REVIEW: Callia Mixed Media Brushes

Interested in a synthetic brush line good for oil, acrylic and watercolor? With great balance, flexibility and control? Read on to learn more about Callia Mixed Media Brushes!


Awaken the Artist – Callia Brushes From Willow Wolfe

All the Callia brushes have:

  • Balanced handles
  • Six layers of filler, primer, paint and lacquer to prevent cracking and increase the life of the brushes
  • Solid brass ferrules  

They are formulated to work with acrylic, oil, and watercolor.  They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, not just the ones shown here.

Each brush is labeled with the size, brand, shape, and series.

Callia Flat Wash brushes

Callia Mixed Media Brushes Watercolor Oil Acrylic - 1 inch flat brush

The Flat Wash brushes are made with a blend of multi-diameter Cultured Synthetic Sable.  The filaments are etched with microscopic pockets that result in a chisel edge with shape retention. They absorb color and create controlled release.

I received the 1 inch flat brush.

Callia Angle Shader Brushes

Callia Mixed Media Brushes Watercolor Oil Acrylic - Angle Shader brush 3/8

The Angle Shader is made of the same blend of multi-diameter Cultured Synthetic Sable as the flat brushes.  The angled shape makes it great for tight areas and corners.  It also creates a wide range of strokes and shapes.

I received the 3/8 inch brush.

Callia – The Fine Round Brushes

Callia Mixed Media Brushes Watercolor Oil Acrylic - Fine Round Brushes

The Fine Round brushes are a smooth synthetic sable with a finely tapered tip. The belly holds a great deal of color, and the filaments allow for a controlled release. 

That long extreme tip allows for fine lines, even when using the largest sizes.

I received the size 12, size 6, size 2, and size 0 brushes.


All of the Callia brushes that I received held a good amount of color, released evenly and gave me a good range of lines and shapes.

The Flat Wash, 1 inch

Callia Flat Wash Brush Watercolor Painting Example

Wash brushes are generally used for washes of color.  Usually, you would apply a wash with even pressure so you’d get an even application of color.  Instead, I varied the pressure, even rocking a bit so that one side of the brush had more pressure than the other side.

The release was easily controlled just by means of the pressure.  When I pressed down I got a greater flow, but the important thing was that it stopped as soon as I lightened the pressure, and at no point did I get a sudden flood of color.

Callia Brushes Watercolor Brush Test

I was able to get a surprisingly wide range of shapes and strokes for such a large brush.

Callia Brush close-up of flat brush watercolor

As with most synthetics, I did get some splaying, where the bristles spread apart.  This was only after doing some severe twisting for circles and it was only at the very tip.  I was expecting the bristles to create gaps that went nearly to the ferrule.

This brush tip held together very well under some fairly brutal twisting and pressure.  I am mean to my brushes when testing!

The Angle Shader, 3/8 inch

The Angle Shader is similar to a flat wash brush in many ways, but that angle gives you a ‘toe’ that you can stick into small places. It also gives you a fun range of shapes and strokes.

The main difference between the angle shader and a dagger brush is that the dagger is longer.  I realized that I much prefer this brush.  I think it gives you as much flexibility, and is easier to control. My opinion, and others may vary.

It was a bit easier to get this brush to splay than it was with the flat wash.  I believe this was due to the size.  As with the flat, the splaying only affected the tips and only occurred after lots of twisting.

The Fine Rounds, Size 12, 6, 2, 0

I have to admit that I had the most trouble with the fine rounds.  I use a round brush the most often of all brushes, and that extra length threw me off for a while.  It requires holding the brush in a slightly different manner and applying pressure differently, to get what you want.

This was purely me, having to adjust my technique to the tool. The point being, if you decide to buy one of these brushes, and don’t immediately feel in control, give it some time and practice. It’s well worth the effort.

As with the other brushes, I could control the paint flow easily by adjusting pressure, and even pressure meant an even flow.

That extremely long tip means fine lines are possible even with the size 12 brush.

On the other hand, even with the smallest round I was able to paint full-bodied shapes along with those fine, fine lines.

Now that I knew how to handle the brushes, I got serious.

Paintings Done with the Callia Brushes

Watercolor Painting using Callia Brushes
Photo reference courtesy of Sarch on Pixabay

This painting was done on a 3 x 4 inch sized paper.  I think the fine rounds work better on larger sized works where you can really flex the brushes.  On the other hand, they worked nicely for getting into the smaller areas, like the legs where they are hiding in the grasses.

Tropical Fish Watercolor Painting

This painting is approximately 5.5 x 8.5 inches.  Still small, but I was able to really take advantage of the brushes’ flexibility, creating strokes of many shapes.

Birds and Nest Watercolor Painting
Photo reference courtesy of MabelAmber on Pixabay

So far, I was concentrating on watercolor, but these are mixed media brushes.  I used gouache and acrylic for this painting.  The brushes worked beautifully with all three mediums.

About Willow Wolfe

Callia, a Spanish word for beautiful, is the dream child of Willow Wolfe. An award winning art teacher, an  author, and designer of best-selling brush lines for over twenty years. She has made it her mission to make the best brush line in the world, while keeping it affordable.


Callia Brushes from Willow Wolfe:

Hahnemühle Natural Line – Agave Watercolor Cold-pressed Block, 12 sheets:

Other tools

Arteza Gouache Paint, Set of 60 Colors/Tubes (12 ml/0.4 US fl oz)
Daniel Smith Set Mezzi Godet in Metal Box
Zebra Zensations Technical Pen

Disclaimer: I received six brushes from Willow Wolfe, for the purpose of this review. I received no other consideration, though this post contains affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Art Supply Reviews

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