New brushes for a new yearPosted: January 1, 2023
I think I started using a Rosemary & Co. travel brush for the first time in 2016. I bought an R3 pointed round Kolinsky sable, which is equivalent to a #10 size at the Chicago Urban Sketchers symposium. After three years, the brush lost its point, and I replaced it with the same one. It’s the best all-around travel brush I’ve ever used, and if I could only carry one brush it would be this one. It holds tons of water and also makes very fine lines because of the long tapered point on it. Despite my abuse of the brush (not always cleaning it properly after use, digging into the small paint wells of my travel palette with it) it is has lasted for years. It’s the one at the bottom of the photo below. As you can see, the fine point is starting to go on this brush as well. I can’t tell you what I paid for the brush because it’s now discontinued. I know it wasn’t cheap because it’s pure Kolinsky (maybe around $50 or $60), but it’s a quality brush and it lasts through years of my abuse.
As you can imagine, I was really sad to see that they don’t make the brush any more. I find that the R3 size is just perfect for all my urban sketching needs, except for when I need a rigger brush, and for that I use their R5 rigger, which happily they still sell.
I ordered three new brushes for 2023, and I will be trying these out for the next few weeks. The brushes I ordered are:
Top: R9 Squirrel Hair Size 9 ($24.93 CDN)
Middle: The new R3 Pocket Red Dot Collection Large Mop Synthetic Fibre ($50.27 CDN)
Bottom: R2 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Sable Size 8 ($39.74 CDN)
Since it’s raining and grey outside, I did a quick sketch in studio just to do a preliminary comparison. My favourite is still the R2 pure Kolinsky sable because it has a great point, holds lots of wash and has tons of spring. I used it for a lot of the details in this sketch. The spring in the brush is what gives it the ability to make the finer marks like the branches in the windows. It does not split when you drag it across the page and you don’t need to twirl it to get that good point. Even though it’s a little smaller than what it’s replacing, it’s still a winner for me.
The new R3 brush is from the Rosemary Red Dot Collection of synthetic fibre brushes, and this is what they recommend to replace the old sable R3. It’s a beautiful brush as well, holds a lot of wash and also has a great point, but it’s not as accurate for the details. It was what I used to do the big grey wash on the stone wall.
I realize that Rosemary doesn’t ship sable brushes to the US, so the third brush I tried, the R9 squirrel hair brush would be a great replacement for the R2. It’s a little floppier than sable but still has a good point, a wide belly, and holds a lot of wash. It was what I used to get all the snow texture at the bottom of the sketch. If you’ve never used a squirrel mop brush, here is what Rosemary says about squirrel hair: Pure Squirrel hair points as well as Kolinsky and Red sable, but has very little ‘snap’ because the hair isn’t very resilient. We use a mix of Canadian and Russian Squirrel hair.
As always, these are just my opinions based on doing lots of experimentation in my urban sketches over the past ten years. This is what works for me, and if it’s helpful info for you too, that makes me happy. Happy New Year and much creativity for 2023!!