DOODLEWASH REVIEW: Watercolor Brushes

Rosemanry & Co. kolinsky sable and squirrel and synthetic brushes.

I’m a little excited about this overview of watercolor brushes because I think a few people were looking forward to it.  Brands and/or types offered are Raphaël, Princeton, Rosemary & Co., Escoda, Da Vinci, Royal & Langnickel, Loew-Cornell, travel, bamboo, hake, and water brushes. Resources on fiber, brush sizes, and shapes are provided at the end.

Like journals, brushes are a personal preference, this post is to provide some ideas of what’s out there.  Often choices are made due to affordability and availability, because man, these things can get expensive!  Some people make great art with crap brushes and supplies.  The other day I saw a :50 second video of a guy painting a portrait with a can of spaghetti.  My skills aren’t that mad- I need, at the least, a decent brush. I hope this post aids you in finding brushes that you like, and saves you some trial and error, and money.

lots of watercolor brushes on container and jars on a desk

With the exception of Rosemary & Co., for much of the post I linked to Dick Blick, and a few other places. I am not affiliated with these, or any other companies.  Nor did I receive products in exchange for review, or any other incentive. I write these reviews from the heart, to help other artists.  I believe that creative expression, in all its forms, is very important. Blick has a lot of info on brushes, they carry a lot of brushes, and it was easier for me to link to them because of all of the different types of brushes being presented.  The majority of products shown can be found through other retailers.  It’s always nice to support your local art store.

I’ve kissed some brush frogs to find my brush princes. For a period of time, I thought that a different type of brush would help my painting get better, and I tried a lot of them.  Turns out what really worked to help my painting get better was more painting ;). I also finally found the brushes that I like and use a lot.

Get comfortable for this bonanza of brushes beast of a blog post….

Since most of us like to see what others are using day to day, I’ve got a few of examples, two up here, and one way down below with the travel brushes.

These are the five I use the most.  From the left- Raphaël Soft Aqua Quill in sizes 2 and 3/0, Rosemary & Co. Series 22 Kolinsky Sable in size 3, Princeton Select 10/0 Liner, and a toothbrush. The quills hold a lot of water and paint- I like a lot of flow, and they hold a point. The sable is great for small details and controlled layering. The toothbrush is a star maker- I paint nebulae/space/stars a lot and I use it to flick paint, I use the Princeton liner for them too.   Some of the brushes shown are small because I paint kind of small. You might consider up sizing over some of the sizes shown, depending on how large you paint. Above all- always use your own best judgement!

Below are the brushes most used by Guest Doodlewasher Jaimie Dent-Campbell, she’s currently working on a 365 Day Aquatic Life Project (@maaadkat).

“My love of mops and daggers was created by my laziness at changing brushes. I want to use the fewest brushes possible while painting.  Escoda Aquario Mops size 14 and 18 (these are the Joseph Zbukvic models) they are squirrel hair and load a lot of water/paint for coverage of large areas. Royal & Langnickel Nocturna Dagger 1/2″ this brush feels a little more like a sword and gives wonderful thick to thin lines and great drybrush textures.  The Loew Cornell 1/4″ Dagger has a tight feel that will let you manage fine line details while also giving thick to thin lines. My Raphael Soft Aqua Quill 3/0 is my little workhorse, it loads a lot of water/paint, it can handle find details, drybrush textures,  thick to thin lines and best of all holds its shape after all of the punishment I give it.”

Escoda Aquario mop, Langnickel Nocturna dagger, Lowell Cornell 1/4

Quill sizes differ from regular brush sizes- they are larger in overall size even if the numbered size looks similar to regular brushes. Quills hold a lot of water, but are also capable of holding a fine point. After I got a couple of synthetic quills, almost all of my other brushes look on in disuse.  The Holy Grail of brushes for me- a natural hair quill/mop in a size 4 or 6.  I’ve refrained due to price, but looking at them from Rosemary & Co for this review…hmm…their prices are really good!

Princeton Neptune Synthetic Squirrel Quill, Raphaël Soft Aqua Quill

Princeton Neptune Synthetic Squirrel Quill, Raphaël Soft Aqua Quill

Raphaël Soft Aqua Quill– comes in sizes 3/0, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, ranging from $10 to $25.  The first time I used one of these brushes, it became my favorite.  The one drawback, the ferrule is wrapped by wire and sometimes the end of the wire snags on the brush wipe.  That size 8 is a behemoth.

