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The superiority of sable

Sable hair has qualities that make it especially suitable for watercolour brushes. These include high paint holding capacity, fine points and good springiness.

Kolinsky sable is the best type, being slightly thicker in the middle for improved spring, but with a finer point. It commands a price premium over plain red sable.

Originally referring to a specific species found on the Kola peninusla of Russia, Kolinsky now means a group of related species from various parts of Asia. Very cold climates make the hair grow stronger, so Siberian Kolinsky is the most highly regarded.

If you haven't experienced sable brushes, they will be a revelation.

Allow us to demonstrate...

We recommend that you try the following with one of your current non-sable brushes. Compare your results with ours. You will see the benefits that Luxartis Kolinksy sable brushes will bring to your work regardless of your level of ability.

Appearance and feel

When wet, a quality brush has a cleanly defined pointed shape. Hairs are neatly groomed without strays to put paint in the wrong places.

Close-up shot of our number 10 head
Close-up of our number 10 head

Paint capacity

We are using a small-medium #6 brush here, tuft length about 19mm (3/4 inch) and maximum diameter when wet about 3.5mm (9/64 inch). The area is about 50mm (two inches) wide.

Paper is dry watercolour paper with a medium NOT finish. Damp, smooth or non-absorbent paper will obviously allow the paint to go further before breaking.

The brush was fully loaded up to the ferrule with two draws against the rim of the dish to take out the excess. Zig-zag strokes from side to side were painted down the area.

Number 6 round pointed brush area fills

We get about 30 - 40mm (1.25 - 1.5 inches) of solid wash before the brush dries enough that paint stops filling all the pits of the texture.

Remember this brush is of fairly modest size. Larger brushes will of course give more coverage. The surprising thing is that the points hardly get blunter even when the size increases considerably.

Fine points, tidy strokes, even flow, good spring

Again using a #6 brush, this time half loaded. The stroke begins on the left with the finest point (less than 1mm wide). Pressure is increased to spread the tuft. Without pausing, the brush is gradually lifted through the remainder of the stroke until back to a point on the right.

Number 6 round pointed brush stroke test

This is a very telling test. Note the fineness of the stroke when the least pressure is applied. With care, the brush will produce finer lines still.

See how the stroke has neat edges, indicating a lack of stray hairs.

Observe the eveness of the paint flow – there are no blobs, breaks or great variations in density.

Finally, note how the hairs naturally spring back together as pressure is reduced to the right of the stroke.

The spring also shows when you shake the water out – the brush naturally snaps to a point with little or no manual grooming.

How do your own brushes compare?

If your brushes do all that, treasure them!

If they don't, we cannot claim that Luxartis brushes will transform you into a master overnight. Technique counts most of all, and that comes with practice. But which brushes will enable you to produce your best work? Which will fight back, coarsening every painting they touch?

I'm still learning – do I need high-quality brushes?

Skilled artists know that you get what you pay for, and quality work relies on quality tools and materials. If you're still learning and think cheap brushes must be good enough, you're making the classic mistake of false economy.

Low-quality tools inhibit and restrict the learning process, increase frustration and stunt your potential. As a learner, you need quality capable of bringing out your best and able to respond to your developing skill.

Good tools and materials help you grow your talent, not waste it fighting their limitations.

"Buying the best you can afford is usually sound advice for any purchase. Better quality not only gives better results more easily, but it often lasts longer too. The cheap stuff often isn't such good value after all"

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