You've been painting for years and are likely to have an enormous stash of brushes. You've recently decided to expand your horizons and try a new medium. Or perhaps you are just getting started and aren't sure which medium will speak to you. You've heard talk that you should have a different set of brushes for each medium but you are hesitant--surely that advice is from a company or individual who wants to sell more brushes, right? Well, as it turns out, no. Keeping a separate set of brushes reserved for use exclusively with oils, acrylics or watercolors is good advice.
For starters, oil and water don't mix so if you use your brushes interchangeably between oils and waterbased mediums you create a compatibility problem. Residue in the brushes can cause bonding issues or areas of resist. Oil residue can irreparably stain a paper or acrylic coated surface. In some cases the desired hair content or brush shape may differ. For example, Oil painters and watercolorists often prefer a natural-hair brush while acrylic artists sometimes like a brush with synthetic bristles.
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Now that you know there there is indeed sound reasoning behind the admonition to isolate your brushes don't be concerned that you need to duplicate every brush you own or plan to purchase. I use the same brush series (these are a blend of natural and synthetic hair) as these series themselves perform well across all mediums but I have duplicates of certain ones that are reserved for each of the specific mediums. I prefer certain brush shapes depending on the medium and don't need a duplicate for each and every style so I add only as needed. For example, since I have painted primarily in acrylics for years I have most everything I need for this medium with a few duplicates, some by choice, others by chance.
|Au Sec brush series|
Since you aren't likely to be using each group of brushes simultaneously it is most convenient to keep brushes for each medium in designated carriers. If you don't have separate carriers for the brushes then segregate them within the same container and mark the handles with colored masking tape for quick identification.