View Full Version : Product Reviews (by users)

03-02-2011, 09:16 PM
Hello all, after a bit of a discussion with Doug (Yorky) I have decided to start a thread kind of like the "cool stuff you've discovered and enjoy using (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20408)" thread. But this one is a thread to do some informal and hopefully insightful/helpful product reviews. The products should be ones that are still on the market so that it can be used as a guide of sorts to those looking to acquire a like product. I know that I like to read user reviews to go along with the sales blurbs and product descriptions from the manufacturer whenever possible.

So here goes my first review: My birthday (Jan 12) came along and my mother was unable to find what she had in mind for me at the time, so upon a family trip to Philadelphia's Italian market we also stopped by the Utrecht store. She got for me a porcelain brush holder much like the Winsor&Newton one I gave to her as a gift over 20 years ago. The brush holder by Richeson she got for me is not as pretty as was the W&N one but it is a fine holder none-the-less, but here is the true review.

Utrecht Red Sable brushes #'s 2 and 8.
These natural red sable brushes are not very expensive in the scheme of things $11.99 for the 8, $3.39 for the 2, U.S. dollars. The largest, a size 10 is $23.99 U.S. I also had received an email coupon for 25% off my entire purchase from Utrecht, a good reason to sign up for Utrecht emails and to look for their 25% off Saturday sales which happen about every 3 months. Now, back to the review.

The 2 brushes I picked were gummed to a fine point and also had the plastic tubes on them so I was happy with their appearance and the ferules were tightly crimped, one should be picky with some Utrecht brushes as sometimes the ferules are loose and/or off center making for a less then desirable brush. After I used a mild, vegetable oil soap to loosen the hairs, I was satisfied with the full belly and rich, thirsty looking light to dark red hairs. Both snapped to a fine point, although the #2 is really too small a brush to notice this as much. Both hold more fluid than equal size synthetic brushes I have from several manufacturers. The deep red/maroon lacquer is pleasant looking to me and I like to use darker colored brushes (personal stuff:D).

Once I put some water on these brushes. I found them to accept the pigment quite easily whether a juicy wash or dabbed on a towel roll. They seem to handle quite satisfactorily while making broad strokes or fine lines; I am especially liking the #8's ease of use and paint distribution. The #8 has a nice full belly to accept a good deal of paint and water to splash and splatter with. As with any decent natural hair brush, they clean in rinse water quite easily, just a few swirls and I can move on to the next color. That is definitely an upgrade from most all synthetics I have used.

I have included a couple of pictures and some work I have done using these two brushes. Hope you have enjoyed this post and I invite all who are willing to lend their insights and expertise to this thread. My hope is this will be a much used and informative thread.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Mar-2011/228972-100_2997.JPG The brushes themselves.

The marks I made with them.


And a painting using only these two brushes. Bottom line for me: A nice red sable brush...especially for the price. I would recommend these brushes over most all synthetics, I cannot speak for their longevity but think them to be made at least as well as my W&N artist Kolinskys, if not better. I should be painting with these brushes for much time to come, and they haven't lost a single hair yet!

Thanks for reading and join in the fun please, sincerely, Mark :wave:

03-02-2011, 09:38 PM
That's a beautiful sketch you made with your new Utrecht brushes! Thanks very much for the review. I think it's a great idea.

03-03-2011, 03:27 AM
I changed the title Mark so anyone who wishes to write review can add theirs.


03-03-2011, 08:05 AM
Thanks for the comment Cathy.

No problem Doug, and big thanks Sylvia and Doug for all your hard work in the editorial department .:wave:

One added note about Utrecht red sables...did I mention they have a soft point with fairly nice belly/body spring. It is the kind of spring I find to be pleasant but not inherent to most synthetics, which seem to have a more uniform spring throughout. The full belly of the size 8 stays together nicely and is reactive (to me) while the point is soft and nimble. Hope that description makes sense:D


03-04-2011, 02:17 PM
The so called "Spanish Paintbox" or "V.Piera Paintbox"

Well,it seems that there are more palettes on the market these years than we thought of.
There is an Spanish company called Art Materials S.A.,located in Barcelona Spain who is marketing a metal paintbox of good quality and operating mainly or that I know of out of Barcelona stores only,the most known is Vincens Piera store,known as V.Piera,therefore this box is sometimes called "the V.Piera paintbox".

