PAINTING MATERIALS b) Brushes

It’s all a big game of construction, some with a brush,

some with a shovel, some choose a pen.

Jackson Pollock

LONG BRUSHES OK

Hog bristles, synthetic, squirrel, ox ear, Taklon, Kolinsky sable, Kevrin, interlocked extra white hog bristles, badger, pony hair… the choice is endless it seems. Next you need to choose the shape: point, flat, filbert or cat’s tongue are only the most common ones but you also find deer-foot, mop, dagger, liner, spalter, flogger, cod-tail and many other kettle of fish thrown in the basket. Finally you’ll need to decide the size… from a 10/0 (not much to look at there) to a 20 and beyond. Brushes are a world in themselves and you need to know more about them to help you choose the perfect one for your media and style… and so… first a bit of history

“The brush, made then from plants or feathers, is said to date back at least thirty thousands years”… this is a quote in a book I found but I always find these approximations strange to say the least. Surely, as long as man has existed he has tried to tickle his friend with a reed and she has caressed her lover with a feather… when did these natural brushes turn into official ones? When covered with ochre instead of water alone ? When used on walls instead of bodies ? Hum. I truly believe we have been painting for much much longer than the existing artworks tell us. Anyway, the earliest official brush info is much closer to us and written records of brushes made with hair are found in Chinese only from about 250 B.C. (now were talking calligraphy and painting of course) and in Nara, the capital of Japan from 714 to 794 ( known as Heijokyo then), production of calligraphy brushes goes back at least to then. A young company like Boku-Undo Co. (a secret dream of mine is to pay them a visit of course) has been making brushes there for ‘only’ 200 years whereas in Europe commercial brush making did not begin until the late eighteenth century. Max Sauer, established in 1793, still produces artist brushes under the name of Raphael.

Today however, there is a proliferation of brushes (and prices) sold under dozens of brand names when in reality very few actually manufacture the brushes available under their names. The reputation of the manufacturer can help you choose and a basic knowledge of how to test for quality and performance too. Hopefully what follows will help you check what to look for in a brush, understand the quality you are buying and the correct style and type of brush to accomplish what you wish… this being said I ain’t sure you can have TOO many brushes!

Before, we go into the details of types of hairs, shapes, etc. would like to know more about how a brush is made? Then you might enjoy my articles about visits to brush makers: “in bed with… two generations of Escodas” or “A journey of a thousand strokes starts with one good brush” just click on the titles.

Hairs, bristles and nylon filaments work as devices for holding and applying ink or paint due to their capillary attraction. Grouped together to form a brush and dipped into a liquid, the liquid will tend to be drawn up between the hairs and held in place. When the tip of the brush touches an absorbent surface, the liquid is transferred to it with the help of gravity. Thick paints rely more on pressure than on gravity to be transferred to the surface. (And of course you can paint with palette knives, bamboo reeds, fingers and zilch capillary attraction !)

There are two main characteristics that distinguish one hair from another, as well as hair from bristle and nylon filaments. The first and most important characteristic is the hair’s degree of absorbency. Hairs have scales, and the more scales, the greater the surface area to attract and hold liquids. This increased absorbency provides greater control in the application of inks or paints because they are held within the body of the brush, allowing for even flow off the tip of the brush. Brushes made of less absorbent hairs, or nonabsorbent synthetic filaments, accumulate liquids at the tip. Inks or paints can run quickly and often uncontrollably off the tips of such brushes during application.

brosse sec_2

Dry to wet   A) Squirrel mop           2) Sable                   3) Synthetic fibre

brosse mouille

Spring or stiffness is the second most important characteristic. The presence or lack of it in a particular hair will define how it can be used and with what type of liquid. The large variety of hairs, bristles, and nylon filaments, as well as the way they can be blended and shaped into brushes, provides a vast opportunity for differing styles of expression. Only by trying out and getting to really know your brushes though will you be able to take full advantage of this potential.

