Ideal for watercolour, gouache and ink, Roman Szmal Synthetic Squirrel Quill Brushes use synthetic hair to imitate the qualities of natural squirrel hair. In this Customer Review of the Month, Barbara Howard explains why she prefers these brushes for her watercolour painting practice, and how using them encourages her to experiment with different styles and techniques.
Roman Szmal Synthetic Squirrel Quill Brushes
by Barbara Howard
I fell in love with Roman Szmal Aquarius Watercolour Paint a couple of years ago, so I was very interested when I saw Jackson’s were stocking Roman Szmal Watercolour Brushes. In the recent Jackson’s brush sale, when I saw how affordable these brushes were, I purchased a small, medium and large quill and a small liner brush. On arrival the other brushes I had ordered were pushed to one side when I discovered what fun these Roman Szmal Brushes were to paint with.
The brushes have shafts of transparent lacquered wood and are approximately 150 cm long. The shaft has a plastic quill with wire as per standard quill style. Made from synthetic squirrel hair they feel soft without being floppy and have a good snap to them. The width of the fibres is: small 4.5 mm, medium 6 mm and large is 7.5 mm, and length ranges from 20 mm to 30 mm. The brushes come to a very fine point, especially when wet. All sizes hold a considerable amount of water resulting in one dip going a long way.
My first practice sheet shows the thin lines that can be achieved with all three quills, as well as the width when used on the side in one stroke. The next example shows how evenly the water is released in a continuous long stroke as does the leaf shape in a shorter length. Note how even the even the paint was released on the long line. The last example gives you the idea of how good the water holding capacity was. I ran out of room for the large brush and the medium brush was particularly impressive.
My second is a play sheet showing the versatility of these brushes. The curlicues were easy to achieve, even the largest brush would have made them perfect. Being able to do successful lettering, curls and swirls in one go with ease was a real bonus. I found that because of the flexibility and smoothness of painting with these brushes that my painting flowed and was a lot looser as a result.
I also purchased a small liner brush, again made of synthetic squirrel hair. The hairs are long and hold a lot of water for such a fine brush. The water is released steadily and the paint goes a long way. The length and softness of the hairs means the brush dances across the paper, gives very fine twig and grass effects, and creates interesting effects when used sideways.
I am very impressed with all 4 brushes. They are such fun to paint with and have encouraged me to experiment with different styles and techniques. The quality and the affordable price makes these Roman Szmal Brushes a must buy and try.
About Barbara Howard
I am a self taught watercolour painter, living on an island that is colourful in summer, and grey and misty in winter. So painting with colours is essential to capture the colours of one and survive the other. My leaning is towards semi abstract still life, landscape and buildings but I experiment with different techniques and styles all the time. For me playing with colour using mostly watercolour paints is an absorbing passion and pleasure, a hobby for life.