Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Rosemary and Company Brushes

I initially bought three brushes from Rosemary & Co, by way of a trial. These were a #2 pure sable (Series 99), a #1 sable blend (Series 401) and a #2/0 Kolinsky (Series 33).
I bought from the company website, which was quick and easy to use. The brushes arrived three days later. They were securely packaged, being bound to a board with an elastic band all inside a strong padded envelope. All the brushes had good, heavy-duty protectors over the points. Some might question whether this is sufficient protection, but having bought on several occasions now, the same method has been totally trouble free.
A careful examination showed excellent points and not a hair out of place once the gum Arabic had been rinsed away. Size-wise, the brush heads compare closely with both Pro Arte and Winsor and Newton, so if you stick with the size you know from these manufacturers you shouldn’t get too many surprises. The handles are glossy black and feel well- proportioned. Overall the brushes are very close in length to the equivalent sizes from other brands. Note however that many of the brushes are available with long handles as an option. A “long” handle is about 4” / 10 cm longer than a standard, and feels very different.
I put the brushes to work straight away. I use mainly artists’ acrylics on figures, and am used to a fairly stiff, slightly rebellious paint that has to be put firmly in its place.
 The sable blend was the cheapest and very obviously so. It holds a nice, but not perfect, point. There is a decent sized belly that holds a good, but not massive, volume of paint. There is less spring than the pure bristle types, but the filaments respond well. The brush has, it must be said, stood up far better than similar types of brush from other makers. I’ve used quite a lot of Winsor’s Sceptre Gold II’s and Pro Arte Series 100’s over the years and they can become very ragged very quickly. This is a far better brush than equivalent sable mixes I have used.
The pure sable is nice – one would say brilliant were it not up against its stablemate (see below). The point is quite short and tapers quickly, giving a good belly to act as a reservoir, whilst allowing you to get in to do fine work with the point. Filaments are very even and possess a lovely feel and crispness. There’s no evidence of “hooking” at the point and it has stood up well to a good deal of use. Overall, a very nice brush indeed, fully the equal of pure sables supplied by other makers at a far higher price.
The piece de resistance is the Kolinsky. The point is exquisite, with wonderful spring and resilience. The precision of the brush has to be felt. The saying that you don’t notice good tools could have been written for these – they work so well that you need expend no effort on thinking about the brush, it simply goes where you want. I have no complaints about the life of the brush – it’s holding up well. I would without hesitation say these brushes are every bit the equal of the famed Winsor and Newton Seven series, at a fraction of the price. I’ve subsequently bought a number of other Kolinskys from Rosemary, in sizes from 10/0 to 2 and the above applies equally to all of them.
Later, I got a couple of the “Ivory” brushes. These are a synthetic hogs’ bristle imitation, intended for oils. I like stiff brushes like this for drybrushing. I find the ability to “scrub” the paint in is helpful. I bought a short flat and a filbert. In an ideal world, I’d be able to get an angled brush (side loader / shader type) too, but I suppose you can’t have everything!
If you want exemplary brushes at decent prices, give them a whirl.
Visit the company website

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