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Your Watercolor Brushes Guide

What makes good watercolor brushes? It depends on what you want to use it for. Most art supply dealers carry many brands of brushes, and some of them have brushes made under private label by the best manufacturers. Sable is used less and less in brushes due to the high cost. The word Kolinsky tells you nothing about the quality of the brush. Many manufacturers are mixing sable and synthetic and coming up with decent brushes that hold a shape and hold enough paint and water for the application.

In your quest for watercolor brushes, I have done a little research on many of the brands on the market. I use many of these and want to share them with you. There are synthetics, sables, squirrels and synthetic mixes. There are also rounds, flats, specialty brushes and travel brushes. I hope you find these pages helpful.

Your choice of watercolor brushes is extensive. There are many companies out there competing for your business and they all have very good products. It is almost a personal decision. Remember that you cannot paint a sky with a "0" brush, so don't be afraid to purchase large brushes. I tell my students to use the largest brush they can; until they can't!

When purchasing your watercolor brushes at an art supply store, remember that the clerk may not know much about watercolor brushes; or watercolor paper for that matter. I have had many students come to class with a brush that was recommended by the clerk when they couldn’t find what I had recommended. It was always the wrong kind; and that goes for paper also. Make sure they know something about watercolor brushes. Ask if they paint in watercolor for starters!

The one thing you need to know if you are going to paint…..Craft brushes that you buy for a dollar will NOT do! Frankly, they aren't much good for crafts either!  However, you don't need to spend a fortune for good brushes.

For beginners, I recommend that you have only three of four brushes. One round brush, size 8 or 10; one flat brush, size 1/2 or 3/4 inch, and a good large wash brush (either a squirrel mop, or a Hake). The size will eventually determine just how large or small you can work, and you may expand your supply of brushes as you become more familiar with painting.

Below is a list of brush types and my recommendations for their use.  Also remember, when you purchase your brushes, mark them in such a way that you will know that they are yours.  I have lost many brushes by laying them down away from me desk and not being able to identify them, or losing them outside and not being able to find them.  I recommend a vibrant color nail polish on the end of the brush.

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