The Princeton Artist Brush Company carries a variety of brushes in many shapes, sizes and bristles. The Select Artiste is largest line, with 29 brush shapes, and enough sizes to for 108 brushes, all created to use with oil, acrylic and watercolor.
About the Select Artiste Brushes
The brushes comes in different types synthetic hair and short-handled brushes, in an attractive blue. Given the number of shapes, there is a Select Artiste brush for almost any kind of work you want to do.
These brushes come in sets, but can also be purchased individually.
All Princeton brushes are rated at the site for on a scale of one to five, and the Select Artiste are rated as:
- STIFFNESS III
- ACRYLIC IIIII
- WATERCOLOR IIII
- OIL III
Although these brushes are rated well for acrylic and oil, I’ll be concentrating on watercolor in this review.
I love that Princeton has a stiffness rating, because it is something I always want to know about a new brush. The stiffness affects how much water the brush will hold, how defined the brush strokes will be, and how flexible it will be. If I know the stiffness, I’m halfway to knowing what I should expect from the brush.
Being of a medium stiffness, I expect a brush that holds a decent amount of water/paint. I’ll have to reload it with water/paint more often than I like, but not so often as to be annoying. I’ll expect a smooth stroke, but I’ll see the bristle marks if I let the paint get too thick. I’ll be able to pick up color fairly well, but it won’t happen accidentally when I’m trying to layer. The bristles will be reasonably flexible, but I won’t be doing brush acrobatics with them. These are what I expect from a medium stiff brush of any brand.
When I tested the Select Artiste, I compared them to these expectations.
Not all Select Artiste brushes are made of the same material. A few shapes are made with natural hair, but the majority of them are synthetic. I was sent a selection of eight different shapes. All eight are made with synthetic filaments , except for the Pointed Filbert, which is made with natural bristle hair.
The brushes I received are:
- Round, Size 2, 4, 6, 12
- Flat Wash, Size 3/4”
- Filbert, Size 8
- Pointed Filbert, Size 6
- Oval Wash, Size 3/4”
- Liner, Size 2
- Angular Shader, 1/2”
- Dagger Striper 1/4”
The other shapes available in this line are the Angular Shader (Mini), Bristle Bright, Bristle Fan, Bristle Fan Mini, Spotter, Mini-Spotter, Scumbler, Round Blender, Round-Mini, Monogram, Mini Monogram, Lunar Blender, Lunar Blender Mini, Angle Spot Detailer, Chisel Blender, Deerfoot Stippler, Fan, Filbert Mini, Filbert Grainer, Fix-it Scrubber, Flat Shader, Flat Shader mini, Fluffy Mop, Grainer, Liner-Mini, Lunar Mop, Mop, Oval Mop, and the Script Liner.
If you’re like me, you’re wondering what all these different shapes do. I briefly describe a little about the brushes I received, but explaining them all is a bigger subject than my review can cover. Fortunately, the Princeton Artist Brush Company has lots of easy to understand information about them. Really, it’s a great place to learn about paint brushes in general.
I almost always start off with a painting that I start and just let happen. I used every one of the eight brushes in this painting. I probably would have used them for more detail, but the Frog Overlord demanded I quit and get started on other paintings, lol.
Select Artiste Rounds
You can draw, you can create washes, you can write, and dab, and do just about anything that can be done with a brush. The jack-of-all-trades in brush shapes, the round is the most commonly used because of this versatility. Other shapes might do a particular thing better, but the round pretty much does it all.
The size of the round brush does make it better for some things than others — a larger round does better washes, a small round is better for line work. Although, a good round that comes to a fine tip will give you thin lines and fine detail no matter the size.
I took my photo before washing out the sizing that is used to protect brushes for shipping. The tips above look a bit squashed, but once I rinsed them out and shaped them they come to a sharp point. A common problem with brushes in this price range (and some in higher!) are points with a slight hook to the side. The points of all four of my Select Artiste brushes are true, coming to a fine point in the center.
I decided I’d do lettering in these examples, because it is a good test of a brush’s flexibility. I’m not great at calligraphy, and didn’t even try to make it pretty. But it shows me how well the brush handles the rounds of the letters, and how it flows from line to shape to line.
I used the side of the brush for large washes of color, and the point for fine detail. Varying pressure allowed me to change to shape of the marks and create texture.
You’re trying to paint a window and you just can’t get a crisp edge. That’s probably because you aren’t using a flat. That squared off tip is perfect for architectural paintings. Create broad strokes using the flat edge or fine lines with the chisel
You can load paint on one side, all along the edge, or just on the sides to create different marks.
It’s a bit difficult to show in a photo, but another thing to take into account with a flat is the thickness at the edge of the bristles. At 3/4 inch, this is a good size flat, but it comes to a nice chisel-sharp edge. This edge will determine how thin a line you can get.
The real beauty of a flat is the ability to use the side of the brush to paint a wedge shape, like a window, and have a nice crisp edge at both sides.
I’ve never found a synthetic flat that didn’t splay once it starts to get dry, and this flat does — see the strokes that split apart toward the center. To avoid the splaying you just keep the brush or paper moist. You can also take advantage of the splaying to deliberately get texture in your painting.
You’ll notice in the black and white stroke examples for both the rounds and the flat, that I’ve done quite a bit of scumbling. — that pebbly look when the brush is almost dry and paint is only left on the most textured part of the part (the bottom left above is a good example). The effect is also called dry brushing.
