It’s been a while since I shared an update on the brushes that I’m using on a daily basis… so today’s the day for that! 🙂
As most of you know, I use my 1/2 inch dagger brush 99% of the time (Rosemary Brushes Series 772 Sable Blend) and that hasn’t changed! See this article for the reasons why I love this brush so much.
However, I also use some smaller brushes for details.
Last year while doing the 30×30 direct watercolour challenge I started experimenting with three different brushes – a 1/8 one stroke flat brush (Rosemary Brushes Series 55), a rigger (Rosemary Brushes R5) and an extended point brush (Rosemary Brushes Series 336 No. 8). Of these, my favourite turned out to be the one stroke so I added it to the kit that I carry around in my bag last July (ie. inside my toothbrush holder). I don’t use it much but it’s nice to have it handy – it’s great when I want small square-edged shapes.
Recently (while sketching teacups daily during our current lockdown) I’ve started using the smaller versions of the 772 – the 3/8 and 1/4 inch daggers – for the teacup patterns.
I know a lot of people prefer using the smaller daggers for A5 size sketchbooks but I normally stick with the 1/2 inch as it holds more water (and therefore creates more watercolour magic). It’s also a common piece of watercolour advice to use the largest sized brush as much as you can and so even if I use a smaller book, I still stick with the 1/2 inch for my main brush. I can still get a fine edge with my well-used 1/2 inch dagger but there are times when I want less body in my brush so it’s easier to control the water for the finer details.
I have such a strong attachment to using a dagger, that when I started using the smaller brushes listed above last year, I had to learn how to create a state of flow while painting with them. I don’t need this when I move to a smaller dagger as it feels the same as my 1/2 inch. I also get the same range of marks with the smaller brush. It’s such a no-brainer that I’m not sure why I haven’t thought of it before!
I love testing other brushes, but I always seem to come back to the dagger. It just suits the way I make marks (and BTW I use the fude pen in the same way) and it’s so versatile.
Enough of my preferences… I’d love to hear from you!
What’s your go-to brush these days, and what do you use for finer details?
(If you are reading this via email, please click on the article title link below and add a comment on my blog. Thanks!)
You mentioned before how you pick up paint with the side of the dagger to preserve the point…. but how often do you need to replace your 1/2″ dagger? Ixm debating a new one, and dinne know if I’m being hard on it or if they just need replacing after a period of time. Also just got the 1/4″ but like the larger one better too.
Hi Barbara, With a dagger the logical way to pick up paint is on the side so the brush shape inherently promotes good usage (unlike a round where it’s easy to drill down into your pans ruining the point). The razor edge of a new brush softens over time (allow it’s easy to get back by re-forming it when damp). I use my brushes for a year or so and treat myself to a new brush from time to time.
Glad you also like the larger one 🙂
That’s very helpful, thanks!
I’ve gotten hooked on the Rosemary R13. It’s plumb enough to hold a lot of water, but has a wonderful point for small details.
Hi Jane – ah yes, I love the R13!
I admire your deftness with the dagger, haven’t yet acquired that. I just love Escoda brushes and mostly use a mop, a large and a small round brush. Occasionally a flat brush. Rosemary’s are in the travel kit though
Hey Partick! Hope you are going well. Used to use Ecodas a lot – great brushes!
Rosemary’s squirrel mop R9 (the larger one) for my sketchbook. It can hold a huge amount of water and the tip is so fine that it can be used for details. And a da Vinci maestro size 18 for the same reasons if I paint on watercolour paper (not too tiny format)
Thanks for sharing Ulla – I intend to use a squirrel mop more… I find that I use it too wet typically so only really use it for skies and water washes.
I’ve got a few new favourites including a couple of daggers – the Rosemary R12 travel brush and the Escoda Perla 1/4 inch dagger. My most used brushes though have been the Escoda Perla size 2 and the Escoda Perla size 12 flat brush. (I mostly paint quite small – A5 sketchbooks/paper or A6 postcards).
Thanks for sharing Talweez – I haven’t tried an Escoda dagger!
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