Old Holland, I want to forgive you

I explain why I banished Old Holland from my palette in this post. Even though I rate Old Holland’s oil paint the best in my Oil Paint Reference, their prices are so absurdly high that I refuse to use them. Besides, there is plenty of reasonably-priced vendors out there, such as RGH and Blue Ridge.

But lately, I have to acknowledge that their sable oil-painting brushes not only perform well but are a bargain. The size 8 (black brush shown in this photo) is an excellent performer and, due to its shape, very well balanced. It’s the only brush in this photo of oil-sables that has the characteristic pot belly. It’s beautifully made and a joy to hold.

It’s also rugged. I’ve used this particular brush a lot already, including today, and it’s kept its shape. Oil paint murders sables but Old Holland’s series 7001 sables hold up surprisingly well, better than most other brands with which I’m familiar. The only brand that is more rugged is from the defunct Pearl (red brush). The dark-tan Princeton brand is inferior to Old Holland in both performance and sturdiness. And it’s more expensive! The generic, Russian-manufactured, light-tan brush is better than the Princeton brush, but inferior to Old Holland.

At $14.00 online for the #8, Old Holland is a terrific bargain.

The Old Holland sable brush is excellent for oils, but it’s inferior to a good watercolor brush. Keep to watercolor-intended brushes for watercolors. A good watercolor brush properly maintained will last for years. The same brush used for oils will deteriorate in rapid fashion.

By providing such great a great bargain for artists, I can forgive Old Holland a tiny little bit for their paint price gouging. 

Anatomy of a brush:



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  1. Pingback: Death of a brush

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