Paintbrush Handles

Handle lengths vary according to the type of paintbrush.
Learn more below

Handle lengths vary according to the type of paintbrush. In general, brushes used for watercolour and decorative painting have short handles, while brushes for acrylic and oil painting have long handles.


Short handles

Held in the hand like a pencil, and controlled with the hand and wrist

  • For details and precision work
  • For small surface areas
  • For use when seated at a workstation


Long handles

Held like a baton, and controlled with the entire arm, shoulder and body

  • For bold, sweeping strokes and expressive works
  • For large surface areas
  • For use when standing at an easel
  • For standing back from the painting surface



Synthetic bristle brushes for watercolour or decorative painting often have short handles for more precision work. They can also be used with acrylic paint for fine detailing. Natural bristle brushes for watercolour painting can also be used for oil painting.

You can also experiment by attaching a paintbrush to the end of a stick and have fun painting with a brush that has an unusually long handle.