This ‘little project’ of mine has been in the works for a bit now. In fact, it was a good experience to see where I have ended up with regards to these tools of the trade. As most artists know, we tend to try many different brushes and tools to obtain the exact mark we desire. Yes, mark making is is key to our interpretations of our subject matter. Personally, there is no ONE brush that will do everything I wish to do. ….So I have amassed somewhat of a collection. For artists out there, I think you may see similarities. For my non-artist followers, this may simply open your eyes to one aspect of my watercolour journey.
So, I’ve compiled my list. ….and I will go through these somewhat randomly, leaving out the dozens of miscellaneous generic brushes that I’ve accumulated. I do not have any association with any brand out there. Wish I did, wink, wink. Here goes….
So I will start with the prized Sable brushes. Yes Sable! These are the highest priced and prized brushes that can be used for watercolour. We are talking hundred of dollars. They are special because of their capability to soak up water and their ability to hold their shape. When you want lots of paint and pigment in your brush in order to do complex shapes and you don’t wish to continually return to the paint well, then these babies perform. So you get water soaking as well as some spring back for the shape. Think of that flower petal or that leaf. You load the paint into the brush and then touch the tip to paper. Paint is expelled as you move (during the paint stroke). You squish the brush down in order to broaden the petal (or leaf) and then you want to taper the shape by raising the brush. What you want is a brush that will spring back to its shape and to its point to allow this to happen. If there is no spring back, then you get a bent brush and a paint shape you don’t want.
So, yes, I do have a few of these. I will elaborate that some are the Kolinsky Sable brushes which are in fact from the tails of the kolinsky( Mustela Sibirica) a type of weasel and not true Sable. They are still rare and difficult to get. I have a few of these and their synthetic blend sables which are still expensive. I therefore use them sparingly, saving them for those special times I need their capabilities, without having a risk of destroying them.
I do love these and in fact they seem to be used a lot. I really appreciate their loading capability. Their bellies really hold lots of water and pigment allowing you to go a long way. I also really appreciate the fine tips of these quills. I use the larger Princeton Neptune (synthetic squirrel blend) for washes. I use the 2 and 0 Petit Gris from daVinci for finer detail. These are pure blue squirrel. Yes they do tend to bend and are less springy, but their sharp points are fabulous.
My Squirrel Blends by Silver Black Brush Company
I must like these as I have collected quite a few by now from wide flats to their jumbo rounds for washes and rounds (12, 8 and 4 ). I guess I like their water/pigment soaking ability combined with their nice points in the rounds. They are a blend of squirrel and a synthetic called Risslon. The risslon gives them a bit of spring, however, I do find they stay bent at times. Needless to say, when looking at what they can do, how durable they tend to be and their lower price points, I like them a lot.
When I want to be rougher in applying paint and don’t want to use the “special brushes” I go to my white taklon synthetic brushes. I have flat wash brushes, angled flats, rounds, liners and fans. They are excellent for dry brushing, scrubbing and anytime I want to be more aggressive with mark making. They are very durable. I’ve come to really like the Snap brushes.
The OLD BRUSH!
We don’t want to forget the old brush! I do have several. Some are bent and deformed to a point you think they may be useless. In fact it is the opposite. Sometime you want that special mark that you can only get from the old deformed brush. It’s also useful in blending colour on you palette.
Well that is it for now. I do have plenty more tools I use to create my pieces, but enough for now. I hope this is informative. I’m always open to new tools. Let me know if there is something I need to try.
Maurice Dionne FINEART
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