This particular palette is a heavy metal enameled(spray paint enamel,not baked enamel) in white inside and outside there are three options:white,gray and black.The white one has an ugly logo outside and there are reports of inconsistency in its construction quality,more to the point the paint wells.The one that is most sought after is the black one,this is the one I have and I can write about it.

Its quality is definitely good.Heavy metal(the box weight 600gr).Measurement closed: 10.5 cm x 19 cm x 2.5 cm.Measurements open: 30.5 cm x 19 cm x 1 cm.

The heavy gauge white enameled interior unfold in three parts as a tri-fold wallet,revealing in its interior a shy of 10 cm x 19 cm x 1 cm sixteen paints wells removable tray.These wells arranged in two rows of 8 wells show us what at first,second and third impression looks and are huge paint wells(4.8 cm x 2.3 cm each).

Here some folks will raise their brows and shrug,but these huge wells have their advantage:you can use large brushes,mops and large flat wash brushes without the confined space of smaller wells or pans.Besides,I realize that you don't need to fill them to use them.Use it as you use your regular palette or box,just that the big boys can get inside these wells and suck pigment. If you use watercolor paint that might dry easy a dab of glycerin,just a drop in each well will solve your problem

On both sides of the removable paint wells tray are two rectangular flat mixing areas measuring one 10.9 cm x 18.9 cm and the other 9.9 cm x 18.7 cm.the bigger one is 1.2 cm deep and the smaller is 8 mm deep.This disparity in sizes is the result of the tri-flod design,that one go in top of another(top side) and the bottom is the other side.

The paint wells tray can be lifted and make room for a third mixing area that measures 10 cm x 18.7 cm x 1.4 cm,very convenient if you're working on the studio.For plein air it will be impractical unless you have a tray or other device to place the paint wells tray.

One of the most handy features in my opinion is a thumb metal ring on the outside of the bottom to insert your thumb or middle finger and hold safely and conventionally the paintbox.

Overall the quality of construction and enamel coating is excellent, making it a hard to beat competitively with others boxes,even the ones at high end prices,just my personal opinion.Its weight is forgotten when you handle it correctly with the thumb metal ring or loop.

Resuming quality is not always in the price,some inexpensive tools of the trade can be found at really low prices.

Machine made in China,it shows how the Chinese had improved in quality in all their tools in less than 10 years.My other hobby is bonsai and Chinese tools had improved so much that are making a hard competition against Japanese made bonsai tools.But that is out of topic.



03-06-2011, 10:05 AM
this is a great idea for a thread, hope lots of people join in.

03-06-2011, 10:06 AM
forgot to say, i love your sketch

03-06-2011, 05:10 PM
Thanks for the review of the box Bob, it was a good read, nice pictures of product and informative. I might acquire one sometime in the near future and I like the design of this one, with your comments as a guide this might be the one.

Thanks for viewing and the comments jmb57, I hope others do join in and share their expertise and opinions.

So, anyone out there use Dynasty faux squirrel mops? Utrecht has them on sale and I was thinking of trying a size 18 to see whether I like that style of brush. At 9.99$ U.S. and a decent return policy I might have to make the leap, but if anyone knows anything about them I'd love to hear it.


03-06-2011, 11:02 PM
Here is another product review for ya's :thumbsup:

The Strathmore Visual Journal.

I was not too keen on getting another sketchbook/journal but my fiance' insisted, and so, she picked out for me the 5.5X8 in.,100lb.,(14X20.3cm 163gram) drawing journal. I would probably have gone for the watercolor journal myself, but hey, it was a gift. The journal is sold with a fairly garishly designed cover but that can be removed to reveal a pleasant, shinny brown textured, supportive cover. I like the double ring binding and if you fold the front cover to back it is a decent support as it rest on your knee /pillow as is usually the case when I am in my living room watching TV with my sweetheart (I sketch/paint while she watches dancing with the Idol stars who may or may not have talent !!!)