The following descriptions are of hairs, bristles, and nylon filaments that are considered in most countries to be both desirable and legal for brush making.

Sable: The name “sable” was made up by trappers to refer to the marten. The name “red sable” is used both for the weasel and the mink which comes from cold Siberia and Manchuria (also known as the kolinsky) and the finest sable brushes are made from its strong and dense hair. White sable and golden sable are merely trade names for synthetic filaments used as substitutes for animal hair.
Sable is chosen for its spring (the ability to return quickly to its original shape) and its point (the ability to return to a fine pointed shape). The shape of an individual hair resembles an elongated pear. There is greater width in the middle of the hair than at the tip, which is pointed. This hair shape is what gives sable its strength to spring back and to come to a very fine point. The strength of the spring and the length and fineness of the tip of the hair together determine the quality and the price of the brush.

Prices vary enormoulsy depending on the type of sable used. One very furious client nearly hit me when I told him the price of a N°12 Isabey Kolinsky brush  compared to what he had found for his wife on the internet! Of course, I tried to explain, what I sell here is a Rolls Royce not a Fiat Panda but he was totally unconvinced (maybe his wife will know at a glance how ‘cheap’ her present was if she got brown sable… and let’s admit I’m hoping she did !). Anyway, you my lovely reader, whoever you are, don’t be fooled.

Raphael Kolinsky

  • Kolinsky is a particular strain of mink that lived at one time in the Kola Peninsula in Russia and was the source for the finest red sable brushes. Today these are a protected species and “kolinsky” refers to the Asian mink. Hairs from the tail of this animal are highly prized and set the world standard for length (up to 6cms / 2 ½ inches), spring, and point… Only the tips are used, as only there is that perfect spring.
  • Red Sable is a large category, which includes hair from “seconds” of kolinsky and hair from the weasel. The finest red sable is always separated from the rest and called either “kolinsky sable,” “kolinsky mink,” or just “kolinsky.” Red sable hair has slightly less spring than kolinsky and is a little stiffer, and the tips are a little blunter but still makes fine-quality brushes when the hairs are selected for quality and are arranged properly during brush making. When hairs from the end of the tail, which are often thin and kinked, are used, and quality control is poor, the performance can be far less than that of synthetic “sables.”
  • Weasel is a Mustela, as is the kolinsky. The hair is similar, but of inferior quality, shorter and with less thickness, or belly. This hair is commonly used as a filler in sable brushes. Weasel hair is preferred in certain styles of Oriental brushes.
  • Sable or Brown Sable brushes that are not designated either red sable or kolinsky, are made of hairs obtained from varieties of the marten, or are left over from the production of the other sable brushes. The quality of brushes made from these hairs varies greatly, from a brush that is virtually useless to an adequate student-grade brush.
  • Synthetic Sables are known by many names. The two most common are white and golden sable and all offer some variation of nylon. The shape of the nylon filament is pointed at the tip, and the body is straight and uniform. Nylon has remarkable spring (even too much!) but no absorbency. This is a particular problem with watercolor because the color gathers excessively at the tip and runs quickly off the brush onto the more absorbent surface, making control difficult. However there are significant advantages to synthetic brushes. These include the cost of the larger-size brushes, which can be one-tenth the price of red sable, and in truth a good synthetic filament is better than a bad red sable!
  • Sabeline is in fact light ox hair dyed to a reddish tint so that the brush’s appearance will resemble that of red sable. It has springiness similar to that of sable, but it does not form a fine point when used to make a round brush, or a fine edge when used to make a flat brush. Consequently, it makes a poor brush and I would recommend a brush that is a blend of nylon and natural hair instead.

Camel: Don’t go run in the desert for that one, as camel hair is a trade term for various inexpensive, poor-quality hairs such as pony, bear, sheep, lesser grades of squirrel, or whatever else is available at the time. These are unprofessional and have no redeeming qualities, except that they are inexpensive and resemble artists’ brushes.

