26 April 2021

A Casual Review: Princeton "Snap!" and Select Brushes

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Though I never became the major influencer that I thought I'd become, I do use supplies and I do like them and like to tell other people about them, perforce I have an opinion and the 'Web is all about that.

As an aspiring artist, I use brushes. And when one starts out inventing themselves as such, one tends to hear advice reducing to don't shy away from spending what you can for the best you can get, which is true per se but doesn't help you home in on brands and varieties and price ranges and such, which is probably what you really wanted to know. Along the way, you'll hear sirens songs of sable brushes, blandishments to care properly for your brushes and they'll last forever (and if you let your acrylic dry in them, you'll just have an expensive stick), and sizes and shapes and whatnot. It's all a bit confusing.

Here's my experience so far.

When was painting the little acrylic 50-Paintings series (a few of which I have left to do) I got a bunch of Royal & Langnickel "Zen" brushes. They're fun to use but as I use them, I find the bristles don't stand up to regular use like I'd hoped. R&L is one of the more value-priced companies, and have achieved a certain reputation in the makeup world, and are inexpensive in the good way in the artist range, but it's a brand you start out with while you get acquainted with what's out there, and terminology and such.

The handles to Zen brushes are the prettiest mirrored ABS plastic, which makes them fun to look at, but one of mine has had the shiny outside start to peel off. And the bristles are prone to splaying out, even if you do take care of them.

Richeson "Gray Matter" brushes ... called as such because the neutral gray color of the bristles are supposed to visually facilitate using your color ... are more satisfying, however, they're harder to come by. And just getting a #2 round doesn't meant you'll get the same size: they have different series. They do perform well, though, and are a little higher priced though not egregiously so.

So, hop skip and jump through a thumbnail of my artist brush experience so far brings me where? Princeton Art Brush Company. They have two ranges that I'm really quite loving just now, and here is a picture of my latest:


Dig if you will this picture of three round brushes. The one at the top, with the blue handle, is a Princeton Select Artiste #2 round. The other two with green/black/blue handles, are Princeton SNAP! brushes, a #0 Round and #2 Round. All three employ synthetic fibres for bristles, and they are all intended for acrylic/watercolor work.

These are really splendid for beginners looking for a brush with a serious feel to them. I use these small rounds quite a lot of my paint-by-numbers doings, and they give me a control and precision that navigating some of those small spaces require. The Artiste Select is a moderately-priced brush with a short handle, the Snap! brushes feature a fibre called white taklon and each of these lovelies is a long-handled model ("9800 series") and I got them because I like the long handles and also I could use those for oil painting if so inclined. The bristles on all three are nice and springy and hold their shape and a fine point if needed.

Also? The prices on the Snap! brushes are all less than $10 each, most less than $5 each, which is a boon for beginning artists wanting a good quality brush for not a lot of money. 

I got mine at Artist & Craftsman Supply on SE 21st off Powell, which we have become very fond of.


So ... inexpensive but not cheap, worth it if you want to get into art without breaking the bank just yet. Hard to to better at this price point. Recommended.

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