My Watercolor Brushes
Hello everyone and welcome to my first scheduled Sunday post! I will be talking about my watercolor brushes today. These are the brushes that I currently use and some of them are definitely investments ($$$). I am not sponsored by any of the brands, but I do love these brushes and do plan on expanding on my arsenal in the future.
Anatomy of a Brush
This is the anatomy of a round brush!
Tip: Most round brushes have a pointed or rounded tip made of natural, synthetic, or a combination of fibers
Belly: This is the part of the brush where water and pigment is stored. The bigger the belly, the larger the water payout
Ferulle: This is where the brush fibers and the handle are connected and bound
Handle: Usually made of wood or acrylic
As a watercolor artist, I choose brushes based on several factors: I want a brush that can hold a lot of water, another brush that can whittle down to a very thin line, and another brush that can scrub my paper if I make a mistake.
Paint brushes can vary in brush shape, brush size, type of hair but for me round brushes are king. This is because I can manipulate the tip of the brush to get as large or as skinny of a line as I would like! I don’t really bother with other types of shapes like bright, filbert, or fan brushes because they are more suited for acrylic or oils.
Watercolor brushes can also vary in the type of fiber they have. There are several types on the market, such as sable, squirrel, ox, goat, hog, or synthetic brushes. My brushes are made of synthetic, squirrel, or sable fibers. My synthetic brushes are stiffer and good for scrubbing paper, but hold less water than natural hair brushes. My natural hair brushes on the other hand can hold a great deal of water and are better for blending. However, natural hair brushes can be pretty expensive, so if you’re starting out with watercolor and don’t want to drop a bunch of money on a brush, then I would suggest going with synthetic brushes until you’re comfortable.
Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 - Size 00
Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 - Size 2
Princeton Artist Brush Co. Snap! Golden Synthetic Round -- Size 10
Princeton Artist Brush Co. Snap! Golden Synthetic Round -- Size 12
Isabey Original Siberian Blue Squirrel Quill Mop — Size 03
Craftsmart Flat wash brush - Size 3/4 in
So I ordered this with my W&N Kolinsky brush size 2 and Amazon accidentally sent me this as well… Not that I am complaining! This is a detail round brush. It is great for VERY small details and can actually hold quite a bit of water, allowing me to draw very long, thin lines. I like this brush for that reason over the size 2 because the belly of this brush is pretty much a consistent size with the rest of the brush, so I don’t have to worry about it flattening out and creating a thicker line than I intended.
This is my workhorse brush. I use this all the time. It can do it all, lay down flat, consistent colors, draw thin lines, blend, and to a small extent, scrub. This brush and the one above are made of Kolinsky sable hair—a weasel that lives in Siberia. They are not cheap, and I make sure I take care of these brushes by washing them with good brush soap after I use them, especially with Gouache paint, since it’s harsher than watercolors.
I got this brush and it’s size 12 brother at a Ben Franklin’s art store in Hawaii. They are pretty good synthetic brushes—I like them for how stiff they are so it’s easy for me to scrub paint off paper. This brush retains a decent point so I use it for filling larger areas.
This is slightly bigger than the previous brush but I use this for filling big areas with paint. This is the brush I use for coloring backgrounds and getting into places that the flat brush is too wide to get to.
This is an investment brush, for sure. It is made from Siberian blue squirrel hair and is a power house when it comes to water. This type of brush is called a “mop” for a reason—it holds a LOT of water. I compared it to getting an extended magazine for a gun in a shooter game, haha. It is best used for creating washes. While this brush is capable of coming down to a fine point, I find that this size is a bit harder to control in maintaining that fine point. I want to invest in another squirrel brush in the future that is capable of giving me the ability to paint for longer with a finer point, but for now, this really is an exceptional brush.
Craftsmart Flat wash brush - Size 3/4 in
This is the only non round brush that I have— I use it for washes, glazes, or filling wide spaces. I have abused the hell out of this brush, if the ferrule is any indicator. In addition to that nice, wide stroke, it can be turned 90 degrees and the edge can be utilized for a thin line. However, I prefer using my detail brushes for that task. I think I got this out of a variety pack of synthetic brushes from Michaels ages ago.
Here are my two golden rules for taking care of my brushes and making sure they last forever
Do not leave them in water overnight. The weight of the handle will cause the brush to squish and lose it’s shape in the water. This can also soften the wood of the handle or any glue that lets the ferulle hold the brush and handle together. When I first started painting, I would go through brushes that I forgot about. The wood would swell up and absorb the water, causing the ferulle to fall off, and the bristles would get disfigured.
Wash your brushes with soap. Any gentle soap will do, but I use The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver to get paint out of my brushes. This helps prevent staining and conditions my brushes so they are almost like new! Washing your brush also prevents paint from getting caked up in there which is especially important if you are using paint that is harsher on brushes like acrylic or Gouache.
If you guys have any questions about my brushes, please let me know! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next Sunday!