How My Watercolor Paintings Emerge Through The Use Of Different Brushes

"I don't know until I do it" is the way to look at art without making it mechanical. If you don't know and you get surprised, then the viewer will be surprised.

In this video, I talk about the different watercolor brushes I use. Plus, I work on a painting showing some of my watercolor techniques.

I have several brushes that I use that help me create a variety of effects and marks in my watercolor paintings. In my approach to watercolor painting, it is essential to understand which type of tools make the desired result. But at the same time, I do like to paint with an element of surprise. By this, I mean that I allow for spontaneity as I work and, ultimately, the painting ‘paints’ itself.

Watercolor brushes in my studio, resting on my paints palette
Watercolor brushes on resting on my paints palette.

One of the oldest brushes I have is one made with pony hair. I’ve been using this brush for 60 years! I have three of these brushes, each different size. At the time, these brushes were made in West Germany. The ferrule (the metal that connects the brush hairs to the handle) is brass and was hammered and welded into place. In over 60 years of painting, I don’t think I’ve ever lost a single hair on this brush. It is an excellent brush for making washes and for wet-into-wet watercolor techniques.

pony hair paint brush - Dick Crispo
A watercolor brush made with pony hair.

I have a Japanese haké brush made with goat hair. It’s great for holding lots of water and making washes. I have a similar brush to this that is Chinese-made but with pony hair instead. Both are very good for making watercolor washes. I find I have more control with the Japanese haké brush.

I like to use watercolor brushes that are a blend of natural hairs and synthetic bristles. A paintbrush I use is from Daniel Smith, which blends both types of brush materials. The synthetic is essentially plastic. The natural hair is sable from the tail of the Siberian Sable.

Japanese hake brush
Japanese haké brush
Daniel Smith natural and synthetic blend paint brush
Daniel Smith natural and synthetic paint brush

One of the finest (if not the best) sable brushes is the Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes. These brushes were made for Queen Victoria at her request in 1866. These brushes are world-renowned for their quality due to their performance and the process in which they are manufactured. The Series 7 brushes are exquisite, exacting brushes that are world-renowned by artists.

Winsor & Newton Series 7 #4 brush
Winsor & Newton Series 7 - brush size #3

House paintbrushes make for interesting brush strokes. A lot of these brushes are throwaways. But I get something out of them that I don’t find with other brushes. While the throwaway brushes use cheap bristles, they are still bristles and make unique brush strokes all their own. With these brushes, I’m not looking for accuracy when I paint. I’m looking for texture.

House painting brush

Over the years, I’ve used several types of brushes for painting. Each paintbrush has its use and application. But at the same time, it’s essential to be open to spontaneity while working, regardless of the paintbrushes I am using. As I like to say, “I don’t know until I do it” is the way to look at art without making it mechanical. If you don’t know and you get surprised, then the viewer will be surprised. cropped-dick-crispo-favicon_.png

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