“The unique synthetic fibers in the Raphaël Soft Aqua brush brush offer a fluid retention capacity equal to no other, holding twice as much color as conventional brushes.  The wavy, undulating shape of the fibers creates spaces that hold water molecules — in contrast to conventional synthetic fibers, which are straight and slippery.”

Princeton Neptune Synthetic Squirrel Quill – comes in sizes 4, 6, 8.  I don’t like this brush as well as the Soft Aqua.   It doesn’t hold as fine of a point and the fibers aren’t as nice.  Although, the wire wrapped around the ferrule is better seated and the ends don’t snag the brush wipe.  It has good reviews from people.  These are a tad more expensive than the Soft Aqua, ranging from $18 to $28. The Neptune also comes in a dagger.

Neptune is Princeton’s thirstiest brush ever, delivering oceans of color to the sheet. Featuring the latest synthetic fiber technology, the Neptune’s multiple-diameter filaments are configured to replicate the smooth feel of natural Squirrel, with enhanced snap and resilient strength.”

They feel more synthetic than other synthetics around this price point.

Princeton Neptune Synthetic Squirrel Quill and Dagger watercolor brushes

Princeton Neptune Synthetic Squirrel Quill and Dagger

Raphaël Kaërell Synthetic Sable Brushes– these were my favorite synthetics until I got the Soft Aqua above. Affordable, hold a decent amount of water, hold a point, and nice to paint with

“Raphaël’s Kaërell is the closest thing to a natural hair brush we’ve found at an economical price. Supremely soft with a fine tip, it is excellent for watercolor, acrylic, and oil painting. It is a long wearing brush with excellent water-carrying capacity and surprising strength. It is durable, easy to clean, and an extremely versatile brush for many techniques and media.”

Raphaël Kaërell Synthetic Sable Brushes

Raphaël Kaërell Synthetic Sable Brushes

Princeton Series 3750 Select Brushes– come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, are super affordable, and are a general type of brush that can be used with various paint mediums. Found these at my local art store.  For the price, they are nice- they range from less than $3 to around $8. I have one where the wood started to split early on, but it’s still usable, and it seemed a fluke.

Princeton Series 3750 Select Brushes with nebula background

“Designed by artist Willow Wolfe for artists, the Princeton Select line of brushes goes beyond the basic brush shapes and sizes that make up the artist’s arsenal. Joining a range of high-quality Rounds, Filberts, Flats, Chisel Blenders, Liners, and more are exciting technique brushes that include Lunar Blenders and Filbert Grainers.”

Close up of the Oval Mop- this holds a surprising amount of water, Lunar Mop- soft bristles, and Round Blender- firm bristles on this one.

There are a couple of other Princeton types around the edges- a Series 3050 Mini, and a Lauren Series 4350 Fan. Both of these series are slightly higher priced.

Princeton Series 3750 Select Brushes

Princeton Series 3750 Select

Take a breather, get a cup of coffee, there’s a lot more to go…

Rosemary & Co.– Rosemary and her daughter Symi operate the company and it is located in the UK. Their prices are excellent, they sell direct, not through retailers. I have always had a good experience ordering from them, and using the brushes.  Many artists love and recommend their brushes. The selection is large and the shipping is fast.  Those outside the European Union do not pay VAT (value added tax).


“As a general rule of thumb the finest hair is used for watercolour. Kolinsky Sable being the ultimate, followed by Pure red Sable, Squirrel etc. At the moment, there are some excellent Nylon fibers which imitate Sable thus keeping costs low. It’s not just about ‘snap & spring’ which are familiar terms but how the brush strokes the paper. Sable has the advantage of holding a huge quantity of liquid and ‘flows’ when pressed onto the paper. Some beginners/intermediates would choose Sable/Nylon blends or indeed 100% Nylon as the feeling of a controlled strokes is more prevalent.”

Okay, there is a lot going on with what’s shown below. I won’t be able to go into full detail and prices on these, so if you are interested, click the links and check out the catalog. From the left:

Series 46 Red Sable Extended Point– just over $10 for the size 8. These brushes are also referred to as an inlaid liner brush.  They hold a lot of water.  Here is a 5:06 minute video of Sylvaine Jacquart sketching the Taj Mahal. She starts out using a quill and then uses an extended point. I love this video, and think you will enjoy it.

Series 323 Pure Kolinsky Spotters- these start at just over $4, Series 66 Pure Kolinsky Filbert, Series 22 Pure Kolinsky Designer. All but the first two came in their Set 70- Botanical– just over $44 for that seven brush Kolinsky set.

