Watercolors Brushes for the Beginners

June 3, 2009

A brush is made up of bristles at one end, a ferrule (the metal thingy than connects the bristles to the handle), and the handle.

The typical watercolor brushes have long hairs to absorb the water. Brushes made of sable hair are considered the very best because of their exceptional ability to draw to a point and hold water.  They are also the most expensive. Beginners typically purchase synthetic or part sable brushes. The Kolinsky red sable brush is considered to be the best. These brushes are manufactured by several of different companies, including Arches Kolinsky brushes and Escoda Kolinsky brushes. Other brand name brushes include Grumbacher, Isabey, DaVinci, Rosemary and Co., and Raphael.

Most every brush can be divided into two categories: flat or round. Round brushes have a cone shape, with bristles that come to a point. Flat brushes are round brushes squashed flat, with the ends squared off. This type of brush is a bit stiffer. Round brushes are numbered from smallest (000 – the tiny ones) to largest (20- the big fat ones). Flat brushes are measured in inches.

A size 0 round brush will have a very fine point with very few bristles. You paint the very small stuff with this one. A collection of 3 or 4 quality brushes of different sizes should serve you well. A good beginner set might include one of two round brushes –  8 and 14. A 1/2″ and 1″ flat wash brush will round out your collection well.

If you really want to go basic, buy a no.8  round brush (natural hair or synthetic) and paint small. You’ll be able to get a feel for the brush and acquire some basic skills. If you still like watercolor painting after you have filled up you first pad of paper, you can buy a few more brushes – and of course another pad of paper.


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