It’s a nice effect, but hard on your brushes, so use it sparingly. It’s easier to see in quick doodles like I’ve done above, but look at the painting below.
In a painting that isn’t architectural, the flat can give you a broad, vaguely squared appearance that is great for rock and stone. The splaying creates great grasses.
Synthetic filaments are getting better and better when it comes to holding a good deal of water, but once again the price range reflects how much water a brush will hold, whether it’s natural or synthetic. The Select Artiste holds a decent amount — the high end of what I expect from a brush in this price range.
I used both scumbling and splaying of the brush deliberately. Look at the forehead and side of the neck for the splaying, and at the stone at the top of the background for the sparkling highlights created by scumbling.
Almost any synthetic brush and many natural hair brushes will give you these effects when they are almost dry, but I find the flat easiest to use when I’m trying to do them deliberately.
Round and Flat are the two main types of brushes and the most commonly used. Most of the specialty shapes are a variation of one or the other.
As with so many things to do with painting, there are no official standards to brush shapes. Most of the oval wash brushes I’ve had in the past are also called cat’s tongue – a flat thickness with rounded shape that comes to a sharp point in the center. As you can see in the photo above, this oval wash is quite different. It’s longer, softly rounded and does not come to a point.
The filaments are placed so the brush is soft, and I use it more like a mop. It’s great for wetting the paper down for wet-on-wet techniques and applying large washes.
As you can see, this isn’t a brush for small or fine detail. You can do some interesting mark-making, though. If you are trying to loosen up your work this is a good brush to use because it makes you keep to simple shapes.
With some care, you can get smaller lines using the edge of the brush, but they will be jagged. For large area of fresh color and soft blending, this is a wonderful brush.
You don’t always want a straight, flat line. The filbert shape gives you a softer, rounded edge that’s great for painting flowers, but you can use the edges for thinner lines as well. Those lines will have rounded ends rather than flat ones.
Except for getting sharp flat edges, you can use a filbert just like you would a flat brush.
The filbert is good for leaves, just about anything really, except for architectural paintings.
I was drawn to this reference photo of Angel Wing Begonia leaves, because I thought “Oh, spots! Filberts are good for those!” Once I started, I did realize that I wasn’t painting spots, but around them instead. I think there might have been tequila involved in the decision to continue.
A filbert isn’t quite flexible enough to paint around oval shapes, but I liked the effect anyway and decided to keep it as my example.
The pointed filbert is the only brush in this selection (though not in the Select Artiste line) that is not synthetic. It is made from natural bristles that give it a stiffer point. I mentioned cat’s eye brushes above. While this is similar the overall shape of the pointed filbert is more triangular.
Similar to the filbert, the pointed variety is more flexible, allowing very thin lines, and pointed shapes. Good for almost anything, but it’s harder to do broad strokes.
This shape is good for softly blended edges, as well as precise lines.
The Dagger Striper shape gives you precise, thin lines and allows you to go from thin to thick, smoothly.
The dagger striper gives you marks that are similar to those from the pointed filbert. I don’t find it quite as flexible, but it gives you a longer straight line.
This shape is good for broad, flowing strokes while being capable of smaller, finer detail.
You’ve got two colors and you want a sharp, hard change between one and the other. The Angular Shader allows great control of your edges, getting into those tight areas, and nice straight lines. The shorter, stiffer bristles aren’t as flexible as the filbert and dagger but create a sharper, heavier edge.
The angular shader is much like the flat, but doesn’t usually have the chisel-edge, and that angle can help you create corners.
Because the bristles are shorter, the brush isn’t as flexible as the pointed filbert or the dagger striper, but it will give you cleaner, crisper edges.
You can load up each side of the angular shader with different colors, and get a softer blending as well as the crisp edges. You see more of the stroke itself that you will with a softer brush, so more texture, more of a squared off look even in the softer areas.
The liner brush isn’t really meant to be used very much. As the name ‘liner’ implies it’s the brush you grab for long thin lines. The rigging of a ship. Fences in the distance. The separation between blocks of tile or stone. Many brushes will give you a thin line when you use them on theor edge, but if you drag them very far, the line starts to get ragged.
The liner brush gives you a line that’s straight, and stays thin.
Great for calligraphy, and outlining, you can use a liner for doodling. You can use it to fill in spaces, but really, other brushes do it faster and more easily. You need to reload this brush often because there are only a few bristles there — hardly anything to hold water or paint.
I wouldn’t want to use this brush very often to do a complete painting like this. It’s sure great for branches though. Definitely a brush you won’t use often, unless you’re painting certain subjects, but it is a brush that you will appreciate having when you do need it.
Select Artiste Brushes – Overall
I would put the Select Artiste brush into the category of a brush that can get it done at a reasonable price. There are brushes that are better and last longer, but you’ll see that reflected in the price. If you want champagne art but have a beer art budget, the Select Artiste is a great choice.
A brush is often expensive because it does a great deal of the work for you. In the long run, it can be better to start out with a brush like this — you do more of the work yourself, and learn more along the way. And when you become famous, and can afford to indulge in those premium brushes, you’ll have more appreciation for what they do.
Links of Interest
I received fifteen Select Artiste Brushes of varying sizes and shapes, one pad Saunders Waterford 9×12 Cold Pressed , and one block of Saunders Waterford Rough from Princeton Artist Brush Company for the purposes of this review. I received no other considerations, though this post may contain affiliate links which help support Doodlewash. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in