Painting Curriculum 3: Tools

This video is a comprehensive look at the broad range of tools, both traditional and unconventional that can be used in oil, acrylic, ink, watercolor, and gouache.

Brush shapes & types, palette knives, cleaning tools, and more are explained. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Alex Rowe.

Video Walkthrough

  • How much does the price of the brush relate to the quality?
  • Brands aren’t that important when buying brushes
  • Go to the art store so you can physically touch the brushes
  • Choosing brushes is all about your personal taste and preferences
  • Acrylic brushes are softer and more delicate
  • Bristle brushes are coarser, but able to have more “power” as a brush
  • Brush shapes: filbert, flat, round
  • Liner brush: great for elegant lines
  • Brushes for Chinese painting
  • Water brushes are great for plein air
  • Cheap bristle brushes from the hardware store are good for gesso
  • Fan brushes are surprisingly versatile and give great effects
  • Palette knives: plastic vs. metal
  • Palette knives: flat vs. offset
  • Tools for scraping into paint
  • Literally anything can be a tool
  • 3D effects: syringes & pastry bags
  • Plastic dropper for ink gradients
  • Tube wringer is great for squeezing out every last drop of paint
  • Rags are good for clean up, but they are also effective as a painting tool
  • Blue shop towels vs. cotton rags
  • Window scrapers for glass palettes


The complete Painting for Self-taught Artists Curriculum document links to every video that expands on the topics touched here.

Full Curriculum

Overview · Painting 1 · Painting 2  ·  Painting 3

Art Supplies