In this blog post, we talk a little about da Vinci watercolour brushes and the differences between some of the various types.
The da Vinci brush company has been producing hand-made brushes for three generations and boasts the largest selection of artist’s brushes in the world. With their headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany they pride themselves on creating brushes that meet their high standards of quality, endurance and beauty. The new da Vinci factory built in 2006 – deemed more of a “laboratory” because of its calm atmosphere – is the most modern brush factory in the world. It is here that they combine traditional techniques with modern day technology to create brushes to suit the varying needs of contemporary artists – be they masters or amateurs. Their range of artist’s brushes includes both natural and synthetic hair fibres as well as brushes that are comprised of a combination of the two. Da Vinci have invested in a very sophisticated microscope that they use to take extreme closeup images of the fibres. This allows them to check whether the fibres meet their high standards.
Let’s take a look at a pure natural hair brush, a synthetic brush and a brush that is a mixture of the two.
First up we have the da Vinci Harbin-Kolinsky brush which is a natural-bristle brush made from sable hair which comes from Northern China. This brush is excellent for its flexibility, responsiveness and resilience. It is easy to control and holds a point well, making it great to use for detail and sharp lines. Sable brushes are known for absorbing water at a much faster rate and hold water for longer than other types of brushes. The gold-plated brass ferrule is rust-resistant to ensure the longevity of your brush. Watch a short demo clip of the brush.
Next up we have the da Vinci Petit Gris Mix which is a mixture of natural squirrel hair and synthetic imitation squirrel fibres. This brush is very soft and loose, making it perfect for painting washes and for mop techniques. With the Petit Gris Mix you have less control than with the Harbin Kolinsky sable but its water-holding capabilities are high – although it won’t hold the water for as long. Watch a short demo clip of the brush.
Lastly we have the da Vinci Casaneo synthetic brush. While there is absolutely no synthetic fibre that can truly mimic natural hair (and sable hair in particular) the closest that da Vinci have managed to find is used in the Casaneo brush. The fibre used in this brush is the first of its kind, being manufactured so as to be wavy rather than a straight tapering fibre. This allows the brush to hold more colour and water, thus responding more like a natural bristle than synthetic. It is soft and flexible yet holds a point well – similar to the sable. This brush is 100% vegan although the fibres look natural – they are dyed to give a more unified look. Watch the short video demo of the Casaneo.
Tips for restoring brushes:
For natural hair brushes: A mild sugar water solution can be used to repair natural bristle brushes (no hot water is to be used on natural bristles as this can destroy the fibre quality.
For synthetic fibre brushes: hot water can be used to mold the bristles of the brush into shape – however if the brush doesn’t fall into place after using hot water then the fibres are most likely permanently damaged.