Squirrel: with one exception, is a thin hair with a pointed tip and a more or less uniform body. It is soft and absorbent, and it has a natural affinity for itself, which means that when a brush made of squirrel hair is fully wet, it can come to an exceptionally fine point. Squirrel hair, however, has little or no spring. A good-quality squirrel brush was never meant to be used as a cheap sable replacement. Its particular qualities make it ideal for watercolor wash technique and for the application of paints when an exceptionally smooth finish or fluid look is needed. A squirrel brush should be at least twice the size of the red sable brush that is used most often. Squirrel brushes that come in extra-large sizes are called mops, which describes their use as well as their appearance. These brushes hold a tremendous amount of liquid and make excellent wash brushes.
Soft hair brushes like these need to be thoroughly wet, and soaking them in water for five to fifteen minutes (the larger the brush, the longer the time) before use will remove trapped air and reduce the natural surface tension of the hairs. Using a brush like this upright, or perpendicular, to a level working surface will give a better result than holding it like a pencil. In the larger sizes, squirrel has to be shaped to a point, which the brush will tend to maintain if it is held upright and only if the tip and not the belly of the brush is used.

All this been said, true squirrel hair might not be here to stay much longer. Apparently it will be banned in the US soon and when that happens, as it is by far the biggest art supply market, most brush makers will stop making them I’m told. I have tried very convincing synthetic replacement from Escoda and Princeton though and in fact why ever not ? In truth I would rather know no animal has had to suffer for the ‘cause’.

Raphael mop

There are four kinds of squirrel that are primarily used in the making of artists’ brushes:

  • Kazan Squirrel (highly prized for its superb tip and elasticity, and is considered the best of the squirrel hairs used in making the finest watercolor brushes)
  • Blue Squirrel (is longer and of slightly lower quality)
  • Taleutky (stronger and longer, it’s primarily used to make lettering quills)
  • Canadian or Golden Squirrel (shorter and thicker, it’s the only squirrel hair that possesses a “belly” and so makes a fine-quality watercolor flat and a reasonable alternative to the high cost of sable).

Hog, boar, and pig hairs are called bristles because of their stiff and coarse appearance. Bristle has a relatively uniform body with natural curve and a “flagged,” or split end. The curve is either removed or reduced during the boiling and preparation of the bristles. Interlocked brushes are made from hairs that have been boiled for only two hours so that some curve remains. An interlocked brush takes advantage of the curve; the bristles are assembled so that the curved bristles oppose one another. As with a broom, this helps keep the tip from splaying to give better control.

Raphael Paris classics row
One of the desirable characteristics of hog bristle is flagging-the multiple tips provided by split ends. The greater the flagging, the better the control. Currently, the best hog bristle comes from China, where there are more wild hogs.

Badger hair, which has a variegated black and white appearance, is not commonly used to make artists’ brushes. The one important exception is in blending brushes, for which it is excellent.

Mongoose hair is closer to sable in appearance and performance than it is to bristle. I often suggest this brush to oil painters as a great halfway house between the hard bristles and the floppier synthetic brushes or sable (sables are the best of course but beyond N° 6 are really an investment and don’t often exist in shops in flat either because of their price). Mongoose’ tip of the hair comes to a tapering point like sable, but the belly is much thicker and therefore stiffer. The hairs, on average, are a bit longer than most sable. Mongoose is also similar in appearance to badger; both have a variegated colored body. Badger is often used as a cheap filler for mongoose brushes. One way to tell the difference is that mongoose hair has a dark tip and badger hair has a white tip.

Mongoose, like squirrel hair, should be banned soon in the US and so companies are inventing synthetic replacements… have tried the Mongoo from Isabey and liked it.

