View Full Version : Need help with brushes

05-10-2010, 03:16 PM
Haven't been in this forum since it started. Wow! So many wonderful and helpful posts! An illness prevented me from painting for the past few years but I finally pulled out my paints and am enjoying them immensely.

After early trials with other brands, I switched over to Holbein Duo with a few colors in Lukas Berlin. Love the creaminess and blendability. And they actually can be thinned with water as opposed to the other brands which are not really made to be thinned that way and end up sticky. (BTW, spoke with one of the technical peeps at Holbein and he actually thins it down to use in airbrushing! - Amazing stuff.)

Now to the brush question. I've always used the W/N Artisan brushes - mostly filberts but now am experimenting with others as well. I also like the Creative Mark, DaVinci and Princeton 6300 series. With my next brush order, after reading recommendations here, I will try some Robert Simmons Titaniums. I always liked their Expressions brand for acrylics as they chiseled well and were ergonomic.

However, my question is about Red Sables. For Water Soluble Oils we generally have better luck with synthetics since water cleanup beats up hog hair, etc. For my detailed work, such as when I paint birds, I like red sables to apply thin layers and chisel them up well (they are short brights).

My brush of choice are the magnificent 700 series Winsor Newton red sables. They are stiff enough to move the W/S paint straight yet they are flexible and chisel well for crisp curves, edges and sharp work like on feathers. Sadly, W/N discontinued them. I prefer short handled red sables (with long handled filbert synthetics for the lay-ins). Finding decent red sable brights that hold a good chisel edge has been daunting. Langnickel Royal Sables were recommended but they are a thick brights with lots of hair. They just don't work as well for refined detailed work and get limper if water is mixed in. They are fine for large work and blending (I love the Royal Sable filberts for blending).

Any ideas folks?

BTW, I am really happy this forum was created and survived. I know it was instrumental in encouraging me to retry W/S oils after not having a good initial experience with them. (Sloopy, sticky mess anyone?) The fine and generous artists in here have shared their experiences and knowledge to help overcome problems such as thinning, glazing, etc. It has opened up a whole new world for me as I cannot use regular oils because of the solvents and most mediums. I occasionally go back to acrylics or use them as an underpainting, but the blendability and richness of oils is heaven to me.

Thanks in advance!


05-14-2010, 11:36 AM
I'd recommend that you request a free catalogue from rosemaryandco.com

They have lots of choice and most of their brushes are available in short and long handles.

I like the ivory and eclipse synthetic brushes but they have very nice sables too.

05-14-2010, 10:34 PM
Hi Erik! Thanks so much for the suggestion. I have not heard of these brushes before. They look very interesting. Just sent for a catalogue.

BTW, I checked out your website and love your work. I love animals and paint birds as well. The one with the golden hairdo and the water birds are quite spectacular. Were all these done in W/S oils? Which brand do you use? And which brushes do you use for all the detail like the feathers?

Thanks again, Bliss

05-15-2010, 02:30 AM
Hi Bliss,
Thanks for the compliments.
Most of those paintings were painted with Winsor & Newton Artisan W/S oils, and a few were done in acrylics. Artisan tends to be very stiff from the tube and you need to mix in a drop of medium or linseed oil to make the paint more creamy.
I just bought a set of Royal Talens Cobra water mixable oil and I'm looking forward to giving them a try, they should be more smooth and they are artist grade.
For details I use small filbert brushes or a synthetic rigger brush. Hope that helps.

05-15-2010, 08:05 PM
Thanks Erik for sharing that. I use Holbein Duo because I never liked the stiffness of W/N Artisan or Max paints. They are lovely and creamy but do not have mediums I am comfortable with yet.

Just received my sample of the new Cobra line. I'm very excited about them as they have colors Holbein does not (like Transparent Red Oxide). They also seem to have a myriad of mediums and varnishes as well! You are lucky to get the new line so quickly. They apparently will not be available here in the US til summer. Please post back with your review. I'm anxious to hear if you like them and the mediums as well.

Happy painting, Bliss

05-16-2010, 10:15 AM
Did you get your Cobra samples by signing up on the Talens website? I signed up there; I really don't expect to get a set, since I'm in the US, but maybe there's hope...?

05-16-2010, 12:03 PM
Hi Karen.

I did sign up for the sample on the Cobra website:


The sample they send is the same for everyone it seems - a tiny tube of pyrrole red. (BTW, the sample comes from Canson in Mass. so they probably will be their US distributor). It will be enough to play with to get a feel for the paint. I have heard it will available in the US this summer - but some buzz has it in Dick Blick by end of June. One little tube isn't enough for a test but it is a start. I am really interested in the new colors they have, the mediums, whether they are sticky like some W/S oils (my Holbein are wonderful), and most importantly if they are compatible with the paints I have already. They claim to be professional quality like Holbein Duo is.

I have been told that the WN mediums do not work well with Holbein but work fine with Artisan and Grumbacher Max. Holbein did finally come out with some mediums which I am not comfortable with yet and their painting medium is too stinky for me. It's an immediate headache with my allergies. All these paints have a slightly different chemistry to make them water soluble. That makes the difference. Cobra even has a new varnish for W/S oils! Very interesting.

05-16-2010, 04:50 PM
I tried them out this afternoon in a plein air session.
First impression is positive, they are a lot smoother straight from the tube than my Artisan paint and they mix nicer with water. Never tried the Holbeins so I can't compare them with those. I'll try to do a studiopainting this week to give a more complete review.
Cheers, Erik


05-16-2010, 07:01 PM
Wow Erik! Lovely painting! Thanks for sharing it.

05-16-2010, 08:39 PM
brushstrokebliss-Thank you for the encouraging news! Wish I could help on finding a brush that keeps a good chisel edge. I mostly use very soft brushes, mongoose being my favorite.
Erik, that's a great painting!.
I have been using MAX exclusively with MAX medium and/or walnut oil, as I can't stand the odor of Artisan mediums. I have not tried Holbein Duos yet, but they have interesting properties, very un-oil like qualities. The Cobra line sounds very intrigueing. Cobra will be the next hot topic when they come on the market, I'm sure. BTW, I am a big fan of Talens Rembrandt watercolors.