Monday, February 2, 2009

Brushes 1

Here are the brushes I use. They are from left to right.

#6 or #8 flat

#12 flat

#4 flat

#1 flat

Sable or sabeline rigger

I use only these brushes. Some painters change brushes for every color and have dozens of brushes going at once. I hold a paper towel in my left hand and clean the brushes between notes. That means paint on my hands and then on my clothes. The guys you see painting in suits had lots of brushes going and cleaned them at the end of the day, or clipped the rag they used, down to their box or taboret. For me the rag is a tool as much as the brush.
I buy brushes from a number of different suppliers. I have had trouble with Chinese manufacturers and now avoid their products. Often the ferule, the metal part, comes loose and makes the brush useless. When that happens I pull the brush handle out and put a few drops of two part epoxy in the ferrule, put the brush back together and then tape it to an upright surface with the ferrule aligned straight up and let it dry for a day. I recently bought a big shipment of brushes from a mail order supplier that all had loose ferrules for about a tenth of their retail price.. I took them all apart and re glued the whole lot.
I have had good luck with Robert Simmonds brushes. But I recently bought some brushes from Kalish and I think they will be my new supplier. They are a ma and pa outlet down in New Jersey, they are pleasant to deal with and they have their brushes made in Ireland. Their brushes are of excellent quality and fairly priced. They have particularly good sables , I have placed a link to their site on my blog.
I use only flats. I paint "square touch" which means I have a visible brush stroke that is square in appearance. I was taught mostly with rounds. That's what the old masters used. There are some nice things about a round brush, particularly if you don't want your brush stroke to show much. Brights are a short sort of a flat that tend to be favored by portrait painters, but I like a brush that holds more paint. A filbert is what a flat becomes after too much wear. That is it has rounded shoulders at the tip of the bristles.
The one exception to my only flats rule is my rigger. A rigger is a long thin sable brush used to paint fine lines, thin tree branches and signatures. This brush needs to be in top condition to work right. I have had problems with the synthetics wearing or the tips of the bristles exploding.
I sometimes use a sable flat to soften edges in the studio. I like those to be about the size of my little fingernail.
I believe I shall return to the subject of brushes again tomorrow so be sure to tune in again! don't miss a single exciting, action packed moment!


Mary Bullock said...

Thanks for this post - I'm always wondering about which brushes different artists use to achieve their results. I like flats too, but also use large rounds to scrumble in some early layers.
Have you ever heard of/or tried an eggbert? It is an extra long flat. The only place I can find them for sale in the Dick Blick catalog.
I like your idea of using just a few brushes - it seems to me that using a multitude of brushes is just too much work when it comes time to clean them.
Love your blog!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks Mary. I have friends who like working with eggberts but I have never used them much. They are an elongated sort of filbert. There are also Gainsborough brushes with yard long handles, estompes that are rounds with a flat tip for hammering paint like Maxfield Parish used, and Fitches and fans as well.The marbelizers and grainers come in a bewildering variety. I was in a shop in Amsterdam once that had a big display of dozens of bizarre brushes that were once available but are now no longer manufactured.
I am glad you are enjoying this blog, I feeel like I am just getting started, we will be through the technical and materials posts soon, mostly anyway.........Stape