from.
I chose the Princeton Velvet Touch Series 3950 if you are looking for a set from Amazon.
Best Oil Brushes Straight From The Artists
Many of the best brushes for oil painting can only be found by the artist themselves and not in retail stores.
You may find that these brushes are more expensive than many of the popular retail brands. This is directly related to the quality of these personalized artist brushes which is worth the price you pay in my opinion.
Designed by artist and art instructor Michael James Smith, the professional brush set will perfectly match the kind used by the artist in his painting tutorials as these are duplicates of his personal brush sets he had designed for himself exclusively.
As of writing this review I was unable to attain photos but will have them in the near future. You can check them out with the link below for more details and by the way, he does ship to the U.S.
These brushes work well for both oil painting and acrylics, and unlike many oil painting brushes, they have short handles. The brushes are handmade and intended for painting images with fine details to get a rich photorealistic quality.
Similar to Bob Ross, artist and art instructor Kevin Hill uses a wet-on-wet technique when he oil paints, and he notably uses quite a bit of detail. With that in mind, his official line of oil paint brushes is well suited for a comprehensive and detail-oriented approach to wet on wet oil painting.
His line of brushes features both synthetic and natural hair brushes, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes for the optimum amount of variety. These brushes will be especially convenient for landscape painters, as they are designed with specific landscape painting techniques in mind.
As with many artist brands, but not all, his oil brushes can only be found on his official website for U.S. customers only at the time of this article.
I did find this e-book on Amazon if you are interested in learning more about Kevin Hill Painting Techniques.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are new to oil painting, there are some fundamental principles to remember when shopping for a set of good oil paintbrushes. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about oil painting brushes
What is Hog Hair Brushes used for?
Hog hair brushes are a preferred type of natural bristle brushes that are perfect for oil painting and acrylic painting. Hog hair is durable, flexible, and resilient making these animal fiber brushes well suited to hold and manipulate heavy paint.
The way the bristles are shaped is also convenient for painting: a broad base tapers into a tip with several fine filaments, creating attractive and neat brush strokes.
What type of brush is used for oil painting?
Two main features are typical for an oil paintbrush: strong brush bristles and a long handle. Oil paint is a cumbersome painting medium, so you need a sturdy brush that can control the material.
Oil painting brushes can be made with natural or synthetic hairs. The most common type of natural hair is hog hair, but other types of hair are also popular. For instance, sable brushes are considered a very high-end fiber for oil painting brushes.
Regardless of the bristle type, oil painting brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes to allow for maximum versatility in how the paint is applied to the canvas.
Which is best: Natural or Synthetic?
Generally speaking, natural and synthetic brushes can both work well with oil paints. It comes down to personal preference and how particular you are about the quality of your materials.
Synthetic brushes are more affordable and there are some very high-quality synthetic brushes on the market, but they can never fully replicate a natural brush. Additionally, synthetic materials can be damaged by harsh solvents and painting chemicals.
Natural brushes work particularly well with oil paints and the natural fibers will become more pliable when treated with the oil. However, natural brushes are more expensive and leave bristle marks on the canvas.
What Paint Brushes did Bob Ross use?
Bob Ross typically stuck to a few basic tools when making his paintings: a two-inch flat blending brush, a fan brush, a liner brush, and a palette knife. For the wet on wet painting technique, it is helpful to use natural hog hair brushes, which can best handle the heavy wet oil paint.
To paint in the style of Bob Ross, the brushes need to be durable and springy to effectively manipulate the paint and create the distinct shapes and brushstrokes that he so effortlessly pulls off.
Another tip: to achieve the Bob Ross style, be sure to get a metal palette knife instead of a plastic one, to have more balance and control.
What is the difference between oil and acrylic brushes?
Oil and acrylic brushes are very similar in design and use, and can often be switched out for each other. However, some important features of oil and acrylic paint should be on your mind when deciding which brushes to use.
Firstly, oil paint is very heavy, so whether you use a synthetic or natural brush, it needs to be tough. Since acrylic paint isn’t quite as heavy, a brush intended for acrylic paint might not be up to the task of handling thick globs of oil paint.
Another important point is how the paint can impact the brush material. For instance, using a natural oil painting brush for acrylic paint isn’t the best idea, as acrylic paint can damage the natural fibers.
My Opinion On The Best Brushes For Oil Painting
Overall, I find that a high-quality and sturdy synthetic brush set like the Pro Arte Sterling Oil Painting Brush Set is the best investment for oil painting brushes when starting out. The synthetic material will last a long time, is more affordable, and will work well with oil paint, making them the best oil brushes available at an affordable price.
If you want to get extra fancy and professional, you can’t go wrong with a nice hog hair or sable brush. Whichever material you choose, make sure the fibers are durable and springy, and that the brand is reliable and trustworthy.
I hope this guide was helpful and inspires you to expand your collection of quality oil painting brushes.