Free Art For All - Basics of Watercolor - Brushes

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Lesson 68


You watched the lesson about watercolor paper and bought your watercolor paper.  This week we talk about how to navigate the brush section of the hobby store.  There are literally hundreds of brushes to choose from.  Brushes are made from synthetic (nylon) fibers, animal hairs or  mixes of animal hair and synthetic fibers.  They also come in different size brush heads and different shapes too.  This video will attempt to explain some of the factors you need to consider before purchasing a brush or brush set.


Products demonstrated

  1. Daniel Smith watercolor in blue.
  2. Canson 140# watercolor paper
  3. Liquitex Synthetic brush
  4. Dugato Squirrel hair brush
  5. Hake brush
  6. Transon synthetic/goat hair brush
  7. Jean Haines Kalinsky Sable brush


We are ready to buy brushes because we want to paint with watercolors.  Watercolor painting requires water to activate and move the paint.  The brush we choose has to hold enough water to allow the paint to “do its thing”.  Synthetic brushes are made with nylon.  Nylon does not hold enough water in the brush that will allow the paints to flow freely and mix. We talked about Kalinsky sable; what animals were used to obtain it and where the brushes are made.  China has very lax animal protection laws.  However, Kalinsky sable is one of the best natural hair brushes made.  It is also one of the most expensive brushes made.  Therefore, we talked about alternative brushes that were more affordable and made with goat, sheep, or squirrel hair.  The Dugato brush made my list as the best natural hair starter brush for a beginner.  If you have to use a blend of synthetic and natural hair I think the Transon brushes will work for you.  I use Jean Haines Kalinsky sable.

Next we talked about brush sizes.  All of the brushes are in the round category.  There is no standard sizing platform.  I have 4 brushes; Rigger, Size 10, Size 12, Mop (extra large and extra expensive).  You will need to make sure you have the rigger, 10 and 12 and a small hake brush.   

We discussed proper care of the brush.  A new brush comes with a coating of hard water soluble glue.  Gently massage water into the brush bristles to clean it off before using it to paint.  When painting, immediately clean the paint out of the brush and lay it flat to dry.  After it is dry it can be stored so that the hair is shaped to a point and points up.  You can clean your brush with liquid soap.  That soap can also be used to coat it for storage.  If you get an accumulation of paint at the ferrule you can clean it with rubbing alcohol and then wash in warm soapy water.  This is very hard on the brush but it will allow you to continue using it.  

For your convenience we have created an idea list on Amazon to make it easier for you to find the supplies we used.  We are not endorsing any seller and encourage you to check out your favorite sellers and prices.