Riggers, daggers and stripers: six calligraphic brushesPosted: December 20, 2017
In yesterday’s post I wrote about a new brush I was trying out, and promised to write more about it today. When I sat down to sketch the brush I decided to expand the post by comparing all the brushes I use for calligraphic strokes and marks. Turns out I have four more that I use frequently. Of course I had to start by sketching them all, and then painted with each of them to demonstrate the types of strokes you can obtain by using them.
1 & 2: Richeson Squirrel Dagger Stripers
The first two are the short-handled brushes I used for my background trees yesterday. My friend Russell Black had this to say about the origin of the brushes, “the dagger striper was used to pin-stripe lines on the bodywork of cars. Used with thicker “lead” based paint, it wasn’t originally that floppy. Used with thinner mediums, the long squirrel hair can be a bit unpredictable.” So true. And that is what I liked about it when I painted yesterday’s trees. That floppy unpredictability, the randomness of the stroke is what makes it so much fun to use for organic shapes like trees branches. Brush 1 was a bit thicker than Brush 2, and you can see how fine the wispiest lines are in #2. Note: For all the samples below I loaded the brushes with a watery mix of Cerulean Blue, a bit of Burnt Sienna and then added Indigo into the wet areas.
3. Scroggy’s Loose Goose from Cheap Joe’s
This brush is also made from squirrel hair. The marks are quite similar to the brushes above (maybe a bit more delicate), but the brush has a longer handle which makes it easier for some people to use. It also doesn’t hold quite as much paint, but it still has that floppy random quality that I love.
4. Rosemary Brush Co. 1/2″ Sable Blend Series 772 Dagger
This dagger from Rosemary is the one that Liz Steel introduced me to. She uses it for just about everything. I love this brush for painting trees (both branches and foliage) because it creates both a wide stroke and fine lines, so you can drag from the big areas of leaves right into the finer branch lines. It’s a wonderful brush for leaf shapes.
5. Richeson Grey Matters Rigger Series 9834 #3
This synthetic rigger brush is useful for so many things. I love it for painting power lines in an urban landscape, but it’s also great for painting grasses and branches. As you can see, because it’s long and even, the strokes are more uniform. I love to paint with it because as the brush runs out of wash the strokes get finer and finer. Because the head of the brush is very long it holds a lot of wash, allowing you to paint for quite a long time without reaching for more wash on your palette.
6. Richeson Sable/Squirrel Reservoir Liner #6
This magic brush dances across the pages, creating the finest web of tiny lines. Because it has two diameters — one for holding all the paint (hence “reservoir” in its name) and a much finer one for painting with — it is perfect for the thinnest branches, wires, grasses or other details in your sketches. You need to dip into a very wet puddle to get it flowing, but the marks it makes are unique in their delicacy.