Water brushes are extremely convenient but over the years I’ve always been disappointed when I’ve used them. Watercolour sketches painted with a water brush are generally less vibrant and contain less watercolour magic compared to those created with a normal brush. In the past when I’ve used a waterbrush I’ve wished I had taken the time or effort to get my normal dagger brush and water container out and use it instead.
But for the next few weeks, I want to persevere using a waterbrush and work out the best way to use it.
A water brush is a synthetic brush that contains a barrel of water in the handle. By simply slightly squeezing the barrel, water is released into the brush bristles so that you can mix your paint and apply washes without the need for a separate water container. This makes it the perfect tool for an on-location sketching kit!
The amount of water in the brush is controlled by how much you squeeze the barrel and how much you blot the bristles. To clean the brush you simply squeeze and blot until all the paint in the bristles is cleaned out.
It’s the combination of the synthetic bristles (as opposed to natural hair) and the fact that it is harder to control the amount of water in the brush means waterbrushes have a tendency to produce flatter washes.
I know from experience that the best way to use water brushes is to make sure that the washes I mix in my palette are very juicy (a term from my Watercolour course) and so I decided to do some swatches using this technique.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the results of these swatches! There is really no difference between the water brush swatches and the ones done with my sable blend dagger brush (the brush I use most of the time).
So the real question is whether I will be able to get these results in the context of an actual sketch done on location.
These swatches were done with the Large Aquash brush by Pentel… this is my favourite waterbrush!
I haven’t extensively used or tested other brands so if you are a regular water brush user I would love to hear which one you think is the best. Please let me know in the comment section below.
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