Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Don't Just "Brush-Off" How to Select a Watercolor Brush

When I first started learning how to paint, I was told by my instructors to buy the best brush that I could afford.    When I started shopping for brushes, I was surprised at how expense a paint brush can be.    Needless to say, I did not heed that advise; after all, how different can paint brushes be?  Well, apparently more than I realized. 

The photo above gives some examples of different quality brushes.  I will discuss each one from top to bottom.
  1. Windsor Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Brush:  These brushes are considered to be some of the world's finest watercolor brushes.  They are made from only the finest Kolinsky sable hair in rust-proof, seamless nickel plated ferrules with black polished handles.  These brushes are made in England by hand by expert brush makers using standards set in 1866 by Her Majesty Queen Victory.  This brush comes to a crisp point and snaps back into shape during use allowing superior control and even color flow. 
  2. daVinci Petit Gris Pur Brush:  These brushes are made in Germany and contain a mixture of Blue Russian squirrel hair and a synthetic fiber that imitates squirrel hair.  This mix of natural and synthetic hair mix makes it a good choice for water and paint holding capacity and will come to a fine point. 
  3. Princeton SNAP Brushes:  These brushes are machine made from golden synthetic fibers and work well with water medium.  Princeton Brush Company was founded 25 years ago in Howard Kaufman's basement in New Jersey.  He was assisted by Naohike Takamoto from Japan, who assisted in the development of the Princeton line of brushes.
  4. Royal Langnickel Brushes:  Royal Brushes are machine made from a variety of materials, mostly synthetic, mix and/or sable.  These brushes are readily available at low prices for all types of painting medium.

The brushes above were listed by order of price from #1 being the most expense to #4 being the least expense brush.

When selecting a brush, I would recommend that a beginner select one medium priced brush that will work well.  An inexpensive brush can frustrate a beginner by loosing bristles in the painting, not holding a point, etc. and making the act of painting more difficult than it actually is. 

Don't think that just because a brush is made from sable that it is a good quality brush.  There are grades to sable.  Kolinsky sable is extremely expensive and is subject to regulation and control, thus the finest hairs are in short supply.  Experts feel that the finest watercolor brushes are made of the hair found only on the tips of the Russian male Kolinsky red sable's winter coat.  Lesser quality sable brushes will use a mix of male and female tail hairs and many have an excellent working quality.  Cheaper versions use "generic" red sale of the lowest quality hairs available and are quite inexpensive.  These cheaper versions can be perfect for crafts, but not fine painting. 

A good quality synthetic brush can mimic the qualities of a sable brush and be an excellent value for the beginning artist. 

So, don't "brush-off" the importance of a good brush!  Good brushes can be found without ruining your budget.

Happy Painting!

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