The Winsor & Newton Series 7 has long been known as one of the best watercolor brushes with a variety of excellent brushes made from natural fibers as well as synthetics. The Series 7 brushes are made of pure kolinsky sable, traditionally the top material for professional brushes with a soft, absorbent body and clean tips; an excellent choice for watercolor painting. The brushes are hand-made with carefully selected and dressed sable hair, sturdy wood handles, and seamless, rustproof ferrule.
The brushes come in 13 sizes, ranging from Number 000 to Number 10 brushes in the standard style, while a miniature style brush comes with much shorter bristles and a range of nine sizes. Because sable is so rare, the brushes can be costly but they last for years with many artists relying on one or two sable brushes for the majority of their work.
A popular artist’s brush, the Raphael Kolinsky brushes are made of high-quality red sable hair and like all sable brushes, these brushes have thick, absorbent tips and hold their shape well. The brand offers several styles of Kolinsky brushes including a square edge, several extra-long brush styles and a pocket brush ideal for traveling. This round brush has a standard fine point making it suitable for a wide range of projects and styles and while relatively expensive, they’re still reasonably priced for pure sable. Plus, Raphael Kolinksky offers a wide range of brushes with 15 sizes, including Numbers 12, 14, and 16, (Unusually large for sable brushes.)
With their black handles and sleek, rust-resistant ferrules, the Maestro brushes offer class and quality. Da Vinci produces a variety of excellent brushes, but the Maestro brushes are the brand’s top brushes. Made of special Kolinsky Red Sable hair, these brushes come in a variety of styles including rounds and flats. The rounds come in sizes up to the Number 24 and the jumbo rounds in Number 50, larger than any of the other sable rounds. They are moderately expensive but still reasonable enough where artists can pick up a few specialty styles made from good quality sable.
While the best watercolor brushes are made of Kolinsky sable hair, these brushes come in a close second with a blend of squirrel hair and synthetic filament. Squirrel hair is highly absorbent and holds plenty of color but softer than sable hair. The brushes come in a good range of styles from the standard rounds and flats to special script and oval wash brushes. The largest rounds are comparable to a Number 24, while the flat brushes range from a quarter inch to one inch in size. They are also fairly inexpensive for brushes made with natural hair making them a good choice for artists looking for a soft brush or a new style to try.
The White Sable brushes are not actually made of sable hair but rather a high-quality synthetic filament. While some artists consider synthetics inferior in quality others prefer to avoid sable and other animal-based products and let’s not forget synthetic materials have improved tremendously over time. While Robert Simmons produces a variety of brushes including high-quality sable and synthetic blends, these White Sable brushes can match most sable brushes for quality at a significantly lower price. They have excellent body, hold plenty of color and maintain their shape well. Their only real drawback is the white bristles which stain easily. It doesn’t affect their quality (As long as they are properly cleaned), but they also won’t keep their original, pristine white look either.