View Full Version : FOCUS GROUP: Brushes

09-03-2002, 01:52 AM
My initial thoughts:

It doesn't make sense to load up each individual brush out there (we'd be here for 10 years just trying to do that!). Instead, my guess is that it will be easier to load up the "line" or "series" of brushes, by brand, and allow folks to rate those.

Example: Grumbacher Gainsborough Brushes

If a reviewer has something to say about a particular brush in the line being reviewed, they can bring this up in the text of their review.

You can see the initial category breakdown in the demo.

What we need to do is compile a solid list of the vendors, their brands, and which category they best fit into. If you can find vendor logos, product images, product descriptions, etc., post 'em here and I'll incorporate them into the review system. If you can't find product images of good quality, product descriptions, etc., or don't have the time, that's okay - just post the vendor/brand name here, and I'll research it.

The Current List

Here is the current list (which I will try to keep as up-to-date as possible):

Quality of Construction: poorly made or solid state?
Comfortability? How comfortable are these brushes to use?
Quality of fiber/hair
Value for the Money


09-03-2002, 10:36 AM
**NOTE: I will keep this list as update as possible **

Finding information on the various lines of brushes out there is a difficult task. Most of the vendors (as you all know) have horriblly outdated web sites.

Some brands/lines that I know of (please provide corrections/additions!) :)

Daler-Rowney Robert Simmons Sapphire
Daler-Rowney Robert Simmons Signet
Daler-Rowney Robert Simmons Expression
Daler-Rowney Robert Simmons White Sable
Daler-Rowney Robert Simmons Sienna
Daler-Rowney Robert Simmons Skyscraper (Series 755)

Holbein Professional White Brushes

W&N Cirrus
W&N Sceter Gold
W&N Cotman
W&N University
W&N Water Color Brushes
W&N WInton
W&N Artisan
W&N Galeria
Loew Cornell Arttec White
Loew Cornell Arttec Red
Loew Cornell Bristle
Loew Cornell Classic Bristle
Loew Cornell Natural Hair
Loew Cornell Mixtique
Loew Cornell American Painter
Loew Cornell Comfort
Loew Cornell La Corneille Taklon

Grumbacher Gainsborough
Grumbacher Golden Edge
Grumbacher Finest Bristle
Grumbacher Academy

Silver Brush Limited: Grand Prix
Silver Brush Limited: Silverstone
Silver Brush Limited: Faye
Silver Brush Limited: Le Mans
Silver Brush Limited: Golden Natural
Silver Brush Limited: Ruby Satin
Silver Brush Limited: Renaissance
Silver Brush Limited: Silverwhite
Silver Brush Limited: Wash & Blend
Silver Brush Limited: Mops
Silver Brush Limited: Ultra Mini
Silver Brush Limited: Black Velvet
Silver Brush Limited: 7500
Silver Brush Limited: Premier
Silver Brush Limited: Silver Kolinsky

ABS Brushes: Kolinsky for Watercolour Series
ABS Brushes: Pure Red Sable for Watercolour Series
ABS Brushes: Pure Squirrels
ABS Brushes: Reflex
ABS Brushes: Golden Synthetic Nylon
ABS Brushes: Mongoose for Watercolours/Oils/Acrylics
ABS Brushes: Best Quality Bristle
ABS Brushes: Bristle
ABS Brushes: Bristle Stencil/Powder

Royal & Langnickel: Soft-Grip
Royal & Langnickel: Aqualon
Royal & Langnickel: Sunburst
Royal & Langnickel: Snowhite
Royal & Langnickel: White Taklon
Royal & Langnickel: Golden Taklon
Royal & Langnickel: Royal Knight
Royal & Langnickel: Doll Collection
Royal & Langnickel: Royal Garden
Royal & Langnickel: Nocturna
Royal & Langnickel: Combo
Royal & Langnickel: Pure Red Sable
Royal & Langnickel: Supreme
Royal & Langnickel: Regis

Other vendors/brands that I know of, but haven't broken down into lines/series yet:

Dick Blick
Borciani & Bonazzi (Italian brushes)
Carlo Kolloeffel (Italian)


09-03-2002, 10:38 AM
Ideas for rating questions on brushes:

- Durability: how well does this brush hold up after continued use?
- Construction Quality: how well are they built? Do the bristles fall out? The ferrule break off? etc.
- Quality of fiber: How would you rate the quality of the hair/fiber in this line of brushes?
- Ease in Cleaning: Are they hard to clean?

