Wednesday Watercolors: Fun with Brushes

watercolor flower bouquet, still life,

I love a Good watercolor brush! It dances along and is in complete harmony with your arm, shoulder and mind. Perfect relaxing unity. Thats how its meant to be!

Rekab 320s watercolour beginners brush
Rekab 320S watercolour brush

I’ll share a few of my top brushes and explain  why and how they work for me.   We all will have our own favorites, of course that relax us and that we’re personally most comfortable with.


Watercolor  Brushes  Fun for Beginners

My preferred favorite fun watercolor brush is the Rekab 320S #2  squirrel hair brush.

Shown above, you see the fine tight point, even while dry. Once dampened with paint, it will come to an exquisitely, fine tip.  Eyelashes, jewelry, chainlinks, trees, flowers, etc.  are no problem with this brush. And,  you get this one brush, thats all you really need to buy. Just one. It does pretty much everything you need a brush to do in watercolors.

I love its free loose qualities once it is fully loaded, it seems to dance across the paper. Squirrel hair is different.  Synthetics, Nylon, sable, Kolinsky, goat hair, sabeline, etc.  none have the same fun, vivacious freedom of movement that the Rekab  320s brush has.

Stiffer brushes will have a Tightness, a rigidity,  that sadly ….  transfers over into the painting.


Watercolour brushes, Hake, Rekab, rigger,
Studio Watercolour Brushes

In my studio,  I’ve collected an assortment of brushes, this is merely a corner of my watercolor brush selection.   In here, are my mainstays.  Rekab, Isabey, Hake, Chinese brushes,  Niji waterbrush pens, riggers and my clear handled Kolinsky sable brushes.


fun brushes, Hake, chinese brush
Hakes, Chinese brush

Wabi Sabi

For covering large areas with wet sloppy paint or water washes,  I love the free flowing quality of the soft,  big flat Hake.  Not very good for detail, but super for big gestural strokes.

The smaller brush in front, is a little Chinese brush I use occasionally for accents and highlights.  But,  using the brush with a light grip and allowing for some randomness to wander in to create that bit of wabi sabi look to my watercolor paintings.


Niji waterbrush pen, fun travel watercolor brush,
nijiwaterbrush pen





Out and about travelling or painting outdoors while hiking,  taking along one or two Niji watercolor brushpens that are plastic are perfect.

The top unscrews and water is poured into the container, fasten the top back on.

Squeeze and paint.

Simple and so fun!



fun watercolor brushes,
Flat brush, Bunnings


Economy Brush

A fairly new find and at less than $2  well worth mentioning here.  This small flat brush from the local hardware store has been quite useful.

Its flat shape helps to create nice even edges for rooflines, building walls, and things of that nature.


fun watercolor Isabey 6234 brush,
Isabey 6234 brush


Another Fun  Secret Squirrel Brush

The Isabey 6234  featured above has been through the wars over the last 25 years, but still has quite a nice point to it. Again,  it is a Squirrel hair brush.

No,  its not my ‘favored’ brush as its not as delicately sensitive as the Rekab… it is a bit bulkier,  slightly ‘chunky’ to use from my point of view.  I will use this brush and do, I just know for me the Rekab is like a Mazerati compared to a van.




The Rigger

The other brush I find fascinating entertaining to use is the rigger. If you look back up at the Brushes in my Studio,  in the cup there’s a very long, skinny black brush.  Its behind the clear handled Kolinsky sable.

The thin tall, black brush with long hairs  is my rigger. It actually was a gift from two lovely students from Kitsap art group in Washington when I taught there.


With a rigger,   they are fairly long handled and you hold them far back to the end of the brush. Not near the brush hairs.

Riggers are perfect for creating random gorgeous tree branches,   sketchy craggy lines in an escarpment or mountainside,  anything that is loose, organic and a bit chaotic in placement  the rigger is great fun.  Its not the ideal tool for tight drawings or illustrative works.





A good watercolor brush is kind of like zen, meditative and relaxing in its application. With a joyous freedom of movement that is fun and brings harmony.

I think that beginners especially,  should have all the advantages available to them to encourage them in their creativity.


Solid grounding in Art Basics and good tools are key.

Good brushes are fun brushes!


*Upon  research today,   I have discovered Rekab brushes are quite illusive in the USA.

 Armadillo Art and Craft Distributors based out of New Jersey carries the Rekab 320s brushes  #2 size is $28.41   They’re wholesalers, but its possible that upon request you could order the Rekab. Its worth a try.

And  The Art Scene in Sydney,  does as well  the #2 is  $35.60 Australian dollars.  I have had extensive association with this store since 1991 and have ordered from them without any issues.

watercolor flower bouquet, still life,
Bouquet in Spring


Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

41 thoughts on “Wednesday Watercolors: Fun with Brushes

    1. I am ‘hoping’ that they farm them, like sheep. Shear the sheep once a year, type of thing. There’s a lovely art store in Portland that should have these brushes, otherwise, online stores are good!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I just bought my first squirrel brush – and OH what a difference it is to use. I had only used cheap synthetic until then. I am still not creating masterpieces yet – but oh what fun it is – what character it has – what freedom, yet control it allows! Oh – I love your discussion on brushes and am now going to go look up (and hopefully order! 🙂 ) your beloved Rekab. 🙂 Thanks Debi!!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It does not appear to be on dickblick or Amazon. My two go to resources. 😕. Wondered if you had a recommended source.


    1. in the USA, try Dick Blick, Cheap Joes, Jerry’s Artarama, Pearl … good quality art stores in Seattle and Portland carried them but, just look online. Rekab 320S #2 cost is about $25 – 30 these days I’d est.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Debi, what a fun post, I love looking at your collection of brushes. I still have my oil painting brushes from high school just because how they look. I appreciate your knowledge about the many brushes you use.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The painting that is … I wouldn’t know what to do with a paintbrush unfortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Way of The Brush, is a great Japanese book that focuses alot on meditation – haven’t read all of it, but the parts I have are fan tastic! painting the Enso…. is another mindful, exercise I thought you might like 🙂 perhaps………. cheers, Debi


  4. Thanks Debi… learning to paint using watercolours is one of the things on my bucket list, and linking meditation and painting sounds interesting. Cheers, Majella

    Liked by 1 person

  5. this is such a great post! I have ever worked with squirrel hair brushes before but now I am excited to try. Definitely putting those on my wish list! 🙂 You have an amazing collection of brushes by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How wonderful of you to share what you know regarding brushes. How big your heart truly is! I still have yet to do my pastals so with that being said I think I shall. Keep on shining my friend! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. good brushes are really expensive here, specially the ones with squirrel fur. But I have a squirrel in my garden, we call it Barney, maybe he gives me some fur, hehe. Wonderful flowers, Debi. You should write a book about painting with water colors. You will be a millionaire soon. Cheers Mitza

    Liked by 2 people

    1. the rekab is about $28 – 35 for a #2 which is moderately high, but it lasts… forever. too bad I can’t make brushes from cat fur. Then, I would be rich!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a treat to see your great collection of brushes Debi. Like you I have accumulated so many of them but the amazing thing is I only use one or two of them. The others look resentfully on 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such good info and I love your floral painting on the bottom. I need to re-assess my collection of brushes. I want brushes that stays loose and allows my creative juices to flow through the arm….maybe your suggestions will eventually make it to my art room 🙂


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