Good Question of the Week: Desert Island Brush Choice
A person taking my Craftsy.com People in Motion class recently asked a classic question in a creative way.
“Hi Marc. I’m enjoying your course and so great to see you demonstrating your techniques after following your blog. If I can please ask you. if I had only one brush (to take to a desert island) what size and kind would it be?”
Short Answer: This is a great question – and very hard to answer. But considering you are asking about travel – I’m going say it would be a #10 Da Vinci Maestro Series 1503 Travel Brush.
(That’s an Amazon affiliate link, but you can find them at any major online retailer of your choice – they also come in a much more affordable synthetic line).
The thing I love about a good sable brush – it has both a super sharp point, and at the same time, holds enough water to lay on it’s side and make a big shape. You can do an entire painting with this brush, from biggest shapes to smallest detail – (as long as it’s a smallish painting – 8×10 sort of size).
Plus, you can rely on the Da Vinci travel brush for their indestructible PVC self-enclosing body. You can take this brush anywhere. Throw it in a bag and leave it there for years. Even carry it in a jacket pocket. The only thing to know is, even though there is a tiny hole in the cap for air flow, you do have to open it up and let it air dry overnight (especially if you’re in a humid climate), so the ferrule doesn’t rust.
I will say, this brush is hard to find in shops, and is a bit pricey because of price fixing cartels and international trade regulation on pure sable hair.
You don’t *have* to get the travel model – I often carry normal wooden handle brushes in a zip up brush case. But, that’s clearly not as portable.
Longer Answer: If I was allowed to add only a second brush it would be a Winsor and Newton Series 7 sable in a #2 long hair version. It is almost a rigger in length.
W&N also has a line called Artist’s Water Color Sable that is very good as well. Sort of a second tier of hair, that seems very nice, and comes in a similar long-hair style.
I use these for tiny linear details, such as tree branches, long hair, wrinkles in fabric, power lines, water ripples – whenever you are drawing something detailed and linear or dashed in nature.
So, one big brush, one tiny.
Bonus Answer: I am loving having a dagger brush. Great for foliage, water and skies. Very expressive to draw with. I’m trying this new synthetic called Princeton Neptune. It seems fairly nice for a synthetic brush. Very soft-yet-whippy. But I haven’t had them long enough to really say much yet.
I am also carrying a Princeton Neptune Oval Wash (sort of a huge filbert shape) in a 3/4″ size – for skies and large foregrounds of grass or water.