I am far from being a brush expert - these may or may not be useful.


09-06-2002, 10:49 AM
More thoughts. I have brush manufacturers. They seemingly cannot "keep it simple"! :)

I have yet to find an art supply manufacturer that actually has all of their products on their web site. There are a few that are close. Winsor & Newton has virtually no information on its brushes at all. Same for Daler-Rowney. Go figure.

So many brands, so many series/lines, and some brushes don't even appear in a series or line. Not sure what the best way to approach this is.

I don't want to put in every single brush as an individual item.

Also, I'm not sure my categories are accurate. There exists a lot of crossover in those categories. Some brushes are useful for oils and acrylics, for instance.

Thoughts welcome!


09-06-2002, 10:53 AM
How about Dick Blick's own line of brushes? There seems to be a lot of them, let me see if I can find a list.

Wes Hyde
09-06-2002, 11:15 AM
I use the Winsor & Newton Cirrus, series 550, long handled, flat brushes almost exclusively in my painting. I have found that they are very durable and comfortable to paint with.

After use, I place the brush in a glass of turpenoid, and continue painting with another brush. When I'm finished painting--or when all my brushes are in the glass--I brush the bristles agains the side of the glass, squeezing the thinned paint out, then dry with a paper towel. After all the brushes are partially cleaned in this way I take them to the sink and use a mild soap such as Nutrogena to finish cleaning them, working the soap into the bristles and squeezing it out under a flow of warm water until the water runs clear.

I have used most of these brushes for two years and they show little wear. Rarely have I had a bristle fall out in a painting.

On a scale of 1 - 10, I'd rate them a 10.



09-06-2002, 11:18 AM
Of course, you'll have the chance to rate them officially in the new review system when we roll it out. :)

The question is: do we list the individual series, or the entire line? As some vendors do not seemingly break their brushes down into "lines" or "brands", this may be tough. This may be very much of a "hybrid" set of categories.

Also, we need input on those review questions, gang. What do we need to ask a reviewer when evaluating/rating a line of brushes?

For a detailed overview of the rating scheme we are using, see the thread entitled "Overview: Important Information".


Wes Hyde
09-06-2002, 11:20 AM
OK, that link isn't working. Try Google: winsor newton cirrus

Wes Hyde
09-06-2002, 11:25 AM
In Mr. Mom, Michael Keaton drives into the school to drop the kids off in the wrong direction. Everyone tells him, "You're doing it wrong."

I'm doing it wrong. LOL

OK, I think it would be difficult to rate an entire line, such as the Cirrus, since there are brushes made for watercolor and others made for oil, in the same line. I would say break it down into series where you can, and leave it in a line category where this would be impractical. Another question you might ask is if the brush is comfortable, which includes thickness and lenth of the handle.

Hope this helps,


09-06-2002, 11:47 AM
Originally posted by scottb
Ideas for rating questions on brushes:

- Durability: how well does this brush hold up after continued use?
- Construction Quality: how well are they built? Do the bristles fall out? The ferrule break off? etc.
- Quality of fiber: How would you rate the quality of the hair/fiber in this line of brushes?
- Ease in Cleaning: Are they hard to clean?

Well, how detailed do you want to get?

Ferrules: Seamed or seamless? Aluminum, tin, or brass/copper? Is the crimping functional, or is it just decorative, with the ferrule only glued on?

Construction - machine made or hand made? Are the hairs cut at the tips to even the brush up?

Hairs and bristles - are they natural or synthetic? Are they what they claim to be, or are they a mix? Some sables, for example, are actually a mix of sable and dyed ox hair, or even dyed synthetics. And badger brushes aren't always made with badger hair anymore, so what might be called a 'badger brush' may not actually have any badger hair in it at all. For bristle brushes, do the bristles contain a lot of flags?

As for ease in cleaning, well I think that has more to do with your cleaning methods and materials than the brush itself.

