How to use a Flat Paint Brush

Learn how to use a flat paint brush with some of my favorite painting techniques. We’ll discuss how and when is the right time to use one.

* This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase, I could make a small commission at no charge to you. Please read my Disclaimer and Privacy Policy HERE.

A Mixed Media paper pad with hot pink and turquoise green practice brushstrokes. There is a large hot pink circle, pink and purple blending, a green evergreen tree, a square, and lots of other brush strokes creating bold texture.

Welcome to the first installment of my brush series, where we’ll explore the many techniques and uses of different paint brushes. Most people just beginning to paint struggle to know which paintbrush is best to use for any certain technique. That’s exactly why I created this series!

The first brush we are going to talk about is the flat brush, one of the most versatile and commonly used brushes in painting.

A large 3/4 inch and a small 1/4 inch flat paint brush laid on a paper palette pad with green and pink dollops of paint on it.
Flat Brushes

In my examples in the video below, I have two different sizes of flat brushes, a large 3/4 inch and a small 1/4 inch. The large flat brush is probably my favorite and most used paintbrush! 

Flat Paint Brush Acrylic Painting Techniques

There are many ways to use a flat brush! I am sharing some of my favorites below.

Covering Surfaces

The large flat brush is perfect for backgrounds and blending. You can quickly fill in a section by using the wide bristles brush to cover surfaces. Make sure you load your brush up with plenty of paint. You will know you have the right amount if it glides smoothly.

A large flat brush making a brush stroke with hot pink paint in a paper pad.
Large Flat Brush

If you start seeing streaks of gaps in your paint, don’t make the common mistake of continuing the add a wet layer onto a wet layer of paint. You will end up with gloppy paint and not successfully covering the streaks. Instead, let the first layer dry and then put a second coat on.

Dry Brushing

Another technique I love to use a large flat brush for is dry brushing. This technique uses very little paint on the brush which is why it is called “dry brushing.” With that little bit of paint on a dry brush, lightly drag it across the painting surface to achieve a rustic or textured look.

A large flat brush making a brush stroke in the corner of a paper pad and the result of dry brushing leaving a textured look.
Dry Brushing


A flat brush is great for blending two paint colors to create a gradient effect. When the colors are still wet, overlap them to blend. Move quickly when blending to get that nice transition. Get my full Basics in Blending Acrylic Paint lesson on my blog HERE.

Using a flat brush to blend purple and pink paint together in a circular motion creating a gradient of color

This blending technique is great for painting skies, creating sunsets, water, etc. I’ve used this technique on more paintings than I can count! 

Bold Texture

The next painting technique I like to use a flat brush for creates bold textureThis is actually one of my favorites because it’s messy and free! This texture is created with what I call the Art of Not Blending.

A close up image of turquoise and white brushstrokes that are not blended together. A small flat brush painting a few pink brushstrokes on top of the others.

Use a flat brush to overlap colors in short, quick brush strokes in different directions.

Don’t stay connected to your canvas. Be sure you are picking your brush up and setting it back down so you don’t over-blend.

Completed painting of a pink, purple, green and blue painted Spring Path surrounded by equally colorful trees
Learn How To Paint A Spring Path Using The Art Of Not Blending Paint Colors

I highlight my Art of Not Blending technique in my Spring Path painting tutorial HERE. Check it out to learn how to layer different paint colors without making them look muddy.

Straight Lines

Flat paintbrushes are ideal for making straight edges. Use a flat brush for straight edges when painting shapes like squares or rectangles.

A closer look at painting practice in the mixed media pad

It’s also perfect for creating a smooth horizon line. Load with plenty of paint and pull in one smooth direction across the canvas.

Easy Evergreen Trees

One of the last things I want to show you about painting with a flat brush is a super easy way to paint evergreen trees.

Start with a tree trunk as an outline and use short strokes to create the branches. Overlap the brush strokes to widen the foliage as you work your way down.

This is by far one of the easiest ways to paint some quick evergreen trees. Check out the video below to see how simple these trees are to paint. Get a more in-depth lesson on how to use a flat brush to paint evergreen trees and create shadows and highlights in your paintings HERE.

Remember, these are just a few techniques you can use with a flat brush. Experiment and see what works best for you. I highly recommend grabbing a mixed media pad and working through these brush strokes until you are comfortable with them.

With practice, you’ll master the flat brush and be able to create a variety of beautiful paintings using these techniques. 

Learn All About My Favorite Flat Paint Brush Painting Techniques

There is a ton of valuable information inside this quick video, and I hope it helps you along in your painting journey! Whether you have never painted before or you’re just perfecting your technique, you can find lots of tips and tricks here! 

Watch How to Use a Flat Paint Brush

Download your FREE brush guide where I give you a breakdown of what brushes to use for what techniques and how to take care of your brushes, so they keep their shape and last you a long time!  

image of a two page resource with images of brushes, strokes, and text. A coral circle with the words "Grab the FREE Artist Paint Brush Guide" and an arrow directing to click

Learn more about paintbrushes in my Acrylic Paint Brush Series

Post a picture and share what you learned on The Social Easel Facebook Page!

Stay creative!!

If you would like to be notified before I go Live on Facebook with a fun art tutorial, text “Hey Friend” to 417-217-7044.