Miscellaneous hairs: Fitch, pony, and monkey, as well as the lesser grades of badger and mongoose hair, are animal hairs used in the making of Western brushes to produce less expensive alternatives to such hairs as sable and squirrel. These hairs are most often used as fillers. A percentage of sable will be replaced with fitch hair to produce a more moderately priced brush however their performance is unpredictable.

Hairs used primarily in Oriental brushes: dog, wild boar, Persian cat, horse, pig, fowl (for decorative feathers at the top or even entirely made of those!), mouse, rabbit, deer, raccoon, badger, squirrel, goat (and more specifically its goatee, chest and long upper leg hairs.) The coarsest and stiffest hair is that of the samba, the horse, and the back of the deer. The hair of the weasel and the inner arch of the deer is less coarse and stiff. The hair of the cat, sheep, and goat is softer, finer, and has less spring. Brushes made of bamboo resemble samba hair in coarseness and behavior.NAM goat brushes
Chinese brushes also use sable -usually made of high-quality sable- and some brushes called wolf which are usually a sable and weasel mixed, and are of a slightly lesser quality.
Samba, or Sambar, which is also called the mountain horse in the Orient, is a large Asian deer that is the source of a stiff and coarse hair used in the making of Oriental calligraphy brushes. The hair appears slightly kinked and has a variegated dark brown and tan appearance.
Synthetic fibers: There are now on the market many ranges of synthetic fiber brushes…. from synthetic interlocked ones of the highest quality (as Raphael’s Sepia range, Isabey’s Isacryl, Princeton’s Catalyst), to Taklon brushes which are great for watercolours: Escoda’s Perla, Princeton’s Neptune (in Australia check out the famous Robert Wade NEEF range) or the fine and cheaper synthetic fibre golden Kaerell which is truly versatile, can go across many media and does a good enough job… you will just have to try them and see if they suit your style.Isacryl 6572-012

Silicone Shapers: Although they have no hair whatsoever, these “brushes” -originally designed as a ‘replacement finger’- are a great tool that allows you to apply and remove acrylic and oil paint with ease; blend, smudge and define pastels; apply and remove masking fluid; create decorative effects on glass, ceramics and metal.
Their silicone tips are amazingly durable as it does not absorb paint like a brush so it can be cleaned simply with a wipe – dried paint, masking fluid and glue can be peeled right off! Colour Shapers are extremely useful when working in the fine detail of your work, whether in paint, pastel or charcoal as you can pick up the smallest amount of medium and control it with ease.
In the Colour Shaper range the Ivory tips are soft and designed to be responsive with fluids and soft colours. The gray tips are firm and offers a good amount of resistance for extraordinary control over polymer clay, heavy body and paste paints. The black tips are much firmer and best suited to sculpting, ceramics and modelling.colour_shapers_lg

Within each range, the Taper Point allows you to apply and carve paint, blend charcoal and pastel, create clear linear strokes and make broad forceful marks. The Cup Round moves heavy paint, controls thick colour, creates soft edged strokes and blends pastel and charcoal. The Cup Chisel allows you to adjust contours and edges, carve paint and remove paint, whereas the Flat Chisel will allow you to blend paint, mix paint on the palette and create flat even strokes of colour. The Angle Chisel creates expressive strokes, works from thick to thin and makes precise marks.

SELECTING YOUR BRUSHES

Because although each type of brush is designed to have the optimum performance with a particular type of paint or with a certain technique, nevertheless, if you wish to use, for example, a watercolor brush for oil painting, the only penalty you might suffer is that the brush will not last as long and will no longer work with watercolor and so the following are only guidelines… The rest is up to you!

A SELECTION OF BRUSHES recommended FOR WATERCOLOR

The process of watercolor is extremely sensitive to the quality of the brushes used. Watercolor paint is too light to pull together a badly shaped brush the way oil paint can; it is also too sensitive to hide any imperfections in the tools used. The finest paints and the most expensive papers cannot compensate for a brush that does not perform well. The selection of at least one fine-quality watercolor brush is an absolute must… and PS: watercolor brushes (especially the fat mops) perform best when they are soaked in water for a minimum of five to ten minutes before they are used to get rid of the air in the brush.

