Sunday, August 27, 2017

Art Product Review: Silver Brush Black Velvet Watercolor Brushes

The Silver Brush Black Velvet #8 Round, dry.

The Silver Brush Black Velvet 3-round pack was among my first purchases when I started to paint. The brush is cheaper than true Kolinsky sable, and yet it performs so well that I really noticed how much less water control synthetic-only watercolor brushes gave me in comparison.

The Black Velvet line from Silver Brush are thirsty, soft brushes with spring that wear well so far. A year later and it's good as new. This line's measurements also run a couple sizes smaller than other watercolor brush lines, so a size #8 is equivalent to a size #6 in, say, Winsor and Newton's brush lines.

This particular brush line also is short-handled rather than long-handled.

The brush tip itself is made of a mix of synthetic hair and natural squirrel hair. The squirrel hair is what holds a lot of water and paint, with a steady and controlled release; it's also what points very sharply, especially when wet.

The Silver Brush Black Velvet #8 Round, wet. Note the pointy point.
Steady and lovely release of water and paint. Also, black means that this phthalo green won't obviously stain the bristles.

Dotting with the tip, with various sized and shaped dots.

That fine pointed tip can do very fine and thin lines.

The synthetic hairs are what give the brush good wearability, strength, and spring.

Wet brush applied to paper, spreading out. 
And then the brush springs back readily when lifted.

The mix of natural squirrel hair and synthetic hair allow the brush to be soft enough to not disturb underlying layers while glazing, and yet also just hard enough to either gently lift or apply water to dissolve artist grade watercolor pencil.

Lately, this is the brush I always have handy. As I work with water media and avoid using shellac inks with it, I simply rinse it after a work session. No brush soap has been necessary thus far. I work mostly from 2.5"x3.5" to roughly 7"x10" happily with this brush, and it really is my work horse brush.

I also have a #4 round (is the size of a #2 in most other lines), a #12 round (the size of a #10 in most other lines), a #1 script, and a 1" oval pointed wash. All point beautifully and hold such a lot of water. When I'm working at 9"x12" I find that the oval pointed wash is quite suitable because it comes to a cat-tongue-like point.

"Four Cups and Fish", about 9"x12", was painted with a 1" oval pointed wash, accompanied by a smaller round for lifting where necessary. Everything from the table to the thin, delicate fins of the background fish used the 1" oval pointed wash.

Because the #8 round is so thirsty, if I need to consistently paint many small squares with concentrated color (such as for watercolor charts), I use the #4 round to reduce the amount of times I need to run my brush across a paper towel to reduce the water in it.

I highly recommend the Black Velvet brushes.

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 Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.