Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Princeton Brushes

One of the great companies I recommend for those looking for good quality synthetic brushes is Princeton. Though they also make beautiful looking sable brushes (see the Siberia range), the ones I've tried have been the really good range of synthetic squirrel and sable brushes, in interesting shapes and sizes. These ones are really lovely. My absolute favourite is the 1" Mottler - I carry one of these little cuties with me every day in my little travel kit! It has a precise tip and is great for doing quick washes or wetting the paper in preparation for a wash and the short size it prefect for travel. for studio work the 1" short handle is great. I like the interesting tip to these green handles - it gives another painting tool for scraping paint.

Some of the Princeton Neptune brush range
The Neptune range is synthetic squirrel, so fairly soft hairs. I find this works best for the larger brushes.

For smaller brushes I prefer a bit more stiffness.

Below are some more sizes of the Neptune range, including the 1/4' Dagger and the 1/4" flat. The Mottler is there for size comparison. This brush has done some travelling!

Princeton brushes from the Neptune, Select and Elite ranges.

Sable hair is firmer than squirrel, and is what I tend to use for smaller brushes. The Princeton synthetic Kolinsky sable range is the Elite. You can see two of these at the bottom of the picture above. The number 6 flat shader is great for creating windows or other regular rectangular or square shapes, as well as general painting for those who like flats. It is also terrific for creating colour mixing charts ;-) The Elite rounds are nicely pointed and easy to control. There is also a Heritage synthetic sable range.

Another interesting range is the Select. A number from this range are shown here with the blue handles. There are some special purpose brushes in this range, such as the Filbert Grainer and the very useful Scumbler - perhaps designed for acrylic but really useful fo scrubbing out in watercolour or cleaning up the odd accidental splatter. It seems to be called the 'Fix it scrubber' on the website now.

There are many brush sizes and brands to look at, and it can be difficult to choose what to buy. I'd always suggest getting fewer great brushes rather than lots of cheapies. A good brush becomes an extension of your fingers :-)

2019 update
I was sent this rather nice set of Princeton brushes, so I can show a few more of the range. It includes the size 6 mop and the ½" flat along with a size 8 round and my favourite 1" Mottler.

Happy painting!


  1. Hi Jane. Have you used any of the Princeton Aqua Elite 4850 series brushes? If so, what are your thoughts on them? How do they compare to the Neptune's? Which do you prefer? Thanks.


    El Paso, Texas

    1. I have not tried the Princeton Aqua Elite 4850 brushes. I would guess they would be firmer than the Neptune range since they are synthetic sable where the Neptunes would be synthetic squirrel. The look great!