Watercolor Painting Tools - Part 3: Watercolor Brushes

Brushes are like an extension of your arm so it is crucial to invest in the right type of brushes suited for your artwork. There are many types of watercolor brushes but most of them fall under three categories: synthetic, blended (mix of synthetic and real hair), and natural hair (squirrel, sable etc.) 

Kolinsky sable brushes are the most expensive and top notch quality brushes you can find for painting. Unfortunately, they are currently banned from the U.S. so the only way you can get your hands on them is if you import them from the U.K. or elsewhere. Again, the number one rule before investing into any art supplies is to buy only the best that you can afford. Keyword here is afford. There is no point splurging on supplies if the practice of the art is not there. Practice is the secret behind painting well!

I store my brushes upright in a blue tinted mason jar

Synthetic Brushes

 Synthetic brushes are exactly as their name suggests - made of synthetic hair to imitate the quality of animal hair brushes. Synthetic brushes always maintain a sharp crisp point and has a wonderful spring as you paint. The minor drawback to synthetic brushes is that they have the least water retention capacity compared to the other types of brushes.

 You'll find yourself reloading with water and pigment often when using a synthetic brush. Additionally, they are usually known for releasing all of the water in a few strokes as opposed to natural hair brushes which release the water slowly overtime as you paint. I started out with Synthetic brushes and eventually moved on to natural hair brushes. 

Some of the beautiful brushes I ordered from Rosemary & Co

Natural Brushes

After using some natural hair brushes made with Kolinsky sable hair, I never wanted to go back to synthetics again. The brush feels smooth and glides easily on the paper and the capacity of water that these brushes hold are extremely amazing! Rosemary and co is a family owned business in England and create some of the finest handmade brushes for artists. You won't be disappointed! They shipped all the way to the U.S. and even though there were some minor hiccups with my purchase, customer service from Rosemary & co is excellent. They are responsive and understand an artist's needs. 

I ordered a lot of the series 33 and series 323 from Rosemary and Co and I can't stop using them. They are an extreme pleasure to use and I reach for them every time. The snap and spring on these brushes beat the spring from my Raphael 8404 sable brush and the prices are unmatched by any other brand. The series 33 Kolinsky brushes maintain a crisp point and have yet to fail me. 

One of my latest paintings "Scrumptious" is completely painted with Rosemary and Co brushes. I love them!

One of my latest paintings "Scrumptious" is completely painted with Rosemary and Co brushes. I love them!

I am looking forward to purchasing more brushes when I have used the lifespan of my current ones (Kolinsky sable should last you anywhere from 4months to a few years depending on how often you paint and how you take care of them. For more information on Kolisnky sable brush care and Rosemary brushes, check out their FAQ

Let me know if you have any questions on brushes in the comments below! Do you use synthetic brushes or natural hair? Which do you prefer?