Monday, April 2, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

3/14/12, Akashiya watercolors, no-name brush
As a mixed-media artist, I like to keep a large supply of the cheapest, crappiest brushes I can find so that when I abuse them with my unrefined painting and collage techniques, I can trash them without remorse. Color junkie that I am, when I began sketching, I also began using watercolors almost immediately. Every book I read on watercolor painting recommended buying the best brushes one could afford because they would make a difference in the results. Always the skeptic, I was convinced that the holder of the brush makes a much bigger difference in the results than the price of the brush. But I also love an excuse to go art-supply shopping, so I went out and got my first sable brush.

3/14/12, Akashiya watercolors, WN sable brush

On close examination, I remained skeptical. This tiny but expensive brush looked disturbingly similar to all my tiny but cheap and trashy brushes. I decided to put them to the test. Using the same Akashiya watercolors, I sketched both of these on the same day, one right after the other. The hand shown above was made with one of my crappy brushes. The other was made with the sable. Even with my not-yet-educated painting hand, I could tell that the sable brush has a nice spring to it, while the cheap brush is better equipped for spreading glue. The sable also paints a range of thick and thin lines, while the 10-for-a-dollar brush barely has one line width. OK, I’m convinced.

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