Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Favorite Art Materials: Watercolor Brushes.

My lovely readers often ask me what materials I use, so I figured it was about time I made a series of posts on this topic. I do not claim to be the final authority on the subject of art supplies, and none of the companies mentioned have endorsed me. My sole intent is sharing some experience and knowledge, hope you find it useful:)

This very first post is all about brushes I use most. Let me start with a quote of renowned master watercolorist Charles Reid. In his book "Painting Flowers in Watercolor" he says:

Hard to disagree, isn't it? I only would like to mention that good brush can be a very broad definition, and it doesn't necessarily have to be super expensive. Even the old rough looking brush can sometimes do a wonderful job on certain objects, and feel just right in your hand.

1. Silver Brush Black Velvet Oval Wash, Size 1'' is a blend of squirrel hair and synthetic filament. It's my "work horse" brush. What I like most about oval brush is that it provides a variety of strokes and somewhat combines features of two shapes: round and flat, depending on how much pressure I apply to it. I use this brush for both broad washes and some detail work.

2. Da Vinci Quill, Size 6, is just a big bold watercolor brush that holds an incredible amount of paint and water. Perfect for washes, as well as getting around details. I find this brush to be lacking of spring a little bit, but other than that, It works great for loose painting and gets used very often.

3. Silver Brush Black Velvet Wash, Size 1-1/2'' is another combination of squirrel hair and synthetic fibers. This flat brush is ideal for large washes and laying in water.

4. Silver Brush Black Velvet Square Wash, Size 3/4''. This medium-sized, squirrel blend flat brush doesn't get used very often, comparing to others, but comes in handy when I need to paint straight lines for example.

5. Silver Brush Black Velvet Round, Size 16. A full bodied, medium-sized round brush like this one is a must have for me, since it is very versatile and can do the trick for everything.

6. Winsor & Newton Artist Pointed Round, Size 8. I love this Kolinsky sable brush for its excellent carrying capacity and beautifully pointed tip, which makes it perfect for long, continuous strokes, some washes and detail work.

7. Winsor & Newton Artist Pointed Round, Size 7. Being just a little bit thinner, this brush does essentially the same as Size 8 version.

8. Winsor & Newton Artist Pointed Round, Size 4. I use this brush for painting smaller objects, fine detail and lines.

9. Roubloff (Russian brand), Size 1. My oldest and tiniest sable brush. No painting is done without its participation, since I use it for signing my watercolors.

In the comments section, I'd love you to share your thoughts and preferences regarding watercolor brushes. What are your "must haves"?


  1. Не слышала о такой фирме silver velvet wash. А W&N как-то пока не впечатлил. У меня плоская, но маленькая, не помню сколько. Еще у меня есть Да Винчи-10 и 6 , круглые. Чистый sable. Так вот, на шестерка, весь кончик уже стер ся, такое расстройство, особенно если вспомнить ее цену. А вот от каких я в восторге, так это Princeton Neptune. Они мощность синтетические, но ни за что об этом не догадаешься, воду держат великолепно. И спасибо за обзор, очень познавательно!

    1. Мощность=полностью :-)

    2. Рада что обзор понравился:) А я не слышала о Princeton Neptune, надо будет посмотреть.
      А вы случайно не рисовали кончиком вашей кисти? Чарльз Рид пишет что нельзя этого делать, так как шершавая акварельная бумага разрушает хрупкий кончик. Нужно использовать сразу весь пучок.

    3. Рисовала, конечно:-) Я думала она такая многозадачная, для этого и покупалась. Спасибо, буду знать. У меня есть книга Рейда, но чтото я там пропустила этот момент.

  2. Thanks for the informative post! I confess that I have no idea what my brushes are made of... until now I've only been concerned with size, but that Reid quote is very convincing...:-)

  3. I think it really depends on one's style of painting. For very detailed work I think good brushes are important, but I sometimes use household painting brushes to get nice textures in my watercolors. My latest watercolor was painted with such a brush. If I am painting flowers I use my good watercolor brushes for the background because they hold a lot of water. It just depends on what you are painting.

  4. Thanks for sharing your collection. While I'm shopping for Kolinsky sables or comparable, I also truly like the Silver Black Velvet brushes. Do you have any experience with the Princeton Neptune as a comparison?

  5. I recently started watercolor painting and became quickly hooked. I have been enjoying trying out various paints, papers and brushes. Just got my first Silver Black Velvet brush (a size 6 round) on a whim and have already ordered more I love it so much. Hope your post means they are brushes that last!

    Marissa L. Swinghammer