Along with the growth of painting techniques, brushes have also evolved in a variety of ways.
Especially in Asian art, as the word "書画 (Shoga, which means paintings and calligraphic works)" indicates, there are many examples where “書” (Sho, calligraphic letters) and “画” (Ga, paintings/pictures) are expressed on a single canvas.
Therefore, brushes with different bristles were needed, not only for writing but also for painting.
In Western art cultures, with the rise of water-based painting such as animal glue, the establishment of oil painting, and the invention of tube paints, a different lineage of brushes was created compared to Asian art.
Well of course, “what brushes to use for what kinds of artworks?” The question can be answered in any number of ways depending on the ingenuity of the artist.
Brushes for Asian art may be used for oil painting, or conversely, you can also use watercolor brushes to paint with Saiboku (colored Sumi ink).
Such a brush, however, there are too many different types to choose from. Have you ever had this kind of problem?
In this article, we would like to introduce some of the paintbrushes we carry in PIGMENT TOKYO from the idea of raw wool.
Looking for your favorite paint brushes, not only from an Asian/Western art perspective, but also to find out which brushes are best suited to your work as materials.
The wool commonly referred to as goat hair is made from Chinese goat hair.
The biggest difference between Chinese and Japanese goat hair is that Chinese goat hair bristles become more flexible and elastic the more you use them.
The characteristics of the bristles will also vary depending on which part of the goat’s body part has been used.
The hair on the body is soft and contains water very well while the hair on the tail is more firm.
Goat hair brushes are mainly used in Japanese painting and calligraphy.
Therefore, flat brushes and paint brushes can also be used for oil and acrylic paints, and there are also special flat brushes for design purposes.
Use only weasel tail hair.
Weasel hair is usually soft and firm and can absorb water with ease, making them ideal for brushes.
Moreover, weasel hair bristles have a sharp point and can draw fine lines beautifully, and it is commonly used in painting and calligraphy. Kolinsky is the best quality and most expensive type of weasel hair.
There are two types of Tanuki hair: The one that is made in Japan and China.
Japanese Tanuki hair bristles are known for the good quality and are mainly used for Menso-fude (fine brushes )and Kegaki-fude (line drawing brushes), but because they are rare, Chinese raccoon dog hair is commonly used as well.
The hair on the back is called "黒狸, Kuro-tanuki (black raccoon dog)" and the hair on the chest is called "白狸, Shiro-tanuki (white raccoon dog)," and because the characteristics of the bristles will vary depending on the hair of different Tanuki’s body part, there are all kinds of ways to use them.
The tips of the Tanuki hair bristles are usually very thin, so unless you add more bristles to the belly, the brush might end up too soft to be used.
On the other hand, if the tips are thicker, by adding more or cut off some bristles, you can draw hard and sharp lines.
As a soft Tanuki hair, it is widely used for oil painting and watercolor brushes.
The texture of Squirrel hair is thin and very soft, and it holds water better than any other natural animal hair.
Squirrel hair is mainly used for watercolor, makeup brushes, etc.
Pig hair is known for its hardness, unique elasticity and durability, mainly used for oil painting brushes.
Chinese pig hair is commonly used because of their high quality.
There are many species of deer, and their hair texture varies depending on the area where they are found.
Because of the hard texture, deer hair is more difficult to keep all the bristles together compared to other animals' hair, so it is often used for the belly and tips of the brush.
Sambar deer, a very vulnerable species that can be found in Southeast Asia has the hardest fur of them all, but because it’s a protected endangered species, the importation of Sambar deer has now been banned under the Washington Convention.
The Sambar deer hair brushes that can be found in the market today are made from the early-purchased raw hair before the convention had signed.
Cat hair brush is soft and the tips of the bristle are very puffy, and when the brush is covered with paint, the tips curl up, so it is also called “玉毛 (Tamage)”.
The white cat hair in particular is known for its high quality and is the most widely used, but it is a very expensive raw material due to its extremely limited amount.
Cat hair brush has unique characteristics, however, it is highly consumable and has a short life span.
Nylon hair has high elasticity and is relatively inexpensive because it can be mass-produced.
Although Nylon hair brush has become very versatile with the popularity of alkyd resins, it is mainly used for acrylic paints.
As technology has improved, the shape and appearance of the bristles have been modified to reproduce a texture and drawing feel similar to natural animal hair.
Nylon hair is used not only for acrylic paints but also for oil painting, tole painting, etc.
Moreover, It is sometimes used as a substitute for natural animal hair that is no longer available due to the Washington Convention or other animal protection regulations.