Jackson’s Procryl Brushes are designed for professional oil and acrylic painters. Made with acrylic fibres and a long matte black handle, they are moderately springy and absorbent. In this review, painter Chris Longridge tests the Long Flat Series of Jackson’s Procryl Brushes, and shares his thoughts.
Review of Jackson’s Procryl Brushes – Long Flat Series
by Chris Longridge
There are three vital components in any painter’s toolkit – pigment, support and brushes – and the last might just be the most important. Just as engineers demand precision from their tools, painters should be no less demanding of theirs.
This means we’re in Goldilocks territory: some brushes are too fine, some are too stiff, some are too loose – very few are just right. But to come back to our engineering analogy, the issue isn’t always bad tools so much as picking the right one for the job. Lucian Freud famously switched from sable to hog-hair brushes in the 1950s; the difference in style is self-evident, and only achieved by mastery of a new tool. (It probably helped that Freud was really, really good too.)
I paint mostly in oils, sometimes acrylics, and for reasons I’ve never understood, I am very sparing with the paint – it always goes on dry and flat, no matter how much I enjoy impasto in other people’s work. Hog hair, then, is too clumsy for me, sable too weedy. Both are necessary in their right place, but for almost my whole life I’ve used synthetic brushes. Which brings me to Jackson’s Procryl Brushes.
Designed with acrylic painters in mind, synthetic brushes at their best combine the bounce and resilience of (typically long-handled) stiff brushes with the smooth draw of a sable. I favour flat-ended for the precision they offer – I like a hard line – and for the variety inherent in their mark-making.
Jackson’s Procryl Brushes – Long Flat Series were new to me, and surprised me with their versatility. Long handle: check. I can only love a short-handled brush for super-fine work. And speaking of the handle, the finish was smooth and satiny. This was interesting, as it suggested a firmer grip, but actually I can’t say it made a noticeable difference in the end.
The diameter of the handle was appropriate to the width of the ferrule, which meant the brushes were suitable both for broad strokes and precision work – neither too fiddly nor too chunky in the hand. The fibres were softer than I’m used to (I usually use Pro Arte Sterling Acrylix), which encouraged me to work thinner than usual, but the bristles weren’t too fine to stand up to a bit of rough treatment. I didn’t have to pick up any loose hairs from the painting surface, anyway.
They held the pigment beautifully, though being finer they had a tendency to tangle slightly and lose form when working with stodgier pigment. The darkness of the hairs meant also that I wasn’t always confident of the colour that I was about to apply compared to a white-bristle brush. But as I said before: it’s a question of the right tool for the job. If you don’t want to splash out on a fifty-part menagerie of exotic brushes, then they’re a decent compromise for a slimmed-down kit – good for applying a wash as well as dabbing a deliberate brushstroke, and very reasonably priced.
About Chris Longridge
Chris Longridge is an artist based in Kent. He works primarily in oils and explores the limitations and opportunities afforded by paint in a post-digital environment, particularly regarding portraiture and the figure.