The different parts of a paintbrush can be named and I really want to get better at referring to their names with my students so they can build up their vocabulary. The three main parts of a paintbrush are: the handle (where you grip it), the bristles (the synthetic or natural hairs that actually apply the paint to the surface), and the ferrule (the metal that connects the bristles to the handle). When you look at the bristles themselves, the very tip is called the Toe, the bulk of the middle portion is referred to as the Belly (where a lot of watercolor brushes hold their pigment), and the deepest connection to the ferrule is called the Heel. You want to make sure that paint doesn't clog up the heel but you also want to make sure you don't let water seep in there too much and start wearing away the adhesive that holds the bristles together!
Bristles can be synthetic or natural hair. Natural is best for oil paints, synthetic is best for water-soluble stuff. Brushes are also typically numbered on the handle according to their size (000 being the smallest...the bigger the number the bigger/wider the brush) but they vary depending on the brand of brush you use. There are so many brushes that are especially useful for specific tasks.....stencil brushes for dabbing, silicone "brushes" that are really just shaped rubber pieces that are good for sgraffito, palette knives for laying down thick color, toothbrushes for flicking splatters, pencil erasers for making dots, bamboo brushes for calligraphy, etcetcetc. The possibilities are endless! But here are some general types to get you started:
Round: the ferrule is rounded, bristles come to a point, and it's good for outlining and filling in small areas
Ask any of my students and they'll tell you: Mrs.Quam's BIGGEST pet peeve is when people just throw their dirty brushes and palettes into the sink and walk away! What?!? Oh no you didn't! No, no, we're gonna learn to clean up RIGHT. After you're finished painting, be it for the day or just to switch up colors, it's always a good idea to swish your brush in a cup of water vigorously and squeeze any excess water off the brush with a paper towel before reshaping the bristles and laying the brush down. If you have multiple brushes to clean, hold the brushes under running lukewarm water at the sink and then gently scrub them against your soapy palm until the water runs clear. Make sure all soap and ALL PAINT is removed from the brushes before you set them aside.... there's nothing fun about trying to use a hard brush the next time you go to paint because you didn't clean all the gunk out of the belly.