  • One (or two) very good round brushes… for detail and precison work. In pure sable Kolinsky? (bring your gold Amex if you want a size 12!) however even a size 1 will be a delight offering you
  1. Point: the brush comes to a crisp point which is maintained during use;
  2. Snap & Spring: the brush snaps crisply back into shape with the right degree of spring to allow the artist superior control between the brush and painting surface;
  3. Flow Control: The colour flows evenly and consistently from the point, with enough colour carrying capacity in the belly of the brush to allow flowing gestural strokes
  4. Longevity.

English or French companies such as Winsor & Newton, Isabey, and Raphael still make among the finest watercolor brushes available today. Escoda offers them at a more reasonable price, also some lovely travel ones like this…
NEEF Escoda 1214 pocketSables perhaps not just yet for you? Try and get the best synthetic you can afford then… in Australia the Robert Wade taklon ones from NEEF, are a very pleasant substitute… I love Escoda’s Perla range (only in rounds) and Princeton’s Neptune very wide range.

  • One (or two or three) very good flat brushes… for washes, for rendering edges or geometric shapes, and for filling in large areas.  Sable flats for watercolor have become increasingly rare because of their high price. Most people find it hard to justify the expense of a brush that is used less frequently. Try and get the best ones you can afford.
  • One mop… for washes and long brushtrokes without having to replenish your colour. From the best squirrel quality to the cheapest there are different qualities to suit your budget.
  • One hake brush, for long soft strokes.
  • One rigger or eye needle…. for extra long fine lines in continuous strokes (think branches, waves, etc.)
  • and why not add a filbert or cat’s tail for round shapes, a dagger for thick and thin strokes in the same tool, a angle shadder for blending and floating colour, and a fan for fun and fanning!

A SELECTION OF BRUSHES recommended FOR OILS/ACRYLICS

Quality is not as important in an oil painting brush as it is in a watercolor brush because the viscosity of the oil helps pull together and gives control to a brush that would be questionable for use with watercolors. This is not to say that quality is not important, but rather that the techniques are not as sensitive to small imperfections in brushes as are the techniques of watercolor. If you paint very fine and small, the quality of the brush becomes of course more important as you will need more precision… the finest sables should then be selected, regardless of price. Treat them well and they’ll be around a long time too.)
For all other techniques, there are too many variables, such as the size of the intended painting and the painting style to be used, to give specific recommendations. Generally however…

  • Oil bristle (hog, pig, or boar) brushes are used for the application of thick paint, for scrubbing and scumbling (a technique of applying a lighter, semitransparent color over the surface of a darker color), and to impart texture to the painted surface. Interlocked bristle brushes are somewhat more expensive but much nicer to use than those with noninterlocked bristles so ask about the ones you are contemplating buying as it is common practice to starch the hairs of a brush to help protect them from damage until they are sold and you should beware of lesser-quality brushes that have been heated, starched, and molded to look like interlocked brushes.
  • Sable brushes apply paint smoothly and consistently, while bristle applies paint roughly and inconsistently, giving a more impressionistic appearance to the painting. The stiff quality of bristle can leave streaks or gaps in the application of a fresh layer of paint, and this can allow the underpainting to show through for effect. Sables are used to create a more refined version of this technique by glazing (a small quantity of paint is dissolved into medium and applied thinly over another layer of paint so that the layer beneath can be seen through the top layer of paint).
  • Mongoose brushes offer fine fibres and sit somewhere between hog bristles and synthetic fibres. They offer soft subtle brushstrokes and are great for blending.
  • Synthetic brushes behave more or less like bristles but have more spring (and the good quality ones seem to also not mind solvents so much). I also like the fact that they rarely have a stray hair!
  • Colourshapers can be used for a total brush stroke free look.
  • With your acrylics paints feel free to also play with just about anything… old toothbrushes, feathers, sponges, rollers and of course palette knives!

