Wow, received a sale catalogue from Jerry's Artarama not long ago and they had a great sale on hog hair filberts and flats. That's what I use, mostly filberts but flats are great for straight lines when doing boats, roof eaves, etc. 14 brushes for $35...not bad at all. They are cheapo brushes but with some quality in them. I don't use expensive brand name brushes since I'm pretty hard on them....so many swishes in the turpentine when cleaning them and they've had it. I've used a good brush cleaner and conditioner before but you know I don't really like spending time fixing brushes, I'd rather paint with them until they've had it and then I either keep them in a seperate can until I need that beat up brush for wild natural grasses that go every which way.
I'm not real big on buying the most expensive stuff for art since art really isn't about what you create it with....it's about what you sign your name to....not what you used to sign it. I know....lots of artists can give you all kinds of details about why they buy expensive stuff. Seems to me they are just going to pass that on to somebody and guess who that is?
Impressionist painters used to paint on wood scrapped from old packing crates when times were tough money wise...you and I can't afford one of those paintings so that's the lesson...it's not about what you use to make a painting, it's about how well that painting looks to the person who buys it or just stands there and enjoys looking at it. My French Companion I built from scrap pieces of wood in my garage and two brass plated piano hinges bought at Home Depot cost me about $6 to make and the paint for some great paintings have been mixed right there....and it still works fine and will be around loooong after I'm dead and gone and hopefully in the hands of some other painter.
My French Companion is well seasonsed now.....