Skip to Main Content
Sign In
Toggle Navigation

Open the Navigation Management window, which can be used to view the full current branch of the menu tree, and edit it.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook

MITRA Forum Question Details

Image Picker for Section 0


  • Synthetic sable brushesApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-04-04 00:24:09 ... Most recent comment 2018-04-23 19:18:45
    Oil Paint Studio Tools and Tips

    Dear MITRA,

    I love sable oil painting brushes but am looking for a animal-friendly alternative. Can anyone reccomend a high quality synthetic sable brush that handles similarly to the real thing?


Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Without recommending a specific product, personally I've found some synthetic mongoose oil brushes to be very nice. ​The ones I've tried have offered some of the nice qualities of natural hair with good solvent resistance and nice spring even when heavily loaded.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2018-04-04 20:33:57
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​It might (?) help if you described your painting technique a bit you work with thick, pastose paint? Do you apply a series of thin glazes? Matthew's recommendation seems fine to me (as I personally have little to no experience with synthetic hair brushes) but perhaps we can put some queries out if you can elaborate a bit more on your technique.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-04-07 21:58:32
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    I have been using sable for many years, and apart from wear from friction at the tip, they generally stay in good condition. They are sometimes exposed to strong solvents like acetone without seeming to suffer.
    I would also like to change to synthetics but, although they feel very nice to use in the beginning, all that I have tried have quickly started to splay.

    One particular case I found interesting was where the fibres splayed right near the tip, like a palm tree.
    Cleaning with anything (soap, mineral spirits, turpentine, acetone), seemed to make no difference and I thought the fibres must have been damaged by solvent. However, I found the tip was restored after using paint stripper!
    To me, this implies that the paint bonds with the synthetic, (at least this type of synthetic), more readily than it does to natural hair. I'm no chemist though.

    I have also seen quite a few complaints about synthetics not lasting very long at the 'Painting Best Practices' group on Facebook.

    Ron Francis

    2018-04-07 23:20:08
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Trekell makes high quality synthetic brushes. I really enjoy how they handle paint. On the  recent Savvy Painter podcast there is a Q and A episode with the owner and specialist discussing their brushes and panels. Give 'em a try. 

    2018-04-07 23:33:18
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks so much Matthew, Kristen, Ron, and to the poster who suggested Trekell. Kristen, to answer your question, I work directly as opposed to in glazes but thin my paint with Gamsol and linseed oil until it brushes on smoothly. I try to strike a balance of fluidity and opacity. I also work on a very smoothly sanded acrylic or oil ground. My paintings have gestural passages which fade into flat color fields and surface is an important component. For the gestural passages, I like to use soft, round brushes that maintain a nice point. In the flatter color fields, I use larger, soft, flat brushes. Because of the way the transitions are composed though, the round brushes make up some of the color fields before the flat brushes take over. I'll often have over ten brushes going in a single painting to help me keep the colors clean. Like Ron mentioned, synthetic sable brushes start out nice and then get easily splayed which is frustrating. Sable is cost prohibitive because I use so many brushes, and I also prefer not to use animal products. I will look into synthetic mongoose and Trekell brushes, and try cleaning my splayed burshes with paint stripper.  Thanks again! -Aliza

    2018-04-14 14:14:37
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    For synthetic brushes, I happen to like: Escoda (Versatil), Raphael (Kevrin) and actually Princeton's new Aspen series. I mainly use synthetics with only the background done in bristle hair brushes. These can be ordered online via Jerry's Artarama and Dick Blick. If you are in the NYC metro area, Jerry's Intenational Palette Shop has the Escoda and the Raphael. Blick stores seem to now carrier the Princeton Aspen and may carry  the other two depending on the store.

    I have heard really good things about Rosemary & Co's best synthetic bristle. Not sure what it is called but it is on their website.

    good luck and enjoy! - Karmen

    2018-04-23 19:18:45

Page Settings and MetaData:
(Not Shown on the Page)
Page Settings
MetaData for Search Engine Optimization
MITRA Forum Question Details
This page cannot be accessed until you accept the Terms of Use, which can be found here.
Please note that this Terms of Use system uses cookies. If you have cookies disabled you will not be able to accept the agreement. If you delete our cookies you will need to re-accept the Terms of Use.
  • The Department of Art Conservation
  • 303 Old College
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-3489