And remember the saying “When in doubt… take a bigger brush.” (it sometimes works!!)

NOW choose a BRUSH SHAPE!
Not all shapes are available in all hair… Sables are usually rounds and mops usally squirrel but in the bristles and all the variety of synthetic you really have lots of fun shapes to choose from. Obviously they all behave a bit differently and can help you make different marks. Over time, you’ll probably want to try them all to discover what they can do for you. This being said, a lot or professional artists stick to their time tested brands, shapes and sizes like writers to their favorite pens! Following are the most common shapes…

  • Rounds are used for modeling shapes, precise details, retouching, finishing. You will probably need a few sizes of rounds.NEEF 95 round:bright:fan
  • Flats are flat long brushes for applying colour masses, backgrounds, diluted colours. You will probably need a few different sizes and a very large one for gessoing, glazing, varnishing is useful too.Flat Rapahel
  • Brights are flat brushes with less bristle exposed. They make more visible strokes and usually used in smaller areas.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Filberts are said to resemble worn flat brushes. So what is so good about a brush that has neither a point nor an edge? When paint is applied, there is little or no textural beginning or end to the brush stroke. Consequently, paint can be applied smoothly and the brush strokes that are left behind in the paint film are difficult to see. They also do a great curve. (I simply love that shape!)NEEF 95 filbert:flat
  • Cat’s tongues are more pointed at the end than filberts and so add the option of a line.NEEF 4600 squirrel
  • Mops, as you could expect from their name, are amazing at absorbing. They can carry across 3 times their weight in water (and colour), whilst making a great line.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Riggers, needle points and liners have extra long hair which come to a very fine point. They are obviously great at making lines or any kind of long thin stroke. The longer the hair the less control you will have however!KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Fans are used primarily to remove brush marks and texture but can also be used for special effects (twirls, highlights, random marks, dry brushing…). When blending, clean them frequently.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
  • Angle shaders and Daggers can create thin and thick strokes or you you can turn them on the side to vary the effect. It can also be used for blending and floating colour.NEEF 294 Taklon dagger
  • Deer Foot is for stippling techniques and creates great textures (you might also try it dry for foliage, fur etc.)NEEF 440 Deer foot
  • The American acrylic company Liquitex has just started making brushes and I just love their super short handle “Paddle brush” range and their plastic splatter flat and rounds (it feels you should drum with them rather than paint!)Paddle brushSplatter
  • Oriental Brushes… are a world in themselves. Japanese and Chinese schools of calligraphy (sumi) and painting (sumi-e) require quite different brushes depending on their “philosophy” and styles. I cannot go into the details needed to cover the subject (mainly because I feel I don’t know enough about them at this stage however you might enjoy a read of my visit to Houkodou a brush making company in Kumano, Japan.) If you use them “Western style” goat hair Hake brushes are great for long watercolour washes, and Sumi-e brushes for free ink and watercolour strokes while bamboo pens are great for scratching, hatching or any ink line making.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

How should you clean your brushes?

  • If you have been playing with watercolours and gouache: simply clean in tap water. Any traces of paint could also be washed in soap (for sables nothing you would not be willing to use on your own hair!) and rinsed but never use hot water on natural hair brushes as this preserves the natural oils in the hairs that protect them from becoming dry and brittle.
  • If you have been playing with oils: solvents such as turpentine or white spirit can be used. If these are a problem for you (or you wish something not quite so hard on your brushes) there are very efficient, solvent-free cleaners: Langridge’s Safe Clean-up, Art Spectrum Brush and Hand cleaner, The Masters Brush or hand cleaner and Chroma’s Incredible Brush Cleaner (which it really is!! and even gets rid of very old dried paint).
  • If you have been playing with acrylics: you have to be vigilant as acrylic dries fast (probably best to wash them a few times while working because the paint that is trapped near the ferrule is drying while you are working with the tip. Small amounts of paint buildup in this area will not wash out once dry and will eventually render the brush useless). Water does the trick of course but above cleaners can help with dried paint.