Just thoughts off the top of my head. :)


09-06-2002, 01:26 PM
DraigAtharmakes good points. I'm wondering if you need one review page for wc brushes and another for oils??? (Yeah. Leave it to me to complicate things.) I look for different handling qualities in the two. For instance, with a bristle brush for oils - how much scrubbing can it stand? With a sable for watercolors - does it carry a heavy load well and keep a fine point?

My favorite wc brush ever: http://www.cheapjoescatalog.com/catalog/products.asp?id=107&pid=17&ppid=2

Good luck Scott. Thanks for keeping us involved.

09-06-2002, 02:33 PM
Good thoughts, Draig!

Originally posted by DraigAthar

Well, how detailed do you want to get?

I want to get as detailed as possible, without getting scientifically "ridiculous" in the process. :)

Seriously, though, basically, I just want us all to throw out ideas, come up with an initial "list" of rating questions, and continue to refine our list until we feel that it is adequate. I don't want rating questions so complex that only 3 people in the world are actually qualified to fill out a review, but I don't want it to be so simple as to invite masses of unqualified people to review an item either.

Hope that makes sense - lol.

Keep those ideas coming!


09-06-2002, 02:35 PM
Originally posted by ellenf
DraigAtharmakes good points. I'm wondering if you need one review page for wc brushes and another for oils??? (Yeah. Leave it to me to complicate things.)

Actually, we have them split apart currently for the reasons that you pointed out. The issue will be the so-called "multi-medium" brushes.

Good luck Scott. Thanks for keeping us involved.

Hey, I couldn't possibly do this by myself. There is too much knowledge out there in WC-land - we need to leverage our collective wisdom and do this thing right the first time! :)


09-08-2002, 05:44 PM
I've updated the list at the top - thoughts?

09-13-2002, 10:27 AM
Still looking for some more thoughts on how to best approach the reviewing of brushes.

I am examining the effort needed to break the brushes down into "series", rather than "line/brand". There are some pros to this:

It is easy then to put the brushes into the appropriate category, even within the same line. For example, W&N Cirrus brushes are available in several series for watercolors, and several for oil/acrylic.
This facilitates better reviews - as the reviews will be more focused

Then, there is the big downside:

There will be a LOT more product entries to wade through. One brand/line may contain 10 or more series of brushes. So instead of one item entry for "W&N Cirrus", there will be a dozen, each with their own reviews.

I am wondering if it wouldn't be better to group the series together as a single item. Example:

W&N Cirrus (Watercolor Series)
W&N Cirrus (Oil/Acrylic Series)

Then, basically, in the item description, we can list the individual series, and what they are. This keeps the item count down to something manageable, and still allows for separation where appropriate.

This way, when people rate the brushes, they can rate all of the series that are applicable for that medium (i.e. rating all of the Cirrus brushes designed for watercolors). I don't think that the differences between the series (in the same medium) are worth reviewing separately. Thoughts?


09-13-2002, 11:15 AM
Hmm. Now I just realized that some brushes in the same line are made of different materials. One series may be Kolinsky sable, another might be hog bristle. :(

Scratch that last post. I guess the best way to do it is by series ...

09-16-2002, 10:14 PM
I use the Winsor & Newton Cirrus, series 550, long handled, flat brushes almost exclusively in my painting. I have found that they are very durable and comfortable to paint with.

Same here! They're the best I've found.

Scott - what would be the most useful to me would be to group the brushes by material used and type. For instance:
- OIL:
-- Sable Flats
--- WN Cirrus 550
--- Royal & Langnickel: Pure Red Sable
--- etc.
-- Sable Rounds
-- Sable Filberts
-- Hog bristle brights...
-- Badger hair Filberts...
-- Hog bristle fans...

Then the same for watercolor.

Then, if I am looking for a Kolinsky flat, I can go look at the reviews for that type brush and see what brand looks best. I know what type of brush I need to buy and just need to know quality of brands.

How difficult this would be, I have no idea.

-Stability - do bristles keep falling out?
-Strokability - Paint goes on how well?

09-16-2002, 10:50 PM
Good thoughts, Randy.

Getting brushes "right" is going to be a challenge - no doubt about it. I like the idea of breaking them down into the material type/brush style combo. Of course, that still leaves the final question hanging: how do we handle multi-medium brushes?