Rosemanry & Co. series 323 kolinsky sable

From the left- Series 107 Goat Hair Oval Wash starting at $7.  Sable blends- I like these brushes a lot, nice water retention but not too sloppy. They are super affordable, starting at less than $3- Series 401 Pointed Sable Mixture.

Rosemanry & Co. brushes, series 401 abd 107

Series 770 Sable Blend Sword Liner– good for grasses and lines, things with sharp edges, like buildings.  I really like this brush, very nice to paint with. They also have daggers- Series 772.

Rosemanry & Co. brushes, texture series and series 77 dagger

Unusual and specialty brushes. Series 32 Tree and Texture Brush, Series 40 Triangular/Pyramid Shape- I’ve not quite figured out what to do with this, but it makes some interesting shapes- there’s an example in the link.  There is also a Rotary Tree Brush, not pictured here. See the catalog link below for nice examples done with the Tree brushes.

I ended up doing this quick example showing the marks they make, and now I want to use these brushes more, especially the Triangular- it’s very interesting.  It seems good for making waves, and maybe mountains…and dinosaur feet. I was never excited by the Tree & Texture brush, but I’m going to give it another shot. In order to get the texture the brush has to be fairly dry, and so does the paper. Might need to click to enlarge this one to get a good look.

 Rosemanry & Co. Tree and texture bush and triangle brush, pyramid brush watercolor painiting example of a tree, waves and mountains on canson XL paper

Here is a PDF of the Rosemary & Co. catalog, there’s a picture of the lovely Rosemary on the front. The photos and size presentation of the brushes is outstanding.  There’s photos of a brush in the making and lots of other helpful information. They have a large selection of brushes. If you end up ordering brushes from Rosemary & Co. and like interesting papers, check out the Two Rivers Studio Pads- Mixed Colour.  There is a fascinating variety of paper in this thing, not suitable for watercolor though.  So far, I’ve used it with chalk pastels.

Oriental, or Sumi, or calligraphy, or bamboo brushes– they are referred to by those names.  Usually made with real hair, like goat, horse, occasionally sable, or “natural hair,” whatever that vagary means. Usually very affordable.  Can be used for watercolor painting, but might feel a little strange if new to this brush style.

“Oriental and Sumi Brushes are used in the traditional painting techniques of Japan and the Far East, such as sumi painting.  Bamboo and sumi brushes have become popular with watercolor artists for detailing and fine lines, while the hake brush is used much like a square wash.”

oriental brushes, calligraphy, Chinese brush painting, bamboo brush

There is something about Chinese Brush Painting that I am attracted to. By no means am I skilled with these brushes, but here are a couple of examples of sumi ink on practice shuen paper. The first symbol is Japanese- ensō, the other pic is from when I was starting to learn the brush painting technique.

Hake brushes usually made from goat hair, and an affordable option.  They also work well to brush eraser dust off of drawings.  That’s what I use the one on the right for and it came from my local art store, it’s similar to these Yasutomo brushes.  The first two are Princeton Series 2900,

I’m ready to conquer some landscapes with these during World Watercolor Month.  Ron Ranson – quickie 2:52 minute video introduction to his “Big Brush” method.

Steve Cronin– 20:07 minute beach painting video using the hake.  He’s got a lot of other videos to watch.  When he first starts painting it looks a terrible mess, but they transform!

hake brushes, goat hair


Travel Brushes- these usually have a detachable handle end that the brush end inserts into.  Rosemary & Co. has a nice diverse set of travel brushes to choose from.

Escoda VERSÀTIL travel brushes- these are Charlie’s, I borrowed his picture.  He loves them and has a review of his experience with them here.

“Escoda’s Versatil Synthetic Kolinsky Travel Rounds are amazing brushes with characteristics matching those found only in real Kolinsky. Reversible Cap/Handle.”

Escoda VERSÀTIL travel brushes set


Da Vinci Maestro Kolinksy Travel Brushes–  The size 2 below is one of these and the size 4 on the end is also a Kolinsky, just a different handle.  There are many sizes to choose from, and the travel brushes are at the bottom of the linked page.  They start at $21.  While scrolling down in the link, check out the price on the Jumbo Round size 50- holy cow that’s a house payment!  I put that nicely because this is out in public.

“Da Vinci’s “Maestro” designation is reserved for brushes manufactured using male winter Siberian Kolinsky Red Sable fur. These are top-of-the-line, high quality brushes. The extra sharp needle-like point and longer tapered hair length result in faster action at the tip and the tightest snap at the point. Expect superior spring and control, plus unsurpassed water-carrying performance.”

Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin Travel Brushes– the synthetic variety and these are the sizes 5 & 6 pictured below.   Again, scroll down to the bottom in the link to find them. They start at $20.   These feel stiff and too controlled to me. Nor do I think they hold more water than any other synthetic, like they claim in that blurb below.  Other people seem to like the Comotop Spin because they get good reviews.  They would work well for detail, or for a more controlled style.

“Holds more water than any other synthetic. Large belly tapers to a fine point. The blending and placement of 5 different diameters of fine synthetic filaments make this brush perform like natural hair.  The long-lasting, high quality synthetic fiber has an energetic spring. Brushes are made by hand, so there may be variation with the handles.”

The other two are just kind of hanging  out to model with their travel buddies. The silver brush came with a set of paints that I got from Holbein.  The other little one is the Da Vinci Kolinsky mentioned above, I couldn’t find a link to that handle type.

Da Vinci Travel Brushes Maestro Kolinsky and cosmotop spin

Da Vinci Travel Brushes and Friend

Waterbrushes- nice to have around, and to carry in your bag, handy when you don’t have a water container.  I’ve used these a lot.  They work great for pen and ink wash.

Niji Waterbrush– these start around $7 sold singly in a variety of tip sizes- mini, S, M, L, flat.  Out of the three pictured I like these the best, there’s a bit more flow control. “Squeeze or fill the water reservoir, screw on the brush tip, and you’re ready to go! Squeeze the Niji Waterbrush gently to wet the brush and keep it moist, which eliminates continually dipping your brush. This brush is great for travel.”

Pentel Aquash – these start around $6 and come singly, or in a set of three tip sizes- S, M, L. Less than $13 for the set on Amazon. “Ideal for sketching and drawing, the Pentel Arts Aquash Water Brush has a durable nylon tip that holds its point for better stroke control.  Available in a variety of tip sizes, this versatile brush loads easily with water, inks, or fluid colors. What’s more, the soft, easy-to-squeeze barrel has a shape that prevents it from rolling off surfaces.”

Aquastroke– comes in a set of 4 for around $13.  One is missing in the photo because I gave it to someone. These don’t seem as well made as the other two.

niji, pentel aquash and aquastroke waterbrushes

Niji, Pentel Aquash and Aquastroke

Dick Blick has decent info on bushes.  Here are some helpful links- Brush ShapesBrush Hair Types, free downloadable PDF charts that “describe the different brush shapes and hair types, and Blick’s system of standard brush sizing and measurement.”  This is also a nice link on general watercolor brush info and types.

Which brushes to choose natural or synthetic video and how to make your brushes last video from Blick.

In case you missed it up top, the Rosemary & Co. catalog has a lot of helpful information.

Brush cleaners- there are a few types out there, Pink Soap, and Escoda Artist Brush and Hand Soap.  I like the General Pencil Company The Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver because it works well and comes in a little jar that’s easy to swirl the brush around in.

Honorable mention- the brush wipe. I had to put the brushes on something so they didn’t roll around for their photo shoot.  I’ve been using the same wipe for months, and just changing the fold.  This is the best artistic investment that I’ve made- a pack of cloth diapers (aka nappies).  These are the unbleached flat variety.  Much nicer and more absorbent than a paper towel, washable, less wasteful.

lots of watercolor brushes on container and jars on a desk

A little hello from the creative area of my living room.

This is an ongoing Saturday series of watercolor and art supply reviews.  July is officially  World Watercolor Month! If you haven’t already joined the Face Book group for this first ever celebration, come join us!  Next month is all about, you guessed it, watercolors! The month will start out reviewing watercolors that are suitable for children, and to raise awareness about arts education, and The Dreaming Zebra Foundation.  Then we will be going on a World Tour of Watercolors with stops in Japan, Russia, Germany, France and the UK!

Whew! You made it to the end 😉

Happy painting!

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Art Supply Reviews
  1. Tonya 7 years ago

    Pretty great overview of some popular brushes. What I’m missing in your info (and it may be there but I didn’t see it) is how the different brushes handle. For example, I’ve never found a squirrel I liked. Just doesn’t have enough spring for how I paint. My best-painter-friend loves squirrel. Would love to know how each of these brushes/brands compare with point, stiffness & snap or spring!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi Tonya, it is more of an overview, it got so lengthy. I commented more on some of them about the things you pointed out. I find art supply preferences to be subjective, like your friend liking squirrel, but you prefer something else. Often it’s difficult to know what we like until we try something out for ourselves. After looking at your lovely sketches, I can see why you might prefer something with more spring and snap. If this helps, the Cosmotop Spin has a lot of spring and snap and is a stiff brush in comparison to squirrel. I hope you find something that suites you :)! I appreciate your comment, it gives me an idea of what people are looking for. Happy sketching to you!

