If you spend money on nothing else as an artist, do yourself a gargantuan favor and please buy yourself a proper brush! I come from a watercolor background. That’s the type of paint media that I started out with and when it came to painting, the only media that I had used (initially). However, when I went to art school, I soon realized that most everyone else had their foundation in acrylics. So, there I was, being measured against people who had been painting with acrylics for a long time, who knew, already, what I had to learn… and quickly so that I didn’t flunk out. (First, I shouldn’t have been using watercolor brushes with acrylic paint. Second, a low-quality brush loses bristles and won’t flow (with consistency) where you want it to go.) Being graded by the same standards as everyone else, my grades were barely passing. It was humbling, if not outright embarrassing– one of the main factors being that I did not have the right tools (proper brushes for what I was doing).
So I learned an important lesson about brushes–that you need the right brushes for the medium. In order for you to create what is in your mind’s eye, you have to have control over what is going on with your brush. After I knew to buy the appropriate brushes, my grades quickly climbed and I vowed to tell other aspiring painters about it. So here goes:
For acrylics, you have to have a stiff bristle with good “flickability” (I doubt that is really a word!)–meaning, that the bristles of the brush are able to be completely distorted and are then able to snap back into place pretty much perfectly with a flick of your wrist. This is a characteristic of a good brush and will happen every time– if you have said good brush AND if you take care of the brush by cleaning and re-shaping it properly.
So, I’ve found that my favorite brushes (so far for acrylics) are the Robert Simmons (Titanium) ones because they have stiff bristles with nice flickability– which is completely wonderful as it is enhanced by a lovely, long silver handle, and the fibers flow precisely where you want them to go. So, don’t waste your time with cheap-o brushes (unless the lack of quality serves your purpose, i.e. you like to be really rough on a brush with your technique). Get ones that allow you to have good control. Trust me, like myself, you’ll enjoy painting a lot more.