I watch a few art channels on YouTube, and several of the watercolour artists use Silver Black Velvet brushes. While I know that practice is at least as important as the tools you use (ie. there’s no magic brush that will make you paint better) I did like the look of the brushes, and at the time the only non-synthetic brushes I owned were a Jackson’s Squirrel Mop and a Creative Mark Rhapsody Kolinsky sable I got free with an order from Jerry’s Artarama years ago, so I decided to get one.
The first Silver Black Velvet brush I got was the size 10 round (top brush in the above photo). I liked it so much I later bought the 3/4 inch wash, and then, when I started doing bigger watercolour pieces than the postcard sized works I usually did, I bought a 1.5 inch wash brush as well.
The bristles are a blend of natural squirrel hair and black synthetic fibre, and the combination produces a perfect balance – at least to my mind – between soft and springy. The softness means it’s easy to get subtle, delicate blending, especially wet in wet, and the springiness helps it snap back and keep their shape, so achieving fine controlled marks presents no real challenge. It’s firm enough that you can use it to scrub at dried watercolour for lifting techniques, but soft enough that it won’t damage the surface of the paper. The bristles hold a lot of water or paint, which allows you to paint for longer without having to dip the brush in the water or palette again.
In addition to being wonderful to paint with, these brushes are just really nicely made, and they look good, too. The wooden handles feel sturdy in the hand and the black finish with silver accents makes them look like the high quality painting tools they are.
Unfortunately, buying these brushes will be difficult if you don’t live in America. So far I’ve been unable to find anywhere that sells them in either the UK or Australia, and postage costs from the few US art supply retailers push them into the ‘too expensive’ category. The only way I was able to buy any was from a single seller on eBay. They were still expensive when purchased that way, but no more so than natural bristle brushes purchased from local retailers.
Silver Black Velvet brushes are difficult (and expensive) to find outside of America, but if you can get your hands on them, they are worth every cent. If you’re a watercolour artist and you have some money to spare, you owe it to yourself to at least try one Silver Black Velvet brush.