      • That is so true, Jessica! Art supply preferences are extremely subjective. And I can only imagine how long this post would have been if you went into more detail. 🙂 Thanks for providing as much information as you were able. And thanks also for the recommendation on Cosmotop Spin. I have not tried those. I really, really love Kolinsky sable, but I really don’t like the price. (Ouch!) For those who like snap, another good brush I’ve found is the Loew-Cornell La Corneille Golden Talon Brushes. I reviewed these on my blog, and they are extremely affordable. Again, much thanks!

        • Author
          Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

          Hi Tonya, I’m so happy that you replied back! If you end up trying the Cosmotop Spin (love that name, makes me think of space whirling around someone’s head), I would love to hear how you like it :). Thanks for pointing out the Loew-Cornell. I’ll be looking for you over on the WWM FB page!

  2. memadtwo 7 years ago

    Wow! It will take a while to digest this…thanks! (K)

  3. Mama Cormier 7 years ago

    Lots of info here. I’ll be coming back to this page again. Thanks!

  4. M. L. Kappa 7 years ago

    Very interesting post – will have to re read!

  5. M. L. Kappa 7 years ago

    Btw, what do you use a fan shaped brush for? I also would like to know how you control splatter when using a toothbrush. Mine goes everywhere!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi Marina, the fan brush is good for adding texture, and things like grass, and trees. It’s used more commonly in oil and acrylic. Hehehe, I don’t control the splatter much with the toothbrush either. I put down paper under whenever I splatter. I usually try to control how much paint is on it, too much and it gets gloppy, then they are meteors instead of stars!

      • M. L. Kappa 7 years ago

        Thanks! Glad to see I’m not the only sloppy one. I thought you might have a magic trick up your sleeve!

  6. Jodi 7 years ago

    wow – such great info!!! Thank you so much Jessica. I must save to review. 🙂

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Thanks Jodi 🙂

  7. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    Awesome review, as always! There’s so much info I need to come back and re-read this at least a few more times.

    I put down the Raphael quill and Escoda mop on my wish list. My absolute favorite brush is the #8 Pro Arte Prolene Plus filbert. It keeps its point and shape for finer details and has enough width to paint a wash easily.

    I recently got a #12 Blick Master Sable filbert and like it well enough for my smaller works but it doesn’t hold its point. Good for making fur patterns though. 😉

    I had to laugh at your hake brush and eraser dust comment because I keep one exclusively for that purpose; I never paint with that particular brush. 😄

    My dad taught me Chinese painting when I was younger and he gave me a ton of brushes for that. I never use them for watercolors though.

    Thanks, Jessica!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Great erasing mind thing alike! Ha! I love that brush for that purpose. Do you still do Chinese painting? I would love to see it! Thanks so much Teresa! <3

      • Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

        I had planned on starting it up again this year, Jessica but, alas, haven’t made the time to do it yet. I’ll try to remember to post something for you either on my blog or on the watercolor page! 😊

        That reminds me, I want to friend you and Charlie on FB but I’m shy about asking because some people like to keep their FB page for personal/family use.

        Thank *you* for these fabulous reviews! ❤️

        • Author
          Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

          Maybe during Inktober Teresa? We can practice a bit together 🙂 I just went to friend you, but there wasn’t a button to click. There’s usual not going on on my FB page.

          • Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

            Sounds like a plan for Inktober! 🙂 That’s weird that there no “friend” button to click…I’ll go check. Thanks! 🙂

  8. Mimi 7 years ago

    Wow interesting. I always use any kind of brush haha no wonder they won’t turn out good. Lots of info – have to save this for review 😊

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      There’s an artist on YouTube called Untamed Little Wolf, she uses any old thing too. It’s fun to watch her paint 🙂 Thanks for your comment Mimi.

      • Mimi 7 years ago

        Really. I’m gonna check that out Haha no biggie 😊

  9. Cathe 7 years ago

    What a great and informative post Jessica! I definitely need to give more thought to the brushes I use. I have been so curious about Rosemary, great insight here, thank you! I am such a one-trick pony when it comes to my brushes. Now you have me thinking more about what to try next!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi Cathe :), whatever you are using, your sketches look wonderful! I love the variety of natural wonders. I might be your biggest hag stone fan, hehehe <3. And you sew mushrooms?! So creative.

