Saturday, October 03, 2015

Synthetic or natural - brushes that is

What's you preference for selecting paintbrushes for watercolours? It all comes down to personal preference. 

Your choices are based on performance, your techniques, how much you are willing to spend and the feel of the brushes.

Many people make choices based on hair - synthetic or natural - which impact performance of the brush. A watercolour brush should be able to hold a good amount of water in its belly, be able to maintain a fine point, and distribute the water and paint smoothly and evenly on the paper surface. In addition, the brush should spring back to it's proper shape after each use and be able to maintain that shape for as long as possible. So what are the choices?

Most people agree that the best paintbrushes for watercolors are made from sable hair. The very best sable hair is called Kolinsky sable because it's sourced from a weasel (not actually a sable) living in the Siberian region of Kolinsky. Brushes made from sable should last for years Sable brushes, when properly cared for, will maintain their shape and texture for years. These are often the most expensive brushes. Some countries consider these animals as protected and therefore are now banning the import of sable brushes. Consequently, they will be more difficult to acquire.

Hog BristleHog bristles are best used in brushes for large washes. Additionally they last a long time and are very affordable. I've heard that those from China might be better. 

Squirrel, Ox or Goat
Some brushes are made from a variety of these hair. When used for round brushes, they don't tend to hold their point. However, they tend to make great mop brushes. Ox hair also makes great flat brushes

Synthetic hairs (fibres)
Synthetic brushes are usually made from nylon or polyester. Often the are designed to behave like the natural hairs at much lower the cost. There is a great range in quality and performance, but in general they tend to hold a good point. Due to the nature of the fibres, they cannot hold as much water. However, some manufacturers are producing fibres that are not smooth and can hold a bit more water.

Combination Hairs
Some brushes are made with a combination of sable and synthetic fiber or sable and some other less expensive natural hair. While some of these brushes are cheap alternatives, some also have decent performance

Successful artists use all different types of brushes. Before buying one of these brushes why not try them out in the store or see how it's reviewed by other artists.

Today's art find is Sen Lacson
Sen Lacson watercolour

Have a great week

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