I discovered that the 100lb. paper is suitable for light washes with WC or pen&ink. my favorite writing pen likes the tooth of this good quality paper. I have enjoyed the way this paper takes the washes of watercolor. I plan to try more adventurous works in it soon. For work in graphite the tooth of the paper is substantial and ideal if you are going to layer, will build up tones nicely and can take some reworking/erasing due to heavy weight. The paper will buckle as is the case with lighter weight papers, but with the hard covers this is not too much of a problem...just close it up and sit a heavy candle on it, or whatever you have handy, the paper relaxes pretty well. As a writing journal it is well priced and the paper is of much better quality then the Rohdia pads that are popular now.

I have cut out a couple trading cards form this journal already for my {artist trading card} project here on Wet Canvas and I don't think they have turned out so badly, not the paper at least, they lay nicely flat!
I think this pad was not more then 5$ so all in all it is a decent journal for the price. Not exactly a Moleskine but a 3rd of the cost with a versatile paper. I would have no problem recommending this journal to a friend...or an enemy for that matter :D all in all a decent pad which would make a nice stocking stuffer ext. Here are a couple pics.

Hope this review helps anyone thinking about acquiring a drawing/mixed-media journal, especially in the sub 10 dollar price range.

03-06-2011, 11:26 PM

I have a Strathmore Journal also, it is a Watercolour 300 gram (140ib) Cold Press. I haven't tired it out as yet, but I like the feel and the textire of the paper used in it. And as you mentioned, it is a very affordable Journal and you can take off the rather Garish Cover Sheet.

I am looking forward to using it, if it is anything like using any of the other 300 gram papers, it shouldn't buckle too much.

I'll let you all know when I give it a go.

Take Care.
Love Carolynn :grouphug: :grouphug: :heart: :) :) :thumbsup: :heart: :grouphug:

03-07-2011, 03:22 AM
A good idea Mark.

I separated your paragraphs with a blank line to make it easier to read.


03-08-2011, 12:52 PM
I want to make an annex to the review of the palette.There are two types of enameling.Paint enamel and baked enamel.
The painted enamel is more prone,if not cared properly,to nicks,paint chipping and scratches.Baked enamel is the opposite,difficult to nick and scratch,but not impossible.
The Spanish palette is painted enamel.


04-01-2011, 04:15 PM
For all of those who have wanted a big squirrel hair brush but never thought you could afford it...here's your chance!!! Come on in and save :D:D

Now that the joking is out of the way I just wanted to share with you what I found on sale at my local Utrecht store. http://www.utrechtart.com/dsp_view_product.cfm?item=33802

I purchased a #12 round series 226 Camel??? squirrel hair brush and have enjoyed the way it sloshes paint around. I have been wanting to try painting with a nice squirrel mop but cannot afford a good quality one right at the moment. I saw this brush and for $4.59, I decided to get one. I am pleasantly surprised at how much more water and paint a squirrel brush holds, I was aware that S mops were used for just that but have never used one myself...until now :)

I am going to purchase at least 1 or 2 more of different size, and at these prices it really doesn't matter to me how long they last, though mine has not lost a single hair yet after messing around a bit, quite roughly I might add.

So there you have it, now I know what to expect, sort of :D and look for in a fine quality squirrel mop in the future.

P.S. Thanks for your help with my last post Doug, I shall try to clean up my messes better in the future :thumbsup:

04-03-2011, 07:29 PM
Moleskine Folio A4 Watercolour journal

I'd never used a Moleskine book before and was surprised at how nice the paper is. Fairly smooth, well sized and easy to work with. This is a larger size than is normally found. I have since bought the smallest one for my travel kit.

After enquiring on Wetcanvas regarding watercolour journals I was thinking about making my own as the main complaint about them was that the paper is disappointing. I'm so glad I tried this one. It looks lovely, feels great and works!