  10. Carol 7 years ago

    Thanks for this comprehensive review of brushes, Jessica. As always, it is abundant with good options and useful info, and I appreciate all the time you took to put this together!! 👍🏻💖

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Thanks so much Carol 🙂 <3

  11. twistedsisterweb 7 years ago

    Wow! I had no idea but you are the perfect person to ask about my new craft idea.What brush would you use to lay down water soluble glue on a lightly textured surface. I am attempting to write cursive words on beach hats.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi, hmm, I’ve never tried to paint with glue. Might try a cheap rigger. Or maybe a narrow or needle tipped squeeze bottle. Good luck! What are you affixing to the glue?

      • twistedsisterweb 7 years ago

        2mm silk cord. Needle tip squeeze bottle might be the ticket. Thanks so much.

  12. Wow, what a thorough article on brushes. I’m going to forward this to someone who might enjoy it too!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi Jeni, thank you for commenting. Your paintings are lovely! I like your skies!

  13. Judith 7 years ago

    What a wealth of information here! Thank you so much for sharing all of this information.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi Judith, thanks so much for your comment 🙂

  14. thoroughlyemily 7 years ago

    Great information! Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Thanks for the comment Emily!

  15. Teri C 7 years ago

    Holey moley, what a great review of brushes. Thank you. I know a little about different brushes but didn’t realize there were so many. I have to say, of all the brushes I have my fav is my #6 Escoda.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Thanks Teri. A lot of people like the Escoda, I might have to try one… 😉

  16. ybromfield 7 years ago

    This is the post I’ve been really looking forward to! I have book-marked this so I can keep referring to when I’m ready to buy. I’m definitely going to try the Raphael Soft Aqua Quill.. I’ve have some Princeton Neptune brushes and I enjoy them. I’ve mainly used the Pentel Aquash brushes because the kind of art I do is quick and casual – so i thought but using real brushes is such a pleasure. LOL. I do need to invest in better brushes as I do enjoy them. Thank you!!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi Kari! Because I know what you like to paint in, the small 3/0 Soft Aqua has worked nicely on that paper. Love that little brush! Let me know what you end up getting and how you like them :). I’m also curious how you would compare them to the Neptunes. <3

  17. Effie Carayannis 7 years ago

    Thank you Jessica, that’s a very informative post, I purchased a complete set of Squirrel quill brushes which were recommended by a fellow artist. To my surprise (purchased online) I didn’t realise that these small sized brushes ( I mostly use small sized brushes) which I thought I ordered would arrive oversized. And secondly the wire wrapped around the ferrule scared me a little. They’ve been sitting at the bottom of my brush draw for years. Now I know what to use them for -watercolours! I can finally put them to use. Thank you again.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Oh wow Effie, that rediscovery is almost like going shopping! I looked at so many pictures and comparisons trying to figure out sizes before I purchased those quills. It is confusing, I’m so glad that this post was helpful to you! Have fun on you Squirrel quill watercolour adventure! 🙂

  18. nosolobici 7 years ago


  19. Ellie 7 years ago

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jessica! What a great review! I really appreciate all the time you put into this and the breadth of brushes you covered. I definitely will be bookmarking this so I can come back as I work through all the information.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for your encouraging comment Ellie! So glad that you found this helpful!

  20. wendymuldon 7 years ago

    So nice! I was thinking to buy brushes on the internet (I don’t get brand variety here) and this comes so useful! Awesome work

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Thank you Wendy, I’m so glad that this was timely, and helpful! Thanks so much for your comment! 🙂

  21. irakharch 7 years ago

    Please, stop in Ukraine, not in Russia for world tour. It’s new area for us and we are interesting in developing watercolor in Ukraine.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Hi, it is a virtual tour, with reviews on watercolor brands that are made in the countries that I mentioned.

      • irakharch 7 years ago

        Oh, thanks, I understand, so, maybe, you can make a review of some Ukrainian watercolor products and said that we should make more quality art supplies?

        • Author
          Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

          I would be happy to review watercolors from the Ukraine, but the set I have is the White Nights St. Petersburg set. My plan is to review those. I am not familiar with Ukrainian brands, will you give the name of them? I am in Arizona, USA and presently review my personal collection of paints and art supplies.

  22. irakharch 7 years ago

    I see, unfortunately as I know we have only Gamma and Rosa, hobby-level supplies. Thank you for answers.

  23. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 7 years ago

    You are thorough, Jessica. No excuse at all for painting with a can of spaghetti. (Spaghetti comes in a can?) My budget controls a lot of what I buy, which means I buy very little and I need them to last. This post is so helpful.

