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It doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out on your artistic journey or you’re a seasoned artist who’s painted hundreds of pieces. Using the best watercolor brushes will take your art to the next level. Watercolor painting is delicate and unforgiving in nature, which is why using the best watercolor brushes can help you work within the medium and deliver exceptional, beautiful results.
What Are the Best Brushes for Watercolor?
Especially if you’re just beginning your watercolor journey, selecting a brush can feel overwhelming. There are thousands of brushes to choose from, and understanding them all takes a level of research that could feel intimidating before you even make your first stroke.
This list will allow you quickly answer, “What watercolor brushes do I need?” while explaining which types of watercolor painting each is best used for.
1. Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Series 7 Brush
Price: Starting at $18.99
Where to Buy: Winsor Newton or art suppliers
With a combination of synthetic and natural fibers, the Winsor Series 7 brush is known as one of the best watercolor brushes on the market. Its Kolinsky sable tip is soft and absorbent, which is an exceptional choice for watercolor painting. The brushes range from size 000 to Number 10. Because of its rare sable, these brushes aren’t cheap. But they will last for years, with artists rarely having to replace them.
2. Da Vinci Maestro Series 10 Watercolor Brush
Where to buy: Amazon
Da Vinci Maestro watercolor paint brushes allow you to gain precision and control on all your watercolor paintings. This brush also uses Kolinsky sable fur, which is an excellent choice due to its delicate bristles and ability to absorb watercolor paint. These brushes are known for their sharp points, excellent capacity, flexibility (you’ll be able to bend the bristles easily and have it snap back into its form without damaging the brush), and portability. Perfect for the artist on the go.
3. Silver Brush Limited Black Velvet Series
Where to buy: Amazon or art retailers
It’s hard to beat the quality of a Kolinsky sable hair, but this one definitely gives it a run for its money. With a mix of synthetic black hairs and natural squirrel hair, the Silver Brush Black Velvet set is known for its quality for all water-based paintings, especially watercolor.
The brush allows for complete control when using watercolor paints. Its absorbency is to be admired, and its capacity to hold and control paint is unparalleled.
What About for Beginners?
Where to buy: MozArt Supplies
Rated as one of the best brush sets for beginners, the MozArt Supplies Essential Watercolor set is versatile and affordable. The set offers a lot of variability within its sizes, ranging from larger mop sizes to ultrafine tips for finer details.
The bristles are made from synthetic fabric that has been designed for maximum absorbency and softness, allowing for an even balance of paint-to-water ratio and a durable capacity for paint.
Natural vs Synthetic Brushes
Traditionally, watercolor paint brushes were made with natural hairs, and artists tend to consider these superior to purely synthetic brushes. Their capacity to hold paint and water, while offering an even distribution of paint-to-paper makes it hard to beat. But natural hair brushes are usually costly, due to their animal sources.
But modern-day synthetic brushes, often made with care and detail from nylon or polyester fibers, are a fierce competitor to natural hair brushes. They, too, can hold water and paint nicely and offer an even distribution of paint-to-paper.
What Brushes Should You Have for Watercolor?
There are different types of watercolor brushes to consider for different techniques. Generally, there are round tips and flat tips, and each has its own specific advantage.
Small round brushes, particularly ones made of sable hair, create finer details in watercolor work. Larger round brushes are known for the wash technique and are also called mop brushes.
Flat brushes allow artists to use produce clean edges in their watercolors. The brushes range from straight edges to more angular edges. It is all based on the style and preference of the artists.
Whether you’re using a wash technique or a detailed technique, the round or flat brush can assist you in achieving certain strokes. Watercolor paint is about trial and error, and in time you’ll figure out your style and which watercolor brush is best for you.
Got Your Brushes? Now, It’s Time to Paint!
Art Essentials: Learn Watercolor Painting Basics