If we break it down into the type/style hierarchy, is this even a concern anymore? I mean, a "sable flat" is a "sable flat". It doesn't really matter what its used for, right? A "hog bristle filbert" will always be a "hog bristle filbert". That will never change - hehe. A "synthetic fan blender" is what it is. It is up to the artist to determine the appropriate application.

If my thinking is accurate here, then we could dispense with the higher part of the brush hierarchy (oil brushes, watercolor brushes, etc.). It might look something like:

- Red Sable
- Flats/Brights
- Royal & Langnickel: Pure Red Sable
- Rounds
- Fans
- Blenders
- Filberts

- Kolinsky Sable
- Black Fitch
- Hog Bristle
- Synthetic Bristle
- Synthetic Sable
- etc

In this manner, we can compare items of the same material and style.

I think we're getting close here ...


09-17-2002, 12:09 AM
You're right! That's sounds good to me.

09-17-2002, 12:19 AM
Actually, on second thought, wouldn't it be even better to have it the other way around?

-Other synthetic


'Cause sometimes you might want a filbert you you may not be totally sold on the material.

09-17-2002, 12:27 AM
Yeah, I think you're right ...

12-02-2002, 01:52 PM
I think that breaking it down by material and type is a good way to go. Then, just add a question in the review that says something like "Recommended Mediums"

So, you could have something like

--Kolinsky Sable
----Escoda Series 1212 Tajmir

Recommended Mediums: Watercolor

As far as watercolor brushes go, I really like the way they are reviewed at http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/brush3.html

I think that comfort can be such a subjective thing. I like that the review uses a standard, such as the #6 size brush and lists measurements for the brush length and ferrule. Silly me, but I also like that it mentions the styling of the brush, how it snaps, and the crimping/tightness of the ferrule.

You will also want to add Cheap Joe's and Daniel Smith's brushes into the list.

12-02-2002, 02:04 PM
Good thoughts, Elankat. I'm planning on focusing on brushes more, once I finally roll out watercolors and pastels. :)

G.L. Hoff
01-21-2003, 05:01 PM
Hi, Scott--

Just looked in here after noticing that brushes aren't a selection in the product reviews section...so here's my 2 cents about the discussion so far:

I don't agree with the idea of dividing brushes by shape. While the usage is always up to the painter, brushes are made with a specific paint or other material in mind. Granted, sables or natural hair can be used with many kinds of paint, but not hog bristle, often not badger, etc. Instead, I'd divide the categories by the painting medium--i.e watercolor brushes, acrylic brushes, oil brushes, etc--and I think it'd be easier for a particular painter to look them up that way, rather than dividing the whole category by brush shape...that is, painters look for the kind brush by knowing what kind of painting they want to do with it. Oil brushes are different than watercolor (longer handles, hog bristles aren't used for wc much, etc); natural fiber brushes aren't recommended by many when using acrylic paint; etc, etc.

As to the qualities of brushes and how they're rated:

construction--how firm is the glue (ie do hairs fall out after the first use?), how are the ferrules, the handles, etc.?

durability--how long can you use 'em?

value (ie price vs. lasting power)

material (bristle, hair, synthetic)

service (okay, you're rating the company here, not the product, but that's not necessarily bad--do they provide warranty? do they provide help promptly? etc)

Also, no one has mentioned my favorite brand of brushes (only available online): Trekell. You can find 'em at

02-27-2003, 03:01 AM
This may be a very dumb addition to your questions but how about value for money??

As a disabled person on Benefits this is a high priority for me! Also what about availability. As you say many vendors internet sites are not uptodate and do not include all the series they stock??

Just ignore me if that was a stupid suggestion:confused: lol.

I am very new to watercolour and I have not even tried the other mediums needing brushes so I will not be able to review but I can have a think about what else I might need to know? Would that be at all useful?:confused:

Warm Regards,


11-12-2003, 04:37 AM
As a designer of searchable database IMHO
I would suggest:

Head style: Round

Material: Natural

Handle Length: Short (Watercolor)
Long (Oils)

Manufactuter: W&N

Series: No 7

Qualities: Point

This structure will get you to every type of brush with the most logical search.
I do not know what you search ablities of the database is.
Can you search by all these catogories, ie a simple query.

