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How To Select The Watercolor Brushes

by Maria Haider 15 Dec 2021

Watercolor is a unique painting style in visual arts and has a distinctive technique and specialized artists who have practiced and perfected it over many years. The visual quality of the watercolors is the translucent outlook and the details shown through from the first layer of wash to the finishing stroke of the painting.

Watercolour Painting

The watercolor painting involves a particularity in selecting brushes, painting surface, color application, and technique. Hence we can say that it is a specialized visual art medium in which knowing the method and appropriate tools is essential.

This article will focus on selecting watercolor brushes by type, size, and qualities available. Let's first understand what the principal elements and qualities to observe before buying a watercolor brush are. The brush can be divided into three main features. One is the bushy part used for a bristle painting; the second is the bristle holder called a ferrule, a metal or silver band between the holder and the brush. The third is a brush holder usually made of wood or plastic. The quality of bristle hair is the key factor determining a watercolor brush's selection and price.

Girl Painting with Watercolors Brushes

Suggested Read: Types of Oil Paint Brushes

Watercolor Brushes In Hair Types And Qualities

The purpose of the watercolor brush is all about performance and resilience. This quality could be graded by the quantity of water carrying capacity in the bristles. The other is to maintain the fine point of the brush tip and shape, coming back to the original for a longer time. Finally, the watercolor brush should spread the paint evenly to the painting surface is another quality that you can only experience after using it. Now let's see how many types of bristle hair brushes are available and the pros and cons of every kind from the professional artist's point of view.

Watercolour Brushes

Sable Hair Brushes

The sable brushes are made from the tail of a species of marten found in North Asia. These sable paint brushes are considered the best quality for watercolor painting in the artist community. 

The best brand in the watercolor brushes is called Kolinsky Sable, and the source of bristle source is not sable but weasel living in the Siberian region. These are the best round brushes that are expensive but worthwhile buying as they retain water and maintain their tip shape over several years.

There are brand labels named red sable and pure sable, which are considered the second-best but economical for the artist with budget constraints.

Stable Hair Brushes

Squirrel, Ox & Goat Hair Brushes

The squirrel, Ox, and Goat hair brushes are the most suitable for the wash technique in watercolor painting. However, they are considered inferior to the sable because they don't hold the point very well. The brushes made of Ox hair are suitable for flat square-cut bristle shape as they give solid and coarse washes. The squirrel and goat bristle brushes for the mop and washes technique in the watercolor painting. This range is also known as the sabeline brushes.

Animal Bristle Brushes

Also Read: Five Basic Watercolour Painting Methods For Beginners

Hog Bristle

Hog Brushes are wide and flat in shape. They are best to carry and distribute the paint on larger surfaces. They are considered economical and durable for a longer run of time. The china Bristle Hog brushes offer a wide range of varieties and sizes.

Hog Bristle Brush

Synthetic Fiber Bristles

The synthetic fiber brushes are designed to mimic the texture and performance of the natural hair structure in brushes. They are the most economical solution which offers the whole range of sizes and types of brushes. They generally hold a good point, almost like natural hair brushes, but if you compare the durability of the synthetic brushes, it has a significant disadvantage. The synthetic brushes are very smooth and distribute the paint well, but they cannot create the texture only possible using natural hair brushes.

Synthetic Fiber Bristles

Rounding Off

Watercolor painting is an exciting technique in the realm of visual arts. Although it has been developing and evolving for hundreds of years, innovation in painting tools and methods is also changing. In this article, we are focusing on selecting watercolor brushes based on the bristle hair qualities and types available. We explain the quality of best hair bristles, their origin in making, and their utility to achieve various effects and techniques in the world of watercolor painting.

Image Source: Shutterstock

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