    I devised a little prop I thought I’d share. I bought a globe-shaped plastic topiary plant and put it inside a cheap plastic plant pot. The topiary sits down inside the pot. When my brush is too wet to pop back in the can or glass where it’s usually stored, I push the handle down into the topiary and the abundant plastic leaves hold it in place until it dries. The brush holder holds about 10 brushes without any of them touching another wet brush. The whole prop cost $3.

    Thank you, Jessica. Your reviews are always wonderful.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      That’s ingenious Sharon! I love it 🙂 . No I’m going to be out looking at objects more creatively.
      What no art and a canned dinner snack for you? Hehehe. I think the guy specializes in food art.

  24. Lisa Roberge 7 years ago

    Hi Jessica! Thanks so much for such a thorough review! I wanted to spread the word that Blick’s is having a huge sale on brushes that ends tomorrow 7/1!

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Yay, thanks Lisa!!

  25. Thank you for this article! I’ve been anxious over getting a quill and this takes a lot of pressure off getting the right one.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 7 years ago

      Awesome Ashley! I’m glad that it has been helpful to you. Thanks so much for your comment!

  26. […] This example is in a Stillman & Birn 4″x 6″ Gamma Series, the sky is Raw Umber Violet. For the brush curious- it’s a Rosemary & Co. Series 170. Pure Squirrel Mop size 10/0 and is a super sloppy brush.  If you like wet washes, this one’s good for it.  A post on brushes can be found here. […]

  27. […] More reviews on other travel set-ups can be found under “Reviews” at the top of the page. To save you some searching- here is one on mental travel palettes, and here for a Grace Art converted travel carry, and here for Charlie’s travel palette. How to make your own palette out of various tins here.  A post on other brushes here. […]

  28. […] preferred brushes are round natural sable brushes of different sizes, but I have found Princeton Artist Brush Co. […]

  29. […] I use Hahnemühle 300g watercolor cotton paper.  My watercolors are Schmincke Horadam and I use Escoda brushes. […]

  30. […] in awe of so many of the artists in the World Watercolor Group, I decided to invest in some new brushes – Kolinsky and AIT sable detail brushes – but I do still use my trusty Loew-Cornell 1812s […]

  31. […] favorite brushes at the moment are my travel brushes. The weight of the cap gives me the right balance so I don’t put too much pressure on my […]

  32. […] For the brushes, I favor a round watercolor brush with a pointed tip. It is like a combination of a small pointed tip brush and a common round brush. It is very useful for creating both details and the common round brush effect. Sometimes, I also use larger or wide brushes for background. Sable or Kolinsky bristle is more preferred. But, any soft synthetic brush that is capable of mimicking the texture of genuine bristles works fine as well. Those are the tools I currently use in practicing watercolor. […]

  33. […] and at least 300g/m2 -140lbs strong: cold pressed, hot pressed, rough … you name it. The same for brushes…anything […]

  34. […] is good for all of the layering that I do. I also use cold pressed paper. I love handmade Da Vinci brushes. They are expensive but they are worth it. I use Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton and Schmincke […]

  35. […] Also, she has encouraged me to finally buy artist quality paints and paper and a no. 12 Van Gogh brush. I finish my paintings with her tip of not forgetting the lightest light and the darkest dark. […]

  36. […] favorite paper is Saunders waterford or Arches rough, both 300 g, and Escoda brushes in all sizes. Colors I use: Cadmium red, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, cobalt blue, cerulean […]

  37. […] concentration of pigment and permanence ratings. I also invested in a few Daler Rowney and Raphael brushes of various sizes from flat to round squirrel mop. As for the paper, I normally painted on 300gsm […]

  38. […] fresh paint, this way the painting looks lively and bold. I always paint wet on dry. I use Escoda watercolor brushes, mostly the cat’s tongue and size 10 or 12 […]

  39. […] a watercolor kit (with a mix of artist’s grade pigments that changes too often to list) and a few brushes (if I had to grab just one, I’d go with the Rosemary & Co Sable Blend […]

  40. […] over the years. My current to-go setups are Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, Rosemary 1/4” travel dagger brush, and a mix of Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton and Holbein watercolors. I use a Uniball Signo gel […]

  41. […] over the years. My current to-go setups are Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, Rosemary 1/4” travel dagger brush, and a mix of Daniel Smith, Winsor & Newton and Holbein watercolors. I use a Uniball Signo gel […]

  42. […] Horadam as well as Winsor & Newton. In addition to colors and paper, a good quality of the brush is important. So I use the French “Petit Gris.” They are soft and absorb a lot of […]

  43. Alicia DR Hankins 6 years ago

    Thanks for this review! I am a brush nerd… and a paper nerd… lol.
    I want all the brushes you show here!
    Mostly, trying to focus on a travel brush and would love to have a sable.
    If only I could TRY one! 🙂
    Love all you have here, think I may have to join the community.

