5 Things to Look for in the Best Brushes for Chinese Brush Painting

Chinese ink got its start over 2,000 years ago, and it's still popular today. If you want to get into Chinese painting, you need that ink.

However, you also need the right Chinese brush. Even the best Chinese ink won't hold up with other brushes.

What makes a Chinese paintbrush unique?

Why Do You Need Unique Brushes for Chinese Brush Painting?

Many people have easy access to some type of paintbrush. Whether you have painted on a canvas or you live near a craft store, you can quickly get a set of brushes.

However, you shouldn't use just any brush for Chinese brush painting. Chinese brushes have unique properties that work well for the specific type of art.

Even if you have a vast collection of paintbrushes, you will need to get a Chinese brush before you attempt a Chinese painting.

The specific brush will make it easier to do some of the painting techniques. It will also be nice to have a specialized tool.

Still, there are a lot of Chinese brush sets, inks, and accessories. Before you choose any of them, make sure you consider what to look for.

5 Things to Look for Chinese Brush Painting Brushes

At first, you may think there aren't many differences between brushes. If you have a brush for one type of painting, it will work for other types.

Unfortunately, that's not the case for Chinese brush painting.

While you could use a traditional watercolor brush, you should use a Chinese brush specifically. You can take advantage of certain qualities of these brushes.

You don't need to be an expert, and you don't need the most expensive Chinese paintbrush set. However, you should get one or two brushes to start.

As you build your skills, you can add more brushes to your collection. Then, you find the right Chinese brush for a specific painting.

For now, consider some of these basic qualities when looking for your next Chinese brush.

1. Brush Stiffness

The first thing to look at when choosing a brush is the brush's stiffness. Most Chinese brushes are softer than average.

However, they can vary in stiffness, so you should think about if you want a stiffer or softer brush. Many Chinese brush sets have at least one soft brush.

A soft brush can soak up Chinese ink more efficiently. Then, you can paint more easily without having to constantly get more ink.

If you want to paint thinner lines, it can help to have a stiffer brush. You'll have more control over where the brush goes, which can come in handy.

While no Chinese brush will be super stiff, the slight variance is something to consider. If you plan to do a lot of Chinese brush painting, you can get a few brushes with different stiffnesses.

2. Brush Size

You should also consider the size of each Chinese brush you look at. Many Chinese paintings have some sort of thin line.

However, you may want a thicker brush for background colors and other elements. A thicker brush won't require as much time to cover a larger area.

On the other hand, it can be almost impossible to paint small details with a larger brush.

Similarly, you should consider how long the brush is. Think about how long the brush handle is as well as the length of the brush hairs.

A shorter, smaller brush is most likely the best for details. However, you should have a thicker, longer brush for other needs.

3. Brush Hair Type

Paintbrushes come in natural and synthetic fibers, and natural fibers are more common for a Chinese brush.

Popular fibers include goat hair, black rabbit hair, and weasel hair. Black rabbit hair brushes tend to be a bit stiffer than goat hair brushes.

Weasel hair is also on the "harder" side, but it's still softer than other fibers.

Some fibers, like goat hairs, are very absorbent. You can manipulate the shape of the brush when it's wet, which can be useful.

Weasel hair isn't as absorbent, but it's flexible. If you tend to paint quickly, a weasel hairbrush can keep up.

In some cases, you can also find Chinese brushes that use a mixture of fibers. While natural fibers are still the most common, combining goat and black rabbit hair can give you the benefits of each.

4. Brush Comfort

You should also think about how the Chinese brush feels in your hands. If you plan to do a decent amount of Chinese brush painting, you want to be comfortable.

Even if you have a lot of painting experience, a hard handle can be an issue. However, it shouldn't hurt to hold for more than a few minutes. When possible, test on the feeling of a brush before you buy it.

Feel how it sits in your hand and how it moves as you move the brush. While you can adjust your hand position, you shouldn't have to do so.

As long as you have a proper grip, your brush should fit nicely.

5. Ink Consistency

While it isn't as big of a deal as with other paints, Chinese ink consistency is something to consider. If your ink is more watery, you may want to avoid super absorbent brushes.

The water can get into the brush hairs, and it might make it hard to use. You could easily lose ink this way.

A good Chinese brush will be able to work with Chinese ink. This is another reason why you should choose a Chinese brush and not a general paintbrush, especially as a beginner.

The specific brush type will work better with the ink consistency that you find in Chinese brush painting.

The Best Brush

Whether you're new to painting or simply new to Chinese painting, you need the best Chinese brush.

Chinese painting isn't like other forms of art. It requires a unique set of tools, from the right brush to the correct ink and paper.

If you want to explore your creativity with Chinese painting, the right tools will help you get started.

Do you want to start or grow your brush collection? Check out our products to find the set for you.

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Kishnama Shunmoogum

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