A New Brush!

What’s just exciting as a new mini? – A new brush! I received a new Winsor & Newton Series 7 No. 1 Kolinsky Sable brush today. It was time to replace my old one, which I’ve been using almost daily for three years. The old one can still be used, it just isn’t as good for painting small details. Here’s a picture of the condition of my old one:

Notice that the brush doesn’t hold a point as well as it used to. Even with this, the brush has lasted much much longer than the synthetics I’ve used in the past.

There are differing schools of thought on brushes. One is to buy a really cheap brush for a dollar of less & just throw it away after 4 to 6 weeks of use. Another is to buy a mid-quality brush & replace it after 8 to 12 months of use. And the third option & the best in my opinion is to buy a good quality brush which will last several years.

The problem I have with synthetic bristle bushes is that they do not keep a good point for very long – it may be the way I use them, but the points begin to hook & curl after a few weeks of use. Some people by really small sized brushes like 000 or 10/0 for fine details, but the problem with these brushes is that they hold very little paint & often the paint dries in the brush before you can apply it to the miniature. And, even they begin to hook and curl.

The Winsor & Newton brush cost me a little over $17 including tax (the shipping was free since I do the Prime thing).

The above picture is a Reaper Pro Kolinsky Sable No. 2 brush that is 10 years old. As you can see, you can no longer use this brush for fine detail work, but it is great for applying base coats & wet blending. I like using size 1 & 2 brushes.

I start each painting session with a cup of fresh water. And after each painting session, I clean my brushes using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Soap:

Next to a good brush, another essential tool is a wet pallette:

I think I’ll be changing the parchment paper after a few more sessions. I tend to change the paper between batches of miniatures. For example, I’ve been working on a batch of 10 28mm fantasy figures & will finish them tonight or tomorrow. I’ll put in a fresh sheet of paper for my next batch which is 12 10mm SYW French Infantry.

I don’t know how helpful this post is to you. But I know from “painful” experience that good tools make a big difference. Many many years ago a young Floozy was driving a nail with a cheap hammer (I can’t say Wal-Mart, because Wal-Mart wasn’t around back then) and the cheap hammer head bounced off of the nail striking the Floozy’s thumb with such force – she lost the nail & had a black & blue thumb for many months. A carpenter friend laughed & said my problem was that I used a cheap hammer that had no balance. Well, he sold me on buying a Plumb hammer. It cost twice as much as the cheap one, but it is still in the Floozy’s garage & it has been nearly half a century since the Floozy last hit her thumb with a hammer.

I’ll leave you with a cute “alien” – honestly I get a lot of painting inspiration from K-Pop videos.

11 thoughts on “A New Brush!

  1. Interesting post. I totally agree with you. Some of my sable brushes are five years old. I probably only use them once a week, but quality is genuinely cheaper in the long run. Same goes for tools, kitchen utensils, knives ……..

  2. Interesting post. I tend to go cheap and disposable as I’d hate for my scrappy technique to ruin a fancy brush.

    A wet palette could be a worthwhile investment though.



    1. I’ve really been surprised at how much more productive I am using a wet palette. I use less paint & it is easier to mix & blend colors. Also, since the paint stays wet longer, I can paint spots I missed in the first pass. Nothing is as frustrating than mixing the right skin tones from base to highlights only to discover an unpainted ear sticking out from under hair later & then have to match the paint.

  3. Hope the brush works out for you…This reminds me I need to check on their return policy. I just ordered one direct from them, and it’s already frayed worse than your “old brush” there. My last WNS7 lasted about 3 months before going south. So I haven’t had a lot of luck with them lately. Not sure if COVID is impacting the quality control. Certainly hope not, as they have been my goto brush for awhile. I tend not to order them from Amazon, because even though they can be cheaper, it’s also more risk of getting a bad one.

  4. I’ve spent the summer working through my collection of brushes I bought but never used and thinking about buying a new, and expensive brush, instead of whatever was on sale at Hobby Lobby. I think I’ll go ahead and take the plunge, though I may have to have the local art store order the brush from their main store in Denver.

  5. I’ve never resolved which is best – expensive brush or cheap ones. I’ve had ‘special value’ brushes which have been terrific for years and pricier ones which have been very disappointing. That said, I’ve had lots of cheap junk brushes too! Mostly I use them for brutally dry brushing things. I think you’ve convinced me to invest in a new nice brush for Christmas.

    Also, why have I never gone for a wet palette? I saw a tutorial once which I thought looked a great idea but I’ve still never taken the plunge. Maybe your humble post has transformed my painting routine!

  6. I don’t think I’ll ever buy expensive brushes again. I paid a bloody fortune for thee W-N brushes, took five months for them to get to me in Mexico (Covid 19 was blamed) and I think they’re like wet noodles. I also bought a set of Kolinsky sable hair travel brushes from Germany and have the same experience-they don’t hold a point for detail work. I don’t know if I got knockoffs, or what but I’ve used cheap synthetics that worked much better. Live and learn.

  7. This comment is just for your information. I was using Johnson’s baby shampoo to clean my brushes and found out that it is a hi alkaline shampoo and I think the soap would be to. The baby shampoo would fray my brushes so I changed to a neutral ph shampoo and it made all the difference in the brushes curling and made then last longer. An other trick is to put hair conditioner on after the wash. It will save your brushes. This only works with natural hair brushes but I do it to all art brushes.

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