Friday, December 28, 2018

[Product Review] Water Brushes

image via fang fang store
image via fang fang store
image via fang fang store
  






L/M/S Plastic Water Storage Soft Brush Drawing Paint Watercolor Calligraphy Pen 
Ship & Sold by fang fang store on Wish.com 

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Category: Art Supplies, Watercolor water brush


Disclaimer: All prices listed on this review are prices at the time this was written and subject to change 


Part 1: Product Description

100% Brand New and High Quality
Material:Plastic + Nylon Hair
Color:White
Size:Large/Middle/Small
Total Length12cm 
Approx Package include: 3pcs different size pen


Size     Brush Head Length   Brush Head Diameter
L         1.8cm                          6mm
M         1.5cm                          4mm
S         1.5cm                          3mm

Use method:
A.Injection method
Unscrew the pen, put some water into the pen

B.Moisture adjustment tip
Initially, when used, squeeze a pen nib will effluent
You can wipe with the paper, adjust the water

C.Coloring method
Maintaining adequate moisture pen directly stained with paint and began painting

D. How to change color
Need to change color when the pen wipe with a paper towel, you can clear out the color

E.How to preserve
When not in use, the tip clean water, close the lid on it


Part 2: Recommendation

With the growing popularity of water brushes among the watercolor & brush lettering/calligraphy communities, I decided to get a cheap one on Wish.com (I only had to pay for shipping of USD $2.00) instead of springing for the more expensive Pentel Aquash Water Brush (in the same pack of 3 brushes for USD $15.27 on Amazon) or the Arteza Water Brush Pen (pack of 4 brushes for USD $9.57 on Amazon) or the Sakura Koi Water Brush (pack of 3 brushes for USD $14.99 on Amazon) just to test out whether I'd enjoy painting watercolors with a water brush or not. There are now many water brush brands to choose from and you now can buy a water brush that fits your budget.

Since I started my watercolor journey back in 2004 with a Prang Oval 8-color set, I have only used synthetic watercolor paint brushes because that's all I can afford to spend on a hobby (aka, I'm not a professional watercolorist). Watercolor brushes, whether synthetic or natural sable brushes, have a wide range of sizes and shapes. The more natural your bristles are made out of, the more it can absorb water and pigment but you have less control with your strokes/marks on the page — at least, that's what I've learned from Angela Fehr's YouTube videos. So it doesn't bother me that all water brushes, as of writing, have soft nylon bristles. 

Before water brushes came on the market, traveling and painting with watercolors can be a bit daunting and challenging in the sense that you have to make sure you have a clean supply of water: either you bring it with you or the place you're going to -- like a hiking trail, park, coffee shop, restaurant, or the top of the mountain in the middle of nowhere -- has a clean supply of water (think river, stream, ocean, lake, water fountain, bottled water, etc) and all of your watercolor supplies (paints, brushes, palettes, watercolor papers/notebook, masking tape, pens and pencils, erasers, paper towels/rags, paint water containers for dirty water and clean water, spray bottle) all fit in a travel friendly bag. Yes, you can buy pocket-sized watercolor papers and notebooks and short-handled paint brushes, and if your paints are in a tube, you can easily squeeze them out into empty half pans and fit them in a palette the size of an Altoids tin but you still have the problem of carting around a heavy water bottle with you and what do you do with the dirty paint water? I don't think anyone should be draining paint water into rivers, lakes, streams and the ocean because we don't know if living things and other organisms will react badly to whatever our paints are made of. Well, that problem has been solved by water brushes. 

I haven't traveled anywhere with watercolors yet (unless going from my home office desk to the family room floor can count as such) but like everyone who has tried water brushes whether indoors or outdoors, in the middle of nowhere, I'm really loving them. The set I'm reviewing has a capacity of about 4.4cc/mL (I use a plastic syringe, without the needle, to fill up the water brush with water from a 3.5oz travel shampoo bottle on my desk). It doesn't leak from the barrel like some cheap water brushes I've heard about on YouTube, and like all nylon-bristled water brushes, the bristles will get a permanent paint stain on them. 

