I'm going to catch a whole lot of hell for writing this but I promised you from the beginning that I'm going to tell you the truth. At the present, I get no endorsements from any painting company so you know my assessment is bias free. I know there are many people out there starting out, trying to make ends meet and confused as to how to paint realist art well and feeling like they are somehow subservient every time they see professional artists bragging about their expensive brushes. Let's be honest. Does the brush make the artist or is the artist the master all he or she touches?
I haven't been a realist painter all my life. I didn't pick up a paint brush until I was 20 years old when I took my first painting class in college. I've said it before - I'm the son of a master carpenter and I started working with my father at age 9. I learned many important values from from my father, working as a carpenter's helper. One such value was that good tools were essential to creating good work. My father worked very frugal when it came to ordering a precise amount of materials but he bought tools that would not break down or produce a substandard, finished product. I hold onto these values when it comes to a good substrate (wood panels which I build), painting medium and professional quality paint. When it comes to these items I refuse to get anything but professional grade. What I don't agree makes much difference are paint brushes. Take a look at my cheap-ass brushes in the picture above. Most times they don't total over $4 a brush. I choose what feels good in my fingers and I prefer certain shapes for certain jobs. The work I do over time changes their look and feel anyhow and some I even trim to meet those demands. Does this make me a substandard realist painter? Maybe in the eyes of some professional painters it does, but when you look at the finished paintings I produce, my question is - DOES IT MATTER? I'm not exhibiting the damn brushes. I can do anything with a cheap brush that a trained artist can do with an overpriced brush. Better yet, SO CAN YOU.
My opinions might change in the future, but at this point, I'm telling you that you don't need to wait until you have the perfect circumstances to create great work. Get the best you can for now. Paint your heart out and don't feel less than anyone else or put yourself down. I hate getting emails from beginner and intermediate artists telling me how they don't feel adequate because they don't have everything it takes to be a "real artist." That is the wrong approach to a brilliant future and that's why I'm finally coming clean about my processes. I didn't always have the perfect circumstances either. Over time, it makes you stronger and more adaptable. Do the math from my price tags above - you probably have better brushes than me! What are you waiting for. Get in the studio and do great things.