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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.