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Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's all relative...brush sizes, that is!

People often ask me about what size brushes to get for a class...and I have to admit it's wildly relative, if you're talking round brushes!  I just suggest getting the biggest you can comfortably work with, for the large size...you can move a lot more paint without having to reload, and it will help avoid niggly work and hard edges where you don't want them.

Manmade brushes are very much improved...I haven't had a sable in YEARS.  The best of them hold lots of water and a good point...and no worries about breaking the bank or losing your brush!

This shows the largest waterbrush, on the right...and as you can see, it's not very large.  That's a #6 next to it.

But look...here are a couple of #6 brushes!  One's Loew-Cornell stain brush an the one below is a Princeton.  Hmmmm...

And here are two #8 brushes...with a #6, all of the SAME BRAND...
 I really like Loew-Cornell brushes, by the way...their Ultra type is wonderful!

And here's a Grumbacher #12 with a Loew-Cornell #8.  Doesn't appear to be a lot of logic here, does there...

Happily, most flat brushes are sold by width.  You can get a 1/2", a 3/4", a 1" or larger and you know pretty much what size it's going to be...it may be longer or shorter, it may have a better edge, but at least you know it's probably going to be a 3/4" if it says so!


  1. Very helpful post...thanks, Kate ~

  2. Thank you Kate...I had no idea!! I always assumed they were all the standardized!! Amazing!

  3. I wish they sold flat brushes by width here (Germany) but I have yet to see anything besides size 2/4/6/8 etc. here. *pout*

  4. Glad it was helpful...the first time I noticed that I was astounded! And Mercy, I'm surprised, thanks for the heads up! I assumed you got the same brands there that we do...or maybe they have a different protocol for you. Are the flats standard within their range?

    1. I don't know if they are standard, since I've only really just started doing watercolor. (I was signed up for your free course, btw, but haven't done much with it yet.) I haven't seen Loew-Cornell or Grumbacher here. Jax, store-brand, and Da Vinci are what I see most. Oh, I JUST found one type of brush that's by measurement on the website of my pet art supplier, it's W&N rotmarder (red sable?), way out of my price range.

      What the print catalog of this art supply place (700+ pages!) does do that's nice is print true-to-size photographs of all the brush heads, round and flat. Not for the sets, but for the individual brushes.

  5. I'm glad you shared this...it certainly makes no sense, the brush sizes.

  6. Thanks for the great article Kate!

    For synthetics I quite like the Black Gold Dynasty brushes sold by Daniel Smith. They have lots of spring to them and aren't spendy. My "magic" brush, though, has always been a Robert Simmons white sable #14. Don't know why, it just never gets a wash wrong for me.

    I'll have to try the Loew-Cornell brushes though. Next time I'm at the art store I'll pick up a few to experiment with. :-)

  7. Oh yes, I like the Black Gold, too, though I only have the travel brushes.

    And glad you all enjoyed the post!

  8. I too found this out the hard way. I bought a Princeton #12 round brush in Chicago only to return home to find it was identical in size to my existing Winsor-Newton Sceptre Gold #10 round! Standards would be nice... :(

    1. Yes, Princeton seems to run a bit small...I like them, but if you need a 12...

  9. http://www.dickblick.com/info/brushpdf/brushsizing.pdf

    Here's an interesting chart of Dick Blick's brushes. As they say here, these are THEIR sizes and not standardized. The chart is interesting, though.


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