Choosing Watercolor Paintbrushes
In my previous two videos, I talked about choosing watercolor paper and what works for you. It's not technical. It's my quick and simple method for beginners to get started and taking action quickly.
The second video in this series is about choosing your color palette. How do you know what you're going to want to paint? I hope you will go and look at those. Here are the links. Today I'm going to be talking about paintbrushes since you can't paint without them.
Unlike in my previous videos where I went small to large, this time I'm going to go from large to small because that's how you usually paint. If you are doing a large painting and you're going to need to lay down large washes, you will want a big brush. I have a couple of examples here of large brushes, so if you're painting a full sheet of watercolor and you want to wet the whole sheet of watercolor paper so that you can get the buckling out and the shrinking and everything, then this is a really good one.
It's a three-inch, large area artist's brush. If you're painting a sky, for example, and you want to get a lot of color down and keep it wet, that's a good brush to use. (Mine is a bit rusty.)
Here's another option. This is a mop brush. It's natural hair and it holds a lot of water. It's another one that you can use for doing large areas. If you want to paint wet and wet for clouds and sky for example, you can wet your whole paper with a brush like the flat one, then go in with the color right away with your mop brush so you will basically be working with two brushes at a time.
When you start working a little smaller or in smaller areas, this Japanese brush, called a hake, also holds a lot of water.
If I were using a small piece of paper and wanted to do a landscape, I might wet the whole sky, then squeeze the water from the brush and pick up some blue. This is a one and a half inch brush, and is a handy brush to have.
The difference between synthetic and real hair is the synthetic has more spring to the bristles, but it holds less water.
The flat brush with the square tip gives a really nice line and fills in lots of color quickly. This is a good one to use if you have straight lines and edges. If I were painting the side of a building, for example, and I wanted to have a nice straight edge, then brush is a good choice.
When working a bit smaller, such as when I'm doing florals, I'll often use this brush, depending how large I'm painting. This is a Size 12 brush and has natural bristles.
You can see what kind of line it makes. Both of these brushes hold a lot of water, so if you're working on a piece where you need to work continuously and you don't want to stop and pick up paint again, this kind of brush works really well. One has a bit shorter bristles, which gives me a little bit more control.
Synthetic brushes are often a lot less expensive than natural bristle ones, so depending on your budget, if you just want to start out and try painting, synthetic brushes are just fine. A lot of what you'll be working on is getting to know the paint, how it acts on the paper, how water reacts with it, and what kind of things you like to paint.
This kind of flat brush (below), as I mentioned with the others, is great if you're using it for straight lines. If I were, for example, painting shutters on a building and wanted to make sure it has sharp, square corners, I would use a brush like this.
It doesn't hold quite as much water as does a natural bristle brush, so I have had to keep dipping my color in there to get some intensity. That's good reason to have a natural bristle brush.
Because I like to work small and I like detail, I tend to have a lot of smaller brushes. A Kolinsky Sable brush holds so much water you can do a lot of finer work and still have it give you a precise point.
Here are two of my favourites. You can probably tell because they have no tips left on them; I wear them right off. They're Size 4, and you can see how scruffy they are from much use.
Now I've got a couple of synthetics here. This one is a number six and this one's a number four, so this one is going to be very similar to that one, but because it's synthetic you'll find it doesn't hold as much water. Because it has such a tight bristles and a bounce to it, it doesn't spread out as much when you press on it.
Now if you're going to do really detailed work, there are lots of little tiny ones you can get.
There is a sable brush that has been used rather a lot. It holds quite a bit of water even though it's super tiny; it's good for fine detail. A Size 0 paints a fine line. If you're doing stamens on a flower, for example, this kind of brush is perfect.
The one with long, fine bristles is called a rigger, which is great if you're doing rigging on a ship painting but it's also great for vines and narrow sweeping lines of paint.
That's just a brief overview of some different brushes, what they can do, and a look at some of the paints I use on watercolor paper. Please watch the video for more in-depth descriptions.