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Thread: $100 brushes

  1. #1
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    $100 brushes

    I was looking through the selection of brushes at my local art store (feeling how soft some of them were- I like to do that) and every time I reach the end of the aisle I always gawk at how much some of the expensive brushes cost. Some of the small oil painting brushes were around 30-40 dollars, while the bigger ones around 100. They had watercolor brushes that cost that much as well.

    It gets me wondering, why are these brushes so expensive? Are they pulled from wild unicorns? Humor aside, I don't possibly see a reason for brushes costing 70-100+ dollars. What's so special about these brushes? Do they do something that "normal" expensive brushes don't? I mean, I like to use sable brushes for painting, but I can't imagine why anyone would spend that much on a paint brush. Is there something I'm missing?

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    I'm betting you're talking about Kolinsky sable brushes.
    And the hair is extremely difficult to get, it costs more per unit of weight than gold does.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolinsky

    And if you use the alternatives for sable brushes like squirl, synthetic, pony,...
    you'll quickly discover the difference for yourself.
    Personally I use one small round sable which cost me 3 euro and the rest a combination of mongoose(flats), round synthetic and round squirl hair(for blending).

    Last edited by Hyskoa; June 1st, 2009 at 02:56 PM.
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    It makes a difference if you're using watercolor.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Hm. I wonder if I could somehow "rent" a brush to see what it's like haha.

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    So it's not that big of a deal if you're using oils?

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    Just get a small 3 euro sable and see for yourself?

    And use the edit function.

    Ps: I love how this board now has an auto updater bot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    It makes a difference if you're using watercolor.
    Or ink.


    Tristan Elwell
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    So it's not that big of a deal if you're using oils?
    using these for oils: I've tried a few different brands of high-end watercolor brushes and I was given some Series 7s for a gift last year (I mostly use small watercolor brushes for my illustration) and honestly, I've found that I prefer the cheap stuff. Mostly I use Loew Cornell Golden Taklon (synthetic) and I find it holds its shape longer and has at least as nice of a spring to it. For my taste anyhow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clux Deluxe View Post
    So it's not that big of a deal if you're using oils?
    It makes less difference. Kolinsky, and to a lesser extent sable, has the property of being able to absorb a tremendous amount of water while retaining resiliency and "snap." This means both that you don't have to recharge your brush as often, and you get very precise control of the tip, even with a large brush. Other natural hairs are more limp, and synthetics don't hold as much liquid or release it in as controlled a manner. For oils this isn't an issue, because the consistency of the paint is different; you're laying it onto the surface rather than flowing it on. The feel of a kolinsky brush with oils is still really nice, but they wear out very quickly due to harder use and cleaning with solvents. I've pretty much stopped paying $10-15 each for brushes that won't last for more than two or three paintings, when I can get synthetics for 1/3 the price that last longer. With watercolor, though, a properly cared for brush will last a lifetime, so spending $50-100 isn't quite so crazy.


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    The thing is, my $12 round watercolor sable brush doesn't seem to be as strong and snappy after just a few hours of painting. Is it natural?

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    I like them for heavily thinned acrylics, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pezzle View Post
    I like them for heavily thinned acrylics, too.
    You have to be SCRUPULOUS about keeping your brushes wet while you work and washing them thoroughly with soap and water afterwords, though, and even then the lifespan of the brush is limited. Acrylics eat brushes like nothing else.


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    I've been told that indian ink corrodes natural hair brushes. Is this true?

    I bought a synthetic brush at the time, and discovered it sucks for watercolor and ink.

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    Waterproof ink, whether shellac or acrylic based, can ruin a brush the same as acrylic paint if you're not careful. The same advice applies: don't let anything dry in the ferrule, and clean with soap and water when you're finished.


    Tristan Elwell
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    India ink creeps up the brush and traps itself at the ferrule. The shellac dries and makes the the base of the brush brittle. With further use the hairs start to snap off ruining the brush with use; the tip loses its snap and the belly holds less ink as it thins out.

    I do take quite good care of my brushes; never dipping them past the belly, rinsing frequently while in use, then cleaning immediately after. I've found that hair conditioner treatments add longevity to my W&N brushes.

    I'm hearing occasionally good things about some of the synthetic blends and I might try some out next time I'm buying.

    ~R

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    You have to be SCRUPULOUS about keeping your brushes wet while you work and washing them thoroughly with soap and water afterwords, though, and even then the lifespan of the brush is limited. Acrylics eat brushes like nothing else.
    Yeah I'm really anal about it, especially with those. They're my fine detail brushes, in all reality. I work on a wet palette and dip n' clean very frequently; haven't experienced any degradation in the quality of the brush or its flex yet.

    But let me tell you, those things hold what I call acrylic "juice" (super thin washes to a 'colored water' sort of extent) and flow the most amazing I've ever seen in a brush. And when you're painting 28mm figures, that kind of control is just awesome - at least at this small size the brushes are less expensive.

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    I think a Utrecht #8 round series 228 Golden Taklon lasts about 4 paintings, but costs about 4 bucks. My understanding is that the ammonia in acrylics is what kills the brush, and the synthetics hold up better and are less expensive.

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