Notebook, 1993-


The Choice of Brushes

The choice of brushes for tempera painting will be regulated to some extent, of course, by the size and type of the painting; but whether the brushes are large or small, blunt or pointed, bristle or sable, they must be designed to hold a certain body of color and to feed it out in painting as freely and smoothly as a pen feeds ink. This means that the hairs or bristles must be fairly long, and nicely toed in to the point, so that the natural curve of the hair forms a reservoir between the ends. Nothing is better than red sable water color [p. 91] brushes. It does not pay even to experiment with camel's hair; it is too soft and unmanageable. Black sables are a little less expensive then the red, but much inferior, not only in the hair, but usually also in the workmanship. Curiously enough, breadth of treatment in tempera has not very much to do with the size of the brushes. You can work as minutely or as broadly as you please with a small brush; and for the beginner, small brushes are usually an advantage. Japanese or Chinese brushes, made of fiber or sheep's hair, are of limited usefulness for tempera painting. they make beautiful strokes with very thin color; but have not enough spring for general use. [pp. 91-92]

[Thompson, Daniel V., Jr., Research and Technical Adviser, The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. The Practice of Tempera Painting. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1936. Fourth Printing, 1946.]



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