Friday 24 November 2017

Product Review: Jackson's Studio and Icon Watercolour Brush Sets

STOP PRESS (again)! A little notice for my viewers based outside of the United Kingdom in particular! The brushes in this review are all sold by Jackson's, and they have FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING on brush-only orders valued at £20 (US$27, CAN$34, AUS$35, €23) or over! That is a fantastic deal in my book and should mean you get things well in time for Christmas if you're planning to buy gifts! You can read more about their shipping policies, restrictions and information here.

Continuing from my review of Jackson's Artist Watercolours that I posted yesterday, I have also reviewed two sets of Jackson's Watercolour Brushes from two of their brush lines as follows - I've linked to all of the sets and open stock down below the jump in the "Buy These Products" section, and I've also linked to all the other products used in the video - the paints and paper etc.

The Studio line - intended for students, lower price point, cheaper handles, 100% synthetic, vegan-friendly and come in 4 different variety packs and come as Rounds, Flats, Riggers, Pointed Rounds and One-Strokes (Long Flats). They asked me to review their Set Of 3.

The Icon line - professional quality, higher price point, very nicely balanced satin-finish handles, synthetic-sable mix using a pitted synthetic that holds more water than a standard one. Sold as a Set of 3 (which I reviewed), which I guess is designed to give you a feel of the line and to be a useful set of sizes, but are mostly sold as open stock and come as Rounds, Flats, Quills (I would call them Pointed Mops or Pointed Washes, but some folk call them Quills!) and Mottlers.

I was highly impressed with both lines and I've summarised my views a little but down below in the "Buy These Products" section of this post - but you can watch the video to see how they compare with other brands - I compared them with - I've missed out the super-economy craft sable brushes that I tried out:
ProArte Polar White, Aquafine Goat Mops, Aquafine Sable, Winsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky, ProArte Prolene, ProArte ProlenePlus, ProArte Renaissance Squirrel and Daler and Rowney Graduate line in various fibres, plus probably some others I can't remember right now, but if you saw something in the video and want to buy it, leave a comment below! 

Bottom line - I felt both were great and that the Studio line was perfect for beginners and was more or less as good as Prolene, but as they don't hold a lot of water compared to Prolene or other brands, and they are very economical, they are really beginner-friendly. I do think a beginner should start with something that they can learn the basics with, without needing to worry about water-control too much just yet. The Icon line was comparable with 100% sable brushes or ProlenePlus brushes and the round and quill came to really sharp points. I could see a use for both lines in my own work and the Studio brushes would be great for me for lifting, for glazing when I want to work quite dry and when I just need a brush I don't need to worry too much about damaging as the cost is so low!

Buy These Products

Jackson's "Studio" Watercolour Brushes
These are excellent student-grade brushes and are perfect for beginners through to novices or just folk who want an extra set of cheaper brushes that they can brutalise without too much worry about replacement costs. They're 100% synthetic and have painted wooden handles with a gloss finish. THESE BRUSHES ARE VEGAN FRIENDLY. In the accompanying video, I reviewed the Set of 3.

Set of 3 - 8 Round, 10 Round, 1/2" Flat [Jackson's: £5.50 or US$7.32]
Set of 4 - 2 Round, 4 Round, 6 Round, 4 Rigger [Jackson's: £3.30 or US$4.39]
Set of 8 - 0 Round, 6 Round, 12 Round, 1 Rigger, 1/2" Flat, 1" Flat, 1 1/2" Flat and a black nylon brush case [Jackson's: £13.25 or US$17.63]
Set of 14 - 000 Round, 2 Round, 4 Round, 6 Round, 10 Round, 16 Round, 24 Round, 0 Rigger, 2 Rigger, 4 Rigger, 1/2" Flat, 1" Flat, 2" Flat and a black nylon brush case [Jackson's: £29.50 or US$39.24]
In open stock you can buy:
Pointed Rounds, One-Strokes (Long Flats) and Riggers, Flats and Rounds, starting at as little as £1.05 (US$1.40).

Jackson's "Icon" Watercolour Brushes
These are excellent professional-grade brushes and are very good value. They are a mix of synthetic and sable - the synthetic has been treated to cover it in microscopic pits so that it holds even more water/paint, and it has very good control and snap. They have handles with a satin finish. THESE BRUSHES ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR VEGANS. In the accompanying video, I reviewed the Set of 3.

Set of 3 - 8 Round, 2 Quill (Pointed Mop), 1/2" Flat [Jackson's: £13.20 or US$17.56]
In open stock you can buy:
Pointed Rounds - Size 2 to 12, starting