And at the moment they are really well priced on Amazon - with Free delivery too :thumbsup:


04-05-2011, 02:11 AM
The marks I made with them.

They do not point finely

Look at the pen marks.
You want your sable to go that fine

claude j greengrass
04-27-2011, 03:05 PM
I was inspired by Johannes Vloothuis live webinar to expand my investment in time spent on value sketchs and mass mapping and as a result felt I needed a couple of grey felt tips. White paper + a light grey, and dark grey, and black would be enough. Checking the usual suppliers, Jerry's, Daniel Smith, AWS Express, Cheap Joes and Dick Blick, I decided to purchase a set of Blick Studio Art Marker Set of cool grey double-ended felt tips. Y22148-2809 $18.89http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/27-Apr-2011/212970-bick_studio.jpg

Johannes suggested that most artists would have difficulty producing a 10 level value scale and the above photo suggests that even Dick Blick has difficulty with it as well. The 30%-40% pair, the 60%-70%, and the 80%-90% pair are almost identical, or at least appear so on this limited test. YMMV

These are double ended felt tip pens. One end is the fairly standard chisel point which offers three edges as shown in the bottom three lines. The top line is the sketching end/point. Not the finest point you can find. Since these pens are advertises as water resistant, I painted a blue wash over all four lines to see how the ink would hold up. I scrubbed the brush across the black lines several times, so I would appear to be fairly water resistant.


04-27-2011, 06:35 PM
Escoda Tajmir Kolinsky Round Brushes
In a quest to try to find the best affordable Kolinsky brushes(read cheap...compared to other brands)I got the advice from several members of this magnificent forum to buy the series 1212 of Escoda Brushes.
I started collecting little by little my now set of these brushes.They are excellent and a bargain!They point magnificently,hold a load of pigment and have a spring that is superb.The triple clamped(?) golden ferrule ensure a strong bond between the rich burgundy handle and the sable hairs,which are well packed and form a beautiful belly and point.
I can't compare them to other brands since I have owned these,but I'm told by others who had used these and others that the quality is excellent.The only thing pointed is that they run about a size smaller compared to other brands.
I'm so in love with them that I plan on using these rounds only(at least now) for all my paintings.Maybe in the future the need of flats or others will arise,but so far I feel that I can do all my limited painting with this collection of Kolinsky rounds.



06-22-2011, 06:50 PM
After realizing that I won't spend a fortune on these,I decided to buy a set of Jackson's synthetic/sable quill brushes.Six brushes ranging from size 6(compare to 20 round) to 10/0(compare to 6 round).These arrived today.
The craftsmanship is good,so good that I question if they are made by Rosemary Co.
Long natural color varnished handle,plastic ferrule tied with stainless steel wire and the knots are so well tied that there is no need to add a bead of glue to prevent snagging or scratching.The hair is blended uniformly with a considerable amount of sable hair and a nice point,the feeling of the spring is nice,no too stiff neither too soft,just about right.
I tested them so far with water only,will use them in a WIP that I have now,a failed attempt in the past and a challenge for the next few days or day,depend on my time and health.
These carry enough water as to be satisfied,almost as much as a nice sable one.
I'll post later some dabbling or sketches made with paint to give an idea of their performance.
These are on sale now(50% off)so they were an steal at $37.28 delivered to my door in USA.
I recommended them without thinking twice.
Bellow is a picture of the set and a close up of the knots tied in the biggest one.




06-23-2011, 03:20 AM
A bargain Bob!


06-23-2011, 10:26 PM
Yes,Doug,it is.Why don't you get encouraged and get a set?Too many brushes already over all these years?:thumbsup:

Here is a quick simple test,broad and thin stroke on all of them...by the way,yes,confirmed,they hold a bunch of pigment,I will venture to say that almost as much as my Escoda Kolinsky ones! I couldn't even make real thin lines cause I was in a hurry and overloaded them with pigment without knowing first of their capabilities of hold much or not.



