Art Supplies: The Skinny on Brushes

Ordering art supplies can be a daunting experience. It’s hard to know what kind of paper works best, which set of oil pastels to buy and what will end up gathering dust. In this series of posts, I hope to shed some light on the most popular art supplies for elementary school kids.

Today’s Feature: Brushes!

Having the right brush can mean the difference between a satisfied artist and a frustrated one. It’s taken me a while, but I now have a favorite brand and feel confident recommending it to you:

Royal Big Kid’s Choice Soft Grip Brushes








($87.65/72-pice pack) 

I love the plastic handles and the soft rubber grip. The plastic handles mean that you won’t have to deal with peeling paint typical of the wooden brushes. If you’re not an art teacher who will benefit from the assorted sizes, don’t worry. The brushes come in smaller packs. The ones I use most often are the large red square tips and the large green round tips. The small green tips are especially useful for applying a black painted outline. I do this often so a small brush is very important in my art room.

If you are a classroom teacher, I don’t recommend packs. They just aren’t necessary.  For most tempera and watercolor paint projects any school grade medium round brushes (size 8 or 10) will do the trick. These are all you need. For detailed work, have on hand some  small round brushes (size 2 or 4). I don’t have a favorite brand but my advice is to look through an art catalog like Dick Blick, Sax or Enasco and search for brushes designed for tempera and watercolor. Buy whatever fits your budget.

Crayola "So Big" brush

For Kinder through to at least 3rd grade, stock up on enough Crayola “So Big” brushes for the class. I’m not brand particular here, so just buy the cheapest ones. The idea is to get the paint on the paper as fast as possible.

If you like to use acrylic paint (I don’t) then you’ll need stiff bristle paint brushes that can stand up to the paint. The pack on the left is about $15 for 24 brushes. Remember, if you use acrylic paint, you must clean your brushes very well. If not, plan on throwing out those brushes.

I have collected many different types of brushes and the ones I always wish I had more of are oval wash brushes. These are the large soft brushes that can absorb lots of water–or watercolor paint in my case. I like to use them to apply a broad layer of watercolor paint over a resist like oil pastel. Kids love the ease of the paint application and it’s speeds up the art process too!

I hope you find this list a little bit helpful. If you have questions, chime in!


Helpful Links:

eNasco Art Supplies

School Specialty (Sax)

Dick Blick

This post contains affiliate links


  1. Those Royal brushes in the 72 pk look great! Where do you buy them, Patty??

    • Patty says:

      I just added a link in the post. I love these brushes and they are durable, too!

    • Patty says:

      Just added a link. I love the brushes!

      • Thanks, Patty! For some reason I couldn’t find them when I first looked on Dick Blick. I’m in the market for new brushes this year…. can’t wait to try these!

        • Denise Ferrell says:

          I used wooden handles the first year I taught art.. oh my they didn’t hold up at all. I have had the long handled clear acrylic brushes and have thought about this pack.. now I know I will order it.. Thanks Patty. I trust your opinion!! This blog has been such a support for me. Thanks Patty!!

  2. phyl says:

    I use the same Royal brushes, but we also use them for acrylics, when painting papier-mache or other sculptural projects. The kids learn how to clean them during use, and then one kid from each table is a brush cleaner at the end of class for the whole table. It’s rare that I find brushes not washed well, since I spend so much time “training” them! I also like the yellow Royal Big Kid brushes – they are a filbert and the rounded corners are really helpful. We also use the orange ones, which are cut at an angle – great for getting into tight corners.

  3. J. Cooper says:

    I absolutely love the Royal Big Kid’s Choice Soft Grip Brushes too. They are fantastic, and if cleaned properly can hold up for ages. The kids love the grips on the handles too.

  4. [...] out what brushes to use in the elementary school classroom. Read More…art supplies – Google Blog [...]

  5. Bought A Carolyn Kinder Brushed…

    [...] or the children in your lives. The art lessons in Deep Space Sparkle stem direct [...]…

  6. I am so glad you posted this article! While I was getting supplies organized for the beginning of the year I realized my brushes were getting to be pretty tatty. As I cracked open my Dick Blick catalog I realized there were a plethora of brushes available and have been looking for suggestions from other art teachers as to which brushes they prefer to use for watercolor and tempera. Unfortunately, all the teachers I know personally are on summer vacation and not checking their work email (I don’t blame them!)

  7. Kathy says:

    I am getting ready to order brushes for my students K-6. What kind of oval wash brushes have you found to be best and where do you purchase them.

    • Patty says:

      Hi Kathy,
      I don’t have a favorite brand for wash brushes. Since I don’t use them nearly as often as regular brushes, and thus the need for quality is less, I have always ordered the cheapest brush I could find. I almost always order from Nasco or School Specialty (SAXS)

  8. Robin says:

    Oh, How I wish this was posted LAST year!! I was beginning at a new school and had to use my money wisely for purchasing items for ART for the first time. I bought a few sets of “Royal Langnickel Natural Hair Classroom Value Packs”, by the third time using them, the blue paint was flaking off. By the end of the year, I have some brushes with almost ALL the paint missing, which leaves a rough stick underneath. If I had a chance to do it over again, I would definitely spend the extra money and buy the SOFT GRIP ones.

  9. [...] enough reason not to use them. After the drawings are done, I set out the trays of paint, brushes (medium all-purpose brushes) and let the kids play. I don’t overwhelm the children with any techniques. I let them [...]

  10. Dale Adams says:

    Hi! If you care to update your Dick Blick Link for the Soft grip brushes it is:
    I am going for it!

  11. [...] the drawings are done, I set out the trays of paint, brushes (medium all-purpose brushes) and let the kids play. I don’t overwhelm the children with any techniques. I let them [...]

  12. says:

    Hi Patty do you know of a supplier in Australia that sell the Royal Big Kid’s Choice Soft Grip Brushes. I’ve tried several of our big suppliers and they don’t have that brand or anything similar. I really want to purchase a set.

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