This was a question I have been asked a few times, especially when a learner wants to be able to paint something specific like hair for example. Learners can get very hung up about techniques and how to learn them. Techniques need to be thought of as ways to apply or remove paint to create a visual effect, that is all they really are. Some techniques are extremely simple although at first glance you may not be able to tell how the painter achieved the effect. Some techniques are more complex and require more of a knowledge of materials.
I recommend five brushes for beginners which should give you a lot of scope with your painting. It is important to have more than one brush and more than one brush type when you are a beginner. You may not want to buy many brushes but these 5 are the most useful in my view.
- Large flat brush
- Medium sized angled flat brush
- Medium sized round brush
- Small round brush
- Medium sized filbert brush
These five brushes will give you flexibility in how you paint and each brush can do a slightly different job. Another brush that is handy is the fan brush, this brush is fan shaped and ideal for light texture.
Most beginners buy a pack of brushes, this is often less expensive than buying brushes individually. Look out for a pack of brushes containing these five types of brushes. Starter brush packs are ideal for beginners but do make sure they contain brushes of different sizes, some contain brushes which are basically the same.
I would recommend synthetic brushes for beginners, they are less expensive than natural fibre brushes and are all-purpose which means you can use them for everything.
Also see my Art Materials page for more advice.