06-24-2011, 04:26 AM
This brush cleaner has been on the market some 25 years, at least, and is used mainly by oil artists.
I seperate the coiled spring and legs from the can and use it to dry brushes. I never stand a brush hair up when wet as moisture can cause damage.



It can take the largest of handles (ie the Paul Weaver #30 round from Rosemary) and the legs are placed under something heavy, in this case a stack of palettes. It is the best method I have come across to dry brushes and keep moisture out of the ferules.
Bob originally came up with this one and whilst I need more palettes to add to the ones I have (2 Holbein's, 4 heavy W&N 1970 pan palettes, 2 light alumunium palettes, A Pike and numerous plastic ones) like I need a hole in the head, the Spanish Palette, with it's huge wells, looked to me to be ideal. After a few language problems I did manage to get my message over and the cost was 13 Euros but postage to Australia was 85 Euros (120 USD). I should have quit there and then but it looked such a lovely item and I kept returning to the pic on my desktop. Further communication ascertained that postage for one was 85 Euro but postage for three was 95 Euro - a bargain! In the end I did purchase three and they came through super fast - at that price one would expect them to. What are they like? The Craig Young's would be better as they are baked enamel but as the wells are removable from the box there are lots of possibilities for swapping and changing palettes only using the one box. When it starts to show signs of usage - break open another box. I may even took at having the boxes re done in baked enamel. The thumb ring inder the base (like my W&N's) is great for lefties and beats the Holbein cut out thumb hole. Postage was expensive but I have no regrets in purchasing the Spanish Palette(s).
After this little exercise the Craig Young's don't seem so expensive - I'm thinking about it.


06-24-2011, 05:10 AM
Great idea John.


06-24-2011, 05:40 AM
This isn't exactly a product made for art purposes,just an improvisation quite simple and inexpensive to make that I want to share after seeing John use of the brush washer as brush dryer.
For this brush dryer all you need is a few wooden clothespins,a piece of sturdy string and two large paper gatorclips.I reinforced the inside of the clips gluing pieces of the rubber bands that comes tying together the broccoli stalks.This way the clips won't slip and the string is always tight.
This homemade brush drying device can hold any size brush and is always attached underneath the ledge of my drafting table,ready to use.



06-24-2011, 08:40 AM
Great idea Bob - all readers of this thread can now dry their brushes hair down and know that they are extending the life of their brushes handle, ferule and hair.

06-24-2011, 09:09 AM
Great idea Bob - all readers of this thread can now dry their brushes hair down and know that they are extending the life of their brushes handle, ferule and hair.
Yes John,we don't want to ruin our brushes,some of them are pretty costly and some even have a sentimental value.:D


06-24-2011, 11:23 AM
Bob, I .ike both your collections of brushes. Unfortunately the catch with sales over thereis that they have to be ordered and delivered within the States in order to get the discounts.

I particularly love using the Squrell 1Quills you have there or at leSt that is what they resemble, and I know what you mean about cost, I got one about 6 or more years ago and that single one cost me AUS $ 70.00.

Take Care.
Love Carolynn :grouphug: :grouphug: :heart: :heart: :clap: :thumbsup: :wave: :) :grouphug:

06-24-2011, 11:30 AM
Bob, I .ike both your collections of brushes. Unfortunately the catch with sales over thereis that they have to be ordered and delivered within the States in order to get the discounts.

I particularly love using the Squrell 1Quills you have there or at leSt that is what they resemble, and I know what you mean about cost, I got one about 6 or more years ago and that single one cost me AUS $ 70.00.

Take Care.
Love Carolynn :grouphug: :grouphug: :heart: :heart: :clap: :thumbsup: :wave: :) :grouphug:
Carolyn,not in the case of Jackson's.This company is in the UK,so you get beside the 50% off,a previous 20%off(VAT or European Tax that don't apply to US or Australia in your case.):wink2:


06-25-2011, 12:58 PM
Hello Robert:wave: .

