Brushes with greatness

Even though I have a trove of brushes, sorted by handle length, there are certain brushes that I gravitate toward over the last few years.

I really haven’t indulged my inner brush connoisseur and only recently allowed myself to get a couple of brushes that are fairly costly, in comparison, with my usual go-to brushes.

What I have noticed, again and again, is that I have a tendency to reach for the same brushes, again and again, to solve the problem of spreading paint in a particular place. I won’t notice it until I have it ladened with paint and poised to roll it onto the canvas, and I suddenly realize, this brush is going to make the exact same mark as I have employed before. A scumble here, a stroke there.

But there are those special brushes. These are the ones you will reach for like a good-luck talisman to embark on the love affair that is each painting.

In most cases, it is a bit of reinforcement. “Ah.” My choice is the correct choice. “See? I paint similar colors over the same spot, because, by God, it makes the most sense to reach for that brush.”

Other times, it’s like a haunting accusal of being stuck in a rut. Being predictable. “Hey, You’re leaning hard on that ‘late manner’ they always talk about regarding painters that get to grow old and still paint.” Our Impostor Syndromes chase us far into our later year, I assure you.

But there are those special brushes. These are the ones you will reach for like a good-luck talisman to embark on each love affair that is each painting. Face it. Some of those affairs are really wonderful and worth revisiting, and other trysts are good for the moment, but it’s best to move on.

The brush I have photographed above is my favorite brush for making the initial marks on a painting. You can see, the synthetic fibers have been rubbed down to the nubbin.

But there is something about the way this brush feels in the hand. It’s got a short handle, which is odd. I usually only get totally crushed out on the long-handled brushes. Like the round and the flat brush abstract artist, Robert Ellis gave my husband during an interview. He gave them to me and I have made several repairs on them, I love them so much. They are for larger paintings than I usually work on, so it is a privilege to hear Bob’s voice say in my ear, “Don’t choke that brush. Hold it down at the end.”

This year, I might indulge myself with a few new, expensive brushes I am sure to fall in love with. I look forward to the discovery.