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Choosing Brushes for Use with OPEN Acrylics

QUESTION:
What brushes are best suited for use with GOLDEN OPEN?

ANSWER:
As with any artist material or technique, it is results that count, and brushes are no exception to the rule.  Indeed, which brush you choose can play a critical role in allowing these revolutionary paints to achieve their greatest potential.

When compared to GOLDEN Heavy Body Acrylics, the softer consistency of OPEN Acrylics can easily lend themselves to the use of softer-haired brushes. In fact, the typically stiffer bristles found in many brushes made for acrylics and oils, can have a tendency to plow through the OPEN paints, pushing them aside or else leaving a striated brush texture in its wake. Although these aspects may be optimum for certain techniques, such as scumbling, or be controlled somewhat with the finesse of a light touch, they can also result in frustration when trying to create layers with minimal texture or having a more uniform opacity. In contrast, softer-haired brushes can allow an artist to achieve smoother blends with OPEN Acrylics while also applying the paint more evenly, with less brush marks and better overall coverage. Each artist will find their own way with brush selection, and we suggest starting with a selection of softer synthetic brushes made for watermedia or oils. Although it can take some trial and error to find the brush that is perfect for every technique, in the end having the right tool for the job can make a tremendous difference.

In terms of clean-up, old habits die hard, and often for good reasons. Regular acrylic paints and mediums are extremely fast drying and will easily ruin a brush that is left out for too long, resulting in paint drying on the bristles or accumulating near the ferrule. Because of this, most acrylic painters have avoided using expensive natural hair brushes made from Kolinsky sable, Fitch or mongoose, or even the higher-end synthetics, fearing they can easily be damaged or destroyed by simply forgetting to keep the brushes in water or thoroughly cleaned throughout the painting session. With OPEN Acrylics, however, many of these longstanding fears can be substantially lessened and these softer brushes, which are so prized for creating smoother blends and finer detail, can be used with far fewer concerns. In fact, based on testing in our Lab, most brushes used in typical ambient conditions of 70F / 30% RH, should easily be cleanable with soap and water after even 12 hours of exposure. As with all things, however, these tests only provide rough guidelines and good studio practice should always be followed, especially when expensive or valuable brushes are involved.

It is also important to note that, like conventional acrylics, OPEN Acrylic Colors and Mediums are alkaline and over time can potentially strip natural hair brushes of essential oils, causing them to become increasingly brittle as well as losing their shape. To help prevent this, remember to replenish the oils by using artist brush cleaners or mild hair conditioners after cleaning the brushes with soap and water, followed by a final rinse to remove any residue. As synthetic brushes are not influenced by the paint’s alkalinity, they do not require these last steps.

On balance, softer synthetic brushes might be the best all-around choice for a painter working with OPEN and wanting a more uniform application, smoother blending, tighter detail, and less overall brush texture. Still, there are so many great brushes to work with, and happily OPEN can allow acrylic painters much more freedom when selecting from the broad array that are available.