Since the stamping world is abuzz with watercolor info, I thought I'd jump in with a post about my favorite brushes, and some information that might be helpful as you pick out brushes of your own. While we were overseas, the selection of brushes was limited to poor quality sets from China, and these brushes were just not working for me any more........... eek.
What I actually found the most helpful in choosing new brushes is a rating scale in the Jerry's Artarama catalog that notes the stiffness of the filaments of each brush, and how well they perform with different types of paint (watercolor, acrylic, and oil). These ratings appear on their website as well, if you don't have a print catalog.
By the scale shown here, my preference for brushes is a stiffness of 3, and this seems to be a good all-purpose stiffness for all types of paint. I like the snap of synthetic brushes (snap refers to the way the brush returns to a straight position and a nice point when it is lifted from the paper). There are other options as far as filaments - different types of synthetic fibers, blends of hair and fiber, and different types of hair (softer brushes may use squirrel hair; mongoose hair is also used).
I purchased my brushes from Blick, so I'll share their links - these are affiliate links that kick a little commission my way if you buy at no extra cost to you, so thanks in advance if you do just that! This isn't a comprehensive list, and I haven't tried a brush from every brand, because brushes can get expensive! These are just the brands I've purchased that work for me.
|Robert Simmons Sienna brushes|
|Grumbacher Goldenedge brushes|
|DaVinci Nova brushes|
I bought some angled brushes from a couple of different sources because I wanted a variety of widths. The clear handled brush is a synthetic sable by Princeton - only the wash brushes in their line are clear acrylic; they do have other styles as well. The blue handled brushes here are from the Robert Simmons Sapphire line - they are beautiful and similar in feel to the Siennas, but made from a sable and synthetic filament blend. They're great brushes too, and have the Simmons lifetime guarantee. These also come in variety packs, if you're trying to build your collection. Price for a #6 round brush - $6.79.
|Simply Simmons brushes|
These Silver Black Velvet brushes had been recommended by a couple of different artists, and I got them, and ended up not loving them... The filaments on these are a blend of synthetic fibers and squirrel hair, which is softer than sable (a stiffness of 2 on the scale above). They do hold a lot of paint, which is great - I just am more accustomed to a snappier brush, the tip coming back to a straightened point when I lift the brush. Here's what I mean...
That said, they are a quality brush, and obviously worth consideration since they're used by artists that I respect! Price for a #6 round brush - $9.61.
I used a few different brushes to complete this little painting, based on a drawing in my sketchbook that can be purchased as a stamp HERE. I filled a palette with Brusho powders and water just to try something new (each well has 8-9 drops of water with each powder color mixed in, plus a couple of Magenta Nuance powders to fill out 2 remaining wells). Because of Brusho's properties, I could also use bleach to remove color and add highlights, which was fun too. I started with a light wash and added some loose colors, then worked in the negative space at the top to add depth and just practice that concept. The hot pink powder was a little intense for the background so there are a few areas of dark color I'm not excited about, but it was fun to just play... I'm trying to remember to do that more!
Hopefully I've shed a little light on how brushes can differ, and what you might consider when looking for brushes yourself. If you do have questions, please leave them in the comments below!