Monday, July 20, 2009

Niji Waterbarrel Brushes - with a water reservoir in the handle

QUESTION: Hi Susie, I enjoyed seeing your sketch of Sumner, WA. using the NiJi watercolor pens. It was so bright and cheerful. I was wondering if you could expand a bit to include how you accomplished this on your web site. I'd like to know which sizes you used, how they blended, how much color to carry in the tubes and most of all how many of each size brush to buy so that you have enough for what you want to do. I am not good with just hearing a mm description. I am a hands on person and I don't think I'm alone in this. I wish Daniel Smith would include this also in their Inksmith articles or on their web page.
And I just want to let you know how wonderful your Beyond the Sunset DVD is! Thank you so very much, Judith R --Tacoma, WA.

Note: The Sumner sketch she's referring to can be found on my Splashes & Splatters Blog

SUSIE'S REPLY: Thanks Judith!
The Yasutomo Niji Waterbrush is a nifty brush with a water reservoir in the handle. I use the round style and it comes in 3 sizes; small, medium and large. There is also a mini version that has a shorter handle but the brush head is a medium in size. All of these brush heads are interchangeable and will each fit any of the handles so if you run out of water in one you can easily change to another handle with more water.
You could get by with just one medium size brush. It has a fairly nice point for making fine lines.
But the water barrel brushes are so affordable I'd at least start with one of each size. (S-M-L)
I did find that I used my larger brush more aggressively (to cover larger areas) and after a couple of years of scrubbing the paper with it the point did get frazzled. But it still works for scrubbing in trees and bushes so I save my newer one for adding details and painting where I need to control the edge.
There is a flat version available also. However, I didn't find it as useful to my personal painting style as the round brushes, so I hardly ever use it for painting but it does serve as a backup water supply! Try it! You may like what it will do and enjoy using it.
Directions for use: To fill the brushes either hold them under a running faucet or submerge them in a bowl of water and gently squeeze and release several times to push out the air and suck in the water. I fill them with as much water as they will hold. I've never had one leak, but as a precaution if I'm carrying my brushes in the same container with my paper I do put them is a small plastic baggie for transport.
To use these brushes in the field, I start by squeezing the handle to allow a small amount of water to wet the brushes nylon bristles. Then I moisten the dried paint in my folding watercolor travel palette to pick up pigment in the brush to apply to my paper. If I want a lighter value I simply swirl the brush on my palette until the water feeds down to dilute the paint to the desired value. My experience has been that I get better results if I let gravity help feed the water to the brush head rather than squeezing the handle as I stroke it on the palette for mixing or my paper as I paint.
The water barrel brush is almost self cleaning. Just a quick back and forth stroking on a paper towel will cause the water to pass through the brush head and rinse away any remaining pigment.
Keep in mind when I'm painting "en plein air" I like to work a little on the dry side to have more control. In other words I use more dry brush techniques than fully wet juicy brush techniques.
Thanks for your inquiry! I hope I've answered your questions satisfactorily and have inspired you to try these brushes for yourself. Watch my website and when I'm painting in your area I hope you will join me!!
Happy Painting!
PS. I forgot to tell you where to find the Niji Water Brushes...They are available in many arts and crafts stores. I've seen them in Michaels, JoAnn's and Hobby Lobby. Online check Daniel Smith -- Dick Blick -- Cheap Joe's -- -- to name only a few. I know I'm leaving some quality online sources out so check your favorites to see if they carry these nifty brushes for summer painting fun.


Parisbreakfasts said...

Have you ever put watercolor paint directly into the water tube section? I remember they made different colors but can't find them anymore..

Susie Short said...

Hi Carol, I have not put watercolor in my brushes. I'd need 20+ brushes!But yes, you can premix watercolors with water and easily load the color into these brushes. They are affordable so you can have one for each color. The liquid watercolors, like Dr. Martin's would probably need to be diluted.
The first time I saw these brushes was a demo by a calligrapher and she was amazingly writing with a brush filled walnut ink.
Try it! And let me know how they work for you!
Thanks for writing.