Quite right. Purchasers outside the EU don't pay VAT so the current rate of 20% is deducted. That's $20 off $100! In addition carriage charges are at cost and are not inflated, certainly from Ken Bromley www.artsupplies.co.uk and Jacksons www.jacksonsart.co.uk This means prices in many cases might be better than those that I -a UK citizen can buy! Actually we're in such a mess that we need the exports:D . I'd also mention Rosemary and Co www.rosemaryandco.co.uk. The 20% is also deductible on already competitive prices and she charges no more than 5 - 10 carriage outside the UK (1).


06-25-2011, 01:06 PM
Hello Robert:wave: .

Quite right. Purchasers outside the EU don't pay VAT so the current rate of 20% is deducted. That's $20 off $100! In addition carriage charges are at cost and are not inflated, certainly from Ken Bromley www.artsupplies.co.uk (http://www.artsupplies.co.uk) and Jacksons www.jacksonsart.co.uk (http://www.jacksonsart.co.uk) This means prices in many cases might be better than those that I -a UK citizen can buy! Actually we're in such a mess that we need the exports:D . I'd also mention Rosemary and Co www.rosemaryandco.co.uk (http://www.rosemaryandco.co.uk). The 20% is also deductible on already competitive prices and she charges no more than 5 - 10 carriage outside the UK (1).

Hi Peter:wave:

Quite right you're.I suspect that these brushes are made by Rosemary and Co.,I was told they were made in the UK,so since they're quite good,I have no other manufacturer in mind.And as happened with the squirrel mops,there is no hair shredding from the beginning!


06-26-2011, 01:49 PM
It could be Robert as Rosemary will quote for `own label' brushes in relatively small numbers. There is another company Stratford & York who are reputedly the largest brush maker in Europe at 15 million a year:eek: ! They do have a first class range under their own name, although I haven't as yet tried them except for the Jet series, but must make a large number under brand names to reach that quantity. Although they are manufactured in the Newcastle area, from where I originally came, they aren't widely available in the UK. I've never seen them in an art shop for example. I read somewhere that they made the Tom Lynch signature brushes.


06-27-2011, 07:00 AM
I have a few of the larger Stratford & York and they are very good

03-09-2012, 10:42 PM
I use Chinese brushes. They're a bargain compared to their western counterparts since they both are comparable in quality. You could get them $1-$30 here in Taiwan and China. :)

03-29-2012, 08:52 PM
Rosemary & Co. Series 404 Sable Blend Round brushes and Series 771 Sable Blend Rigger brushes
Being short in budget and with desire to start watercolor painting again I purchased some brushes from Rosemary,being in the group the above mentioned series which I have used already.
Both series are a mix of sable and synthetic hair with one crimp nickel plated ferrule and clear lacquered wood handles.I chosen the regular or short handle,but for little money you can have them with longer handles.
Since I have used pure Kolinsky brushes before,my expectations were low to be honest,but to my surprise and delight both series perform quite good,retaining a decent load of pigment and maintaining a fine point while in use.They are a bit stiffer than Kolinsky and is understandable,they have synthetic hair.Another plus is that,even if you load them with too much pigment-water mixture and they will tend to release quite a bit of it on the first stroke,if you dab them in towel paper before applying it to the painting,then there is no runs and you have enough pigment to use for the size of the brush.I have purchased on series 4040 sizes 4,6,8,10,12 and 14.I tested the sizes 4 and 6 so far.On the series 771 I have a size 2 and a 4,used the 2.
Overall,these are decently priced brushes and in my opinion,the best substitute for an all sable brush.Rosemary and Co. is an small business based in London,England and I have to say that their service is fast and cheap shipping.I waited one week and 2 days after placing the order to receive them and paid around 7.00 dollars for shipping.Again,in my opinion,these are a bargain and great deal.I'm delightedly using them.


03-30-2012, 11:54 AM
Thanks for the review Bob.

I am saving to buy some Rosemary's. I use Escoda rounds, so I am hoping to buy some squares, brights, and maybe some mops.

04-01-2012, 09:48 AM
This is a great informing thread. Thanks for the info!