Whenever you see an artists studio with jars and jars of hundreds of brushes and all sorts of other art paraphenalia, are you impressed? I may have another opinion. I'll tell you why at the end of this post.
I went to Jacksons in Hackney, London this morning and bought a really nice big thick block of 100 sheets of watercolour paper. I've used Jacksons Art Supplies for a number of years now and always been happy with their service but thought I'd make a personal visit. It's only a short bus and train ride from me.
I was hoping to get some brushes but there was no way I could try them out without causing an awful lot of inconvenience. However, I was told they hope to have a proper shop before too long where this will be possible.
I hate buying some things online, especially brushes. A decent sable brush can cost a kings ransom and I can't afford to make any erroneous purchases. To give you an idea, their most expensive brush (when they have it in stock) is a Da Vinci Maestro 10 Tobolsky-Kolinsky red sable, size 50 at £1244.88 but Jacksons price is "only" £984.05.
I couldn't afford one of those. Just imagine getting it home, washing out the starch that keeps them pointed, and then finding out it's way too floppy for our style of painting.
However, even if I was buying a brush for £10, I'd like to know that it was suitable for me.
I made that mistake with some squirrel brushes and Chinese goat and horse hair brushes I bought, useless, for me. We need to try them really or have some really, really good demonstration videos and reviews of them being used on YouTube. To be fair, Jacksons do have a few Youtube videos showing the use of Da Vinci brushes but it looks like a kid is painting with them and they are not showing how they perform properly. I'll scour YouTube for more informative videos and if I find any, I'll let you all know.
Anyway, back to the pictures we see of artists studios where they have hundreds of brushes in jars. It may impress some people because it looks like the artist uses a fresh brush for each new painting they do, but in my opinion either the artist just likes buying brushes for the sake of it or, they have made so many wrong decisions when purchasing their weapon of choice, they just don't know what to do with them except display them like vases of flowers.
Personally, if I find the ideal brush then that would be all I'd need. I'd just buy the three that I need, a 1" flat, a round No 8 and 16 and maybe a cheap rigger. Then I would just keep using those. The fewer tools you have the fewer decisions you need to make but you may need more skill to use them effectively.
My brushes at the moment are wearing thin, they have lost their points and my painting has developed to the point where I know exactly what I want from a brush but it's finding the right one without spending a lot of money and time on the wrong ones.