Finding good quality synthetic brushes locally can be difficult, so when I used to buy from Jerry’s Artarama in America, I added a few sets of Creative Mark Ebony Splendor brushes to my orders (as well as Creative Mark Beste brushes, which I’ll review in another post). The RRP of the sets ranges from about $40-50 (USD) depending on the type, but every time I see them on the site, they always seem to be on sale for $13-16 per set. I think when I got them, they were even cheaper at about $10 for each set. I have the Short Handle Wash and Round sets and the Long Handle Bright and Round sets, but there are also Filbert sets available. The Short Handle Wash set included three brushes while the other sets all contained 6-8 brushes; I can’t remember the exact numbers as I’ve had them all mixed in with my other various brushes for a while now. Here are my Ebony Splendor brushes in my Jackson’s brush case.
Though I’ve got them all together here, I use the long handle brushes for acrylics, while the short handle brushes live in my watercolour brush case. The dark red wooden handles with gold print and black tips and ferrules make these brushes look quite stylish. The synthetic hairs are soft enough to be used for delicate washes but also springy enough to produce more textured marks if you’re using heavy-bodied acrylic paint. They’d probably work well with oil paints as well but I haven’t tested them with oil paints (I got a few individual brushes solely for use with my oil sticks as once you use a brush with oil-based mediums, you can’t use it for water-based mediums).
I’ve had these brushes for a couple of years now, and even with heavy use, they are still in reasonably good condition, with the rounds retaining their nice points and the flats mostly keeping a sharp edge. A lot of this is probably because I look after my brushes; I always rinse them thoroughly once I’m done using them, I don’t leave them in a jar of water with the point down (which can damage or misshape the bristles) and if I notice them getting a bit stained or gungy, I give them a proper clean with my Masters Brush Cleaner. After a year or two, many of my brushes end up looking a bit tired and ratty, even with proper care, but the Ebony Splendor brushes seem to be a lot more sturdy and durable.
If you can get your hands on these brushes, I’d definitely recommend it. In my opinion, they are worth it even at the full retail price, but for the equivalent of $15-20 AUD which they usually seem to be on sale for, these brushes are a steal. They are definitely the best synthetic brushes I have used so far and I am glad I got multiple sets when I had the chance. It’s just a shame they only seem to be available from Jerry’s Artarama in the US and are therefore almost impossible for Australians to get their hands on without paying the exhorbitant postage costs.