What paint brushes Did Vincent van Gogh use?

Vanish Van Gogh experimented with various brushes, including hog bristle, sable, ox-hair, and camel hair, each with unique qualities. For bold strokes, he used stiffer hog bristle brushes, while for blending, he opted for soft and flexible sable-hair brushes. He also used brushes of different sizes, with longer handles to stand farther away from the canvas. The type of brush he chose was often dictated by the type of paint he used, with oil paints requiring stiffer bristles.

Vincent van Gogh used paint brush
A paintbrush used by Vincent van Gogh

In 1888, Van Gogh wrote a letter to his best friend Émile Bernard, where he did not mention which brush he use, but he explained what is the importance of using strong, bold brushstrokes to express emotion in his paintings. This is the latter.

The Different Brush Van Gogh Use

Van Gogh used different range of brushes, from

  •   Hog bristle brushes
  •   Sable hair brushes
  •   Ox hair brushes
  •   Camel hair brushes

Hog bristle brushes

Van Gogh’s choice of paintbrushes was as deliberate as his bold strokes. He favored hog bristle brushes, crafted from the hair of wild boars renowned for their sturdiness. Unlike other brushes, these bristles maintained their shape when applying thick oil paints, enabling Van Gogh to create his signature impasto effect. With their long handles and short bristles, hog bristle brushes allowed him to effortlessly execute his vision. Such brushes may wear out quickly, but their exceptional pigment-holding capacity and springiness make them great tool for expressive, textured art.

Good hog bristle brushes and alternatives today

Da Vinci Hog Bristle brush setArtisticDurable and perfect for thick oil painting.
Escoda Clasico Series hog bristle brush setArtisticThe brushes excel for Van Gogh’s impasto style; thick, textured layers are applied with ease.
Winsor & Newton Monarch Round Long Handle BrushArtisticHigh-quality synthetic bristles mimic natural sable hair for an ethical and affordable option with oil, acrylic, and watercolor paints.
Robert Simmons Signet BrushesArtisticDesigned for control and flexibility in oil painting.

Sable-hair brushes

Van Gogh’s oil paintings were made possible by the expensive and coveted sable-hair brushes. Renowned for their softness and paint-holding abilities, these brushes offer control and precision in creating perfect details and smooth lines. The Siberian weasel fur bristles are durable and come in different sizes and shapes, including round, flat, filbert, and fan.

Some good brushes and alternatives today

Winsor & Newton Series 7ArtisticTrusted by professionals for their resilient, high-quality hairs.
Raphael Kolinsky SableArtisticRenowned for its fine texture and impressive paint-holding capacity
da Vinci Watercolor Series 35ArtisticMade with high-quality Russian red sable hair, these brushes offer unparalleled spring and responsiveness.

Ox-hair brushes

Van Gogh favored using ox-hair, sable, and hog bristle brushes for his oil paintings. Ox hair’s stiffness allowed for bold strokes and texture, while its durability made it perfect for heavy paints. With long handles and short bristles, ox-hair brushes offered precision and held a lot of paint for thick layers and washes. Their springiness also allowed for color blending.

Camel-hair brushes

Van Gogh favored camel hair brushes for their ability to hold a lot of paint and create smooth brush strokes effortlessly. The fine and delicate bristles made from the high quality camel hair are soft yet strong enough to maintain their shape, providing excellent springiness for repeated use.

About the Author

Shojib Hoq

My name is Shojib, and painting has been my passion since childhood, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I absolutely adore the process of painting, pouring, and creating crafts.