“What kind of brushes do you use?”  It seems to be the number one question asked of the digital artists I follow on Instagram.  Interestingly, there seem to be fewer questions about  brushes among the followers of analog painters. Either way, brushes are a tool with potential that can remain locked within or exploited in a myriad of ways.

As an analog painter since 1980, I have had a lot of brushes pass through my hands. I keep most of them due to either pragmatic or emotional attachment, or a combination of both. They help me in my day to day existence, and some of them have been with me since high school. I can’t throw away my brushes- I never know when I am going to need them. This month I thought I would introduce you to a few of my little friends and helpers.

some old filberts and brights

Sometimes the ends wear down to a square, or an angle- either way, they evolve into a new role as they wear.


Rosemary and Co. brushes are exceptionally durable and of consistent high quality.

I primarily use long Ivory Filberts and 279 badger brushes from Rosemary. These are my workhorse brushes these days.

Big Honking Brushes

a selection from the Big Honking Brush collection. Sometimes you need these. Or at least, I do.

My other workhorse brush is the Blick Mega Brush.

I only buy one size, number 30. when I get too fussy, I fuse everything together with these.

I have several jars full of these random small brushes. every one was important at least once- and i keep them for the time they are needed again. I suspect I use every brush I own at least once a year. Many I use almost every day. But I still use all of them.

These are totally shot- but you can’t buy them like this. they are just waiting for the right moment to get put into action.

Cheap detail brushes- I buy a few of these craft painter brushes almost every time I go to an art store. They may last only for a day, but again, once in a while a problem arises that can anly be solved with one of these. I feel like I know them all, and most of the time, it only takes me a minute to find the one I want.

its like a horror movie…

I bought some of these Grumbacher Gainsborough brushes with money I earned painting signs when I was in High School..

The paint is completely worn off some of the handles. I love these old friends!

These are Special Friends. special brushes that I take extra care with…for special occasions…

SOme of these “special friends” are cheap, and some are quite expensive- or unobtainable…

The most special ones are these custom made French brushes I was given by the great watercolorist William Matthews. I use this one to sign my name.

Old worn out Windsor and Newton series7 watercolor brushes. Mainly replaced by the cheap craft painter brushes, these guys can still answer the bell.

…at least this one can…

Before I discovered Rosemary filberts, I used Robert Simmons Signets. I have a lot and I still use them, they are a bit softer and looser feeling than the Rosemary brushes, not right for everything, but still they are great. I’ve given many of them away to students.

Notice the severely damaged ferrule on this brush. This is due to me slamming it against the edge of my easel in frustration. I keep it to remind myself not to act like an idiot.

I bought the brush on the right in 1983 in Paris. It took me until 2017 to find them again, and bought a few new ones (on left), not a minute too soon.

Lastly, these are typically the brushes I use in a days work of painting.

Take care of your friends- and they will take care of you.