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

      I’m glad this review was helpful to you Alicia 🙂 The brushes I find myself using the most are the sables from Rosemary’s Brushes. Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Good luck on your brush quest! 🙂

  44. kh bokul 5 years ago

    dear I want to bay Raphaël Soft Aqua Quill brush but i don’t understand 6or8 what size beater for me please sagest me and what brush size like you most 🙂

    • Author
      Jessica Seacrest 5 years ago

      It would be difficult for me to day because it depends on what size you paint. Personally, I would go with the 6.

  45. […] I’m constantly researching and trying new brushes. […]

  46. […] adventurous. I tend to just stick to my trusty two – a Daler Rowney Aquafine Round size 6 and a Rosemary & Co Series 301 size 3 for finer details. I fish out my larger brushes for bigger pieces, but at the […]

  47. […] of Good Art Supplies (For e.g. Light-Fast Pigments, Good Brushes, professional quality […]

  48. […] also like all kinds of brushes ( Indian, Chinese, Royal & Langnickel and others) I have some from Canada as a friend has sent […]

  49. […] brushes are 4 round generic synthetic ones (#02, #06, #08, #12), a Cotman flat synthetic brush #6, and 2 […]

  50. Sandra Strait 5 years ago

    Great overview on brushes. I see a couple to put on my drool list!

  51. […] something like this!  So, I go to the store (you know the one), and buy a set of watercolors, some brushes, and watercolor paper.  I want to keep it simple so I opt for more sea creatures on a white […]

  52. […] handmade or cartridge paper, Camel Artist’s Watercolors and some natural hair round and flat brushes. But, recently I got Mijello Mission Gold pure pigment watercolor tubes and Art Secret 20RQ […]

  53. […] detail, these are ideal. My travel brushes include some from Rosemary & Co. (I especially love the travel dagger and travel mop), Da Vinci Cosmotop Spin 488 series and Escoda Versatil travel brushes. My favorite pens include […]

  54. […] become sensitive and respectful of them and to quickly pick up my brush and try to realize them on the paper while they are appearing in the mind. One idea was to try and […]

  55. […] “Rosa” of Ukraine so far in dishes, but the quality and color palette are high). I use different brushes, constantly experimenting, and often use brushes of artificial pile (round and […]

  56. […] Good quality brushes are my first preference. I do use a big round sable haired brush to release a big wash. Flat […]

  57. […] Waterford cold pressed paper but you are free to use your favourite brands of paper, paints and brushes. I used a 2B pencil to draw the main shapes. Notice how I did not go into the details with the […]

  58. […] what works best for you. This may change as you develop into a more mature artist. Whether you use flats or rounds or a combination of both has very little to do with the end result of your work. Believe me, I have purchased a ridiculous […]

  59. […] those handmade paints, as I feel like I am helping small business and entrepreneur. I am loving my Rosemary & Co brushes, Princeton and of course Silver Black Velvet (sacrificed 2 months worth of skincare to buy […]

  60. […] Opera, and Daniel Smith Aussie Red Gold. I use Isabey, DaVinci, Princeton, Winsor & Newton, and other quality brushes in wide flats and plump […]

  61. […] Brushes can be a minefield, but most of the new synthetic brushes are practically as good as sable. You can see sizes from 0 to 12 round brushes in my collection of sables plus a 2“ flat for washes.  I have been painting for such a long time now and I suppose it’s a natural progression to move on to sable when one can afford them. I do look after them well so I hope they will last me a long time. […]

  62. […] brushes, I am very particular about them, one of my most used brushes are Silver Brush, Da Vinci, Rosemary and […]

  63. […] quickly and are not necessarily much better than good quality synthetic brushes. I have several watercolor brushes from various manufacturers, such as Rafael, Da Vinci and Winsor & […]

  64. […] I often use Dutch watercolor paper: Schut Terschelling smooth. I like to work small. For some reason if I tried a bigger piece of paper it often didn’t work out as I wanted. But, I will keep practising that. I recently bought professional hot pressed paper from Arches. I thought it wouldn’t matter as much, but it does make a big difference! It can handle so much more layers and water. For watercolor I prefer to use tubes. I own Winsor & Newton and Van Gogh tubes. I would love to have a Daniel Smith set one day. I use a variety of watercolor brushes. […]

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