To paint with effect, it is of the first consequence to have the brushes well selected, and of the best quality that can be procured. They are of various kinds: - of hog-hair, sable, badger, fitch, and goat-hair. Of these, the most useful are the hog-hair, sable, and badger brushes. The black fitch and white goat-hair are but seldom used, as the sable and hog tool will effect all that can be done by the former. Nothing can be superior to a well-made, fine, white bristle tool, in larger work; or to a good red sable for details.

Hog-Hair Tools

These brushes are made both round and flat. Flat hog-hair are generally more useful than round ones; they are preferred, as assisting in giving a squareness and crispness of touch. They should be strongly and neatly made; and in selecting them be sure that the hair has not been cut at the points, for this is sometimes done with inferior brushes; but such brushes have an unpleasant and coarse touch, laying on the colour in a scratchy manner. It will be found to be a good test, if they be made of a very fine silky-looking hair, and be very soft to the, touch. They should however be firm, yet elastic; springing back to their form after being pressed laterally upon the hand. Lastly, the shape should be fiat and wedgelike, without straggling or diverging hairs. Let the handle be of cedar, and polished; the cedar is pleasant and light to hold, and being polished is easily cleaned. The old white pine handles, sooner becoming ingrained with colour, are both dirty and disagreeable to work with.

Sable Brushes

The observations regarding hog-hair tools will apply to the sable tools; but these latter should have the additional property of coming to a fine, yet firm point. Be careful in choosing sable brushes, the hair of which is of a pale yellowish cast; and see that the brush is firm, and that it springs well to its point. The round sable tool is as serviceable as the flat one, and is used in working the finishing parts of a painting. Round brushes in quills, known by the name of sable pencils, are also applicable to the same purpose. Pencils that bag or swell where the hair is inserted in the quill, or the hairs of which diverge and form several points, are worthless.

Badger Tools are of various sizes; and. the hair, instead of coming to a close end or point, as in other brushes, diverges or spreads out, after the manner of a dusting brush. When good, the hair is long, light, and pliant, of a reddish brown or black, with clean white ends. The chief use of the badger tool is to soften or sweeten broad tints, such as skies, water, distances, and the like; it is a very valuable assistant to the young painter; but must be used with caution, because its injudicious use frequently destroys forms, and produces woolliness. If the badger tools be much employed on a large surface of colour, the points of the hair frequently become so loaded with colour, that it is necessary to clean often. This is best done by pinching up the brush rather tightly at the ends, and wiping it on a clean rag. The brush is thus kept free from colour during the progress of the work, which might otherwise be sullied and deteriorated in the purity of its tones. The badger brush is also useful to the landscape painter, for carrying minute points of colour into those wet parts of the work which require to be lightened, enriched, or varied.

Cleaning Brushes

All brushes, after being used, should be carefully cleaned. This is best effected by immersing the hair of the brushes in a little raw linseed oil; the oil should afterwards be washed out with soap and warm water, till the froth which is made by rubbing the brushes on the palm of the hand is perfectly colourless. The brushes should next be rinsed in clean water, and the water pressed out by a clean towel. The hair should then be laid straight and smooth, and each brush restored to its proper shape, by passing it between the finger and thumb, before it is left to dry. Care should be taken not to break the hair by too violent rubbing, as that would render the brushes useless. Many painters use turpentine instead of linseed oil in the cleaning of brushes; it effects the object more quickly, but the only use of turpentine that should be permitted, is to rinse the brushes in it slightly, when it is required to clean them quickly; on no account should they be permitted to remain soaking in the turpentine, as this practice is certain to injure the brushes, rendering the hair harsh and intractable, and frequently dissolving the cement by which the hair is held in the socket of the handle.