Nylon bristles are now permanently stained


It doesn't affect your painting as long as you rinse the bristles by squeezing the barrel and wiping the bristles on a rag or paper towel to clean off the current color/pigment until clean water comes out before you change colors, and you'll be fine. Rinsing these water brushes prior to switching colors was actually not bad. If you already have 2 pots of water set up, you can by all means rinse your water brushes the usual way and use your water brushes like you would a non-water brush paint brush. 

Water flow is good. I found that I do need to squeeze the barrel with a bit more effort especially when doing washes for wet-on-wet techniques. For wet-on-dry techniques, these water brushes performed really well despite having water in the barrel, as long as you don't squeeze the barrel and that you maintain a very relaxed hold on the barrel. If you have a tendency to grip hard when doing detailed work, I suggest moving your fingers closer to the bristles and grip the part where the filter is or what would be the equivalent of the ferrule. What I did was I dried the bristles on an old face towel first then dipped the brush into the paint and painted on dry paper. Because the bristles are made of nylon, they snap back into shape and you can easily control the marks or strokes you put on the paper. Definitely no surprise, weird marks from these brushes unless it was your intent to make those weird marks on paper. 

The downside to these particular nylon bristles and probably because of their size, it takes a lot more time to soak up excess paint puddles for medium to large washes on your palette compared to other synthetic paint brushes (I have the Master's Touch synthetic watercolor brushes from Hobby Lobby to compare with). This set I got are round brushes sized small (approx. between brush sizes 5-6), medium (approx. a size 8 brush), and large (approx. a size 12 brush). The points are quite pointy so technically, you can get away with a large or a medium water brush even for very detailed work. The brushes picked up a decent amount of pigment (and here I used a Prang Oval 8-color set because they're cheap, has good pigment compared to other children/student grade watercolor sets, doesn't dry up chalky, and you can buy refill strips on Amazon or once you've used up the Prang colors and you want to upgrade to Daniel Smith or you just want to try paint tubes, you can clean out the empty oval pans and squeeze your paint tubes in it since the Prang Oval pans hold a lot more paint than the regular half pans) when I'm making my puddles for washes or when mixing paints to create blue green or mixing blue and orange to get gray.

For the amount of water in the barrel, I'm quite surprised and happy to share that, they lasted quite a while and they remained clean.  They lasted through 2 watercolor paintings on a 5.5"x8" 140lb.(300gsm), cold press, Strathmore Watercolor Visual Journal. The large water brush, which I used the most and half of one page I did a wet-on-wet technique using the water in the barrel, had very little water left, like maybe 3-5% water whereas the medium water brush was barely used so it probably still had 85% water left and the small brush, which I used to color in the letters, had probably 75% water left. 


I have to say though that having this spill-proof, 3.5oz travel shampoo bottle filled with tap water did save me from using a lot of the water in the barrels especially when I was activating the paints and making puddles in my palette for washes. Since the travel bottle gives out a drop of water at a time, it was really easy to activate the paints with literally just one tiny drop and it was really easy and a lot more controllable to add drops of water for washes instead of using a syringe or your non-water brush paint brush. It is also equally convenient to just use the syringe to refill the water brush barrels from the travel water bottle when you don't have access to a sink. These water brushes in conjunction with a 3.5oz travel water bottle and an old 100% cotton face towel definitely removed my fear of spilling paint water all over my desk and possibly ruining any and all electronics on my desk or spilling paint water all over the carpet in the family room or worse, my dog drinking paint water and getting really sick and/or dying from it. Having these water brushes even if you're not one to paint outdoors or in the middle of nowhere, I think is a must have especially if you don't mind synthetic or nylon bristles or if you're afraid of spilling paint water everywhere or just for the sheer convenience of it.

Prang + Waterbrush Sample 1



Prang + Waterbrush Sample 2