How should you store your brushes? After a brush has been cleaned it should be reshaped and allowed to air dry thoroughly before being stored. The best way to allow a brush to dry, particularly a large brush, is to hang it with the tip down. This will help prevent moisture from being trapped in the ferrule, which would cause the brush to rot. When dry -and if you do not use them daily- you can store them in a Japanese brush holder. This resembles a bamboo placemat with a string attached at one end. Brushes are simply rolled into the mat, which permits the circulation of air and protects the brushes from moths and cockroaches. Moth balls, or flakes, provide extra protection and are particularly important when storing brushes in drawers. (Ricard Escoda suggests you give them a little olive oil massage before using them again after a long storage.) Brush totes with stainless spring coils also exist and they holds brushes securely into place and away from moths. They are also invaluable if you go to classes etc. as you can carry them around safely and place them in there wet to dry evenly.

BRANDS (available in Australia) I CAN RECOMMEND (at this stage… always learning!)

Omega & Escoda are Italian and Spanish brands which make Beautiful BIG Bristle Brushes… For spalting, chunking, flogging, glazing, varnishing… they are the best ones (anything worse than a brush loosing hair while varnishing?) and surely you’ll need at least one BBBB (you can paint with them too!). Escoda also makes some beautiful sable brushes and some great synthetic watercolour mops and more traditional brushes.

Raphael & Isabey make some of the best loved models of exquisite brushes incl. the Kolinsky sable range (personally I like them better than the N° 7 Winsor and Newton range, she murmurs), the Kevrin, Sepia, Memory and Siberian fitch range and the Squirrel quill mops… They also make a few odds ones, like the two header chiqueter brush or the black bristle flogger!

Isabey 5760 -013Raphael and Isabey have been known as the Rolls Royce of artists’ brushes for centuries because, unlike many other brush manufacturers who buy pre-dressed hair, every brush is made completely from the company’s own selected fibres. All brushes are double-set or glued into the base and only the finest quality ferrules are used.  Of course they are more expensive… however all these brushes will be a pleasure to work with and still be there when you’ll have thrown away all your other ones!
More recently they have ventured into synthetic brushes and I love the Isacryl stiff long handle (very elegant if you ask me) in round, flat, bright and filbert and the Kaerell Bleu short handle value range in round, flat, bright, filbert, liner, extra long liner, angle shader, spalter and fan.

NEEF produce a lovely range of Robert Wade Taklon short handle watercolour brushes in round, flat and long flat, comb, rigger, dagger, rake, mini liner, angle shader and fan. They also make many other brushes for all occasions but my other favourite range is the 95 Stiff synthetic long handle in round, flat, bright, filbert and fan (and I’m a fan too!)

PRINCETON is a brush company I am only beginning to really appreciate as they have not been around for a long time down-under. North Americans probably know them best, as this where they are from. I do like their synthetic range for watercolours and acrylics, and am told their sable substitute is pretty good too.

PS. Apologies to all the other good brands I might not know… please send your comments with other true favorites and I will post them. 

PPS. Much of the serious info in this page comes out of the great Art Hardware book by Steven Saitzyk… thank him for his incredible research and blame me for the more personal judgments and comments!

 

To go directly to related pages, please click on the underlined pages below

IV. PAINTING MATERIALS

IV. a) an introduction

IV. c) Palette knives and other ‘instruments’

IV. d) Palettes

IV. e) Easels

Please share

2 Comments Add yours

  1. terry shorter says:

    very interesting reading information like this is very handy to the beginner and saves money and heartache in there selections of product.
    I like Neef and taklon brushes not to expensive for learners
    I also have a few sables picked up overseas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s