Monday, February 2, 2009

Synthetic Flats

Synthetic-filament brushes come in a variety of shapes: flats, filberts, and rounds. Flats are especially useful for painting architecture and machines because they can lay down rectangular shapes easily. You can also turn them sideways to paint a fine line.

Here I'm using a Winsor and Newton Series 995 Golden Taklon ½ inch flat to establish the dark shape of a crypt door.

The finished watercolor painting shows the chunky half-inch stroke module in the stonework and the big shadows. I also used a #4 sable round travel brush for some of the fine line work.

You can use ¼ inch nylon flats with oil or acrylic. For opaque media they come with longer handles. They’re inexpensive, but they don’t last long. Eventually lose their chisel-sharp edge.


Steve said...


The finished painting shows light-colored grillwork within the dark door rectangle. Given that the video clip shows you laying in dark paint, how did you do the grillwork?

I have learned a great deal from your blog. It's wonderful.

James Gurney said...

Steve, thanks for asking; I should have explained. For that grillwork I used a little gouache and added it after the dark shape was dry. I put a pan of white gouache into the watercolor kit for such things as light twigs against a dark background.

Andrew said...

You know, this is something that I've been wondering about a bit with your watercolor sketches...

Do you wait for a bit while it dries to lay in darker color, or do you still go at it while it's wet, and just try to dry brush it in? Or do you just try to lay it in with the minimum amount of water you can get by with?

I've yet to find myself a good flat to take along for sketching...currently, I use a water brush flat which works pretty well, except it tends to give a very wet on wet look.

ricardo said...

I don't know much about brushes, so getting to know that the price is related to (among other things?) longevity is a great information.

What's the better way of treating your brushes when you're going to clean them up? How do you remove all the paint and make them last longer?
I believe it's with the appropriate solvent, but I'm not really sure.

Erik Bongers said...

I have a 1" and 1/2" "Expression" flats from Daler-Rowney and I love them. but I only use them for washes.
I often favour synthetic brushes for acryl. I use both strongly deluted 'aquarelic' acryl paint as wel as opaque.

armandcabrera said...


Great post.
I love flats because after a couple of months of abuse from me they end up as filberts anyway so I get two kinds of brushes for the price of one.