I love exploring different types of brushes and exploring what they can do. There are some great shapes and sizes and brushes can be used to create a range of effects. The problem is which to choose? What type of hair? What size? What shape?
|Princeton Neptune range of faux squirrel brushes.|
As natural hair has been harder to get in the US, due to changes in customs regulations, more companies are creating better synthetic versions of sable and squirrel brushes. I hope to try more over time. I am quite impressed with the Neptune brushes by Princeton, seen left. I particularly like the very cute 1" 'Mottler' brush - its short handle makes it very convenient for travel and plein air sketching. These are definitely soft brushes, with good water-holding capacity.
Roymac have been creating some good synthetic brushes for a while. Escoda has launched a range of synthetic sables that have reviewed well too. See Parka's review of the Versatil range here. Da Vinci brushes are excellent and come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and hair types. Their maestro sable and travel brushes are gorgeous - I love the size 8. You might also consider Isabey brushes.
For acrylics I prefer synthetic brushes, though I sometimes use some synthetic brushes to remove watercolour paint. And for oils I like hog bristle brushes with long handled sables for fine detail. I clean these carefully with vegetable oil and soap rather than turps.
I thought I'd share some great resources on brushes here. I plan to add to it over time. This first chart is from Dick Blick. It shows some of the many shapes available and what they might be used for.
|Chart from Dick Blick - click here for the link on dickblick.com|
These are, from left, Roymac 0 squirrel - I love this one though Art Basics also make a very similar one for less $; Rosemary & Co 1/4" sable blend; Rosemary & Co 1/4" Kolinsky sable; Michael Wilcox Large sword liner (synthetic) and small sword liner (synthetic); a Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin size 14 and the Neptune Dagger 1/4". Liz Steel shows more in her excellent post here.
Generally, synthetics are more 'flippy' and harder to control. The longer the hair the harder they are to control - great for random marks and vegetation. Squirrels are softer and hold a lot of water, sables are firmer though this long sable one (third from left) has a mind of its own!
This chart, also from Dickblick.com, shows how to measure a brush but also has information about different hair types.
|How to measure a brush and information on the hair types. Click here to link to the chart on the website|
Brush sizes are difficult to compare between brands as there is no one universal sizing system. This is the Blick sizing chart but a Blick size 4 and a size 4 in another brand may not be the same size at all.
|Brush sizing from Dick Blick. click here for the link to chart on the Dick Blick website|
For more on dagger and sword liners, see Liz Steel's post here.
For suggestions on a few brushes to use to get started in watercolour, see here.
For suggestions about travel brushes, see here and my website for more updated information at the bottom the page here.
For a great guide to waterbrushes, see here.
For more on waterbrushes see Parka's comparison here.
More to come....