Any questions, please reply.
I can do this for any product review.



04-03-2004, 02:50 AM
Hi Scott,

As a new artist searching endlessly for brushes I have come across various artists and Dick Blick selling their sets of brushes ---their particular selections for portrait oils for example. Some are their own line and some are a mix of several different manufacturers and to do the same type of works they use various different brushes. In my efforts to determine what to purchase I am tempted to purchase such sets at times. Would you please include "sets" in the brush ratings. Also, I think we should have a ratings vote count to reflect the number of reviews that determined the rating of any and all things in the whole forum.

As far as brush rating catagories I would like to see a "most equivilent to..." catagory. It seems to me it would help a great deal for us users to fully understand what the brush is like. If I already have brand X # so & so I will better understand what brush Y is really like to use before I purchase it. Here again, this may be useful all across the forum. Rather than just using bare statistics to compare it allows the user almost an equivilent to a test ride & that is what we need and why we are here in the first place. If I can help you just let me know.


04-14-2004, 10:03 PM
Don't forget your 40% discount coupon from Michaels Craft store. :eek:

03-25-2007, 12:03 PM
I look at brushes and simply, "why should I pay that price?" Amazing clarity occurs. $24.50 for a brush that is made of Wood, Enamel and Nylon. $1.99 for a brush which is made of plastic with Nylon bristles. Hmmm... I'll take the Royal Softgrips for $1.99 please!
Because... as with all things of fun and pleasure, you're going to get it on your tool. Gee, I meant that differently than it looks on the page... anyway, beautiful, fancy wood, other than Cypress, is going to be painted on, swell and crack. Plastic, no. Is it a better quality of Nylon? No! It's the same stuff in your mamma's panty hose, just fabricated differently.
DEMAND value for price paid and inflation will die!

03-28-2007, 10:59 AM
I have a question for anyone out there. So far I have never had a synthetic brush (watercolor or Oil) that was worth a damn. Can anyone recommend one. They all start out OK, but I have noticed most of them cannot retain a good point after any serious usage.

03-28-2007, 11:02 AM
Don't forget your 40% discount coupon from Michaels Craft store. :eek:

I no longer buy brushes from Michaels. Not since they just opened a Jerry's Artorama. Michaels only carries cheap brushes (at least the one in Va. Bch) I order online or go to Jerry's. I am now making a practice of buying 1 brush per payday. ;)

07-13-2007, 05:17 AM
Just a silly thought........
Member evaluation
Product you have used
Positive remarks
Negative remarks
Overall rating 1 to 10
Would you buy this product again
Thank you for your evaluation.

Members can list all the details, that they think are relative to the products merits/shortcomings, that affected their evaluation.

I am a newbie, and after playing with all mediums, off, and on, I finally selected Acrylic's, and watercolor. I chose Dick Blick's Acrylics, because they guarranteed them to be equal to, or better than any Acrylic on the market. I chose WN artists WC, as most people use them. I have purchased all my supplies from Dick Blick, because the service is excellent, and the support from customer service, is great, and they help support our group. Looking forward to all the help I can get, as I am retired, and decided I needed a hobby. I have been reading your information, on WC, and acrylics, and it scares me a little, but I have the material, and I intend to master it, at least to make myself feel good. LOL. Thanks for reading this:wave: :wave: :wave: :wave: :)

01-31-2009, 11:07 AM
Did anything every come of this? Unless I am missing something, I don't see brushes on the Product Review website...

02-01-2009, 05:43 AM
A good idea, we have a Book Reviews thread in the Watercolor Learning Zone on the same lines. Let's hope there is room for a proper product evaluation section in the revamped site.


04-15-2010, 08:31 PM
..."In Mr. Mom, Michael Keaton drives into the school to drop the kids off in the wrong direction. Everyone tells him, "You're doing it wrong."

When I was sixteen, I was going the wrong way on a one way street at night, and the police stopped me. One said, "Didn't you know this was a one-way street?"

Being a teenager, I replied, "Yes, and I was only going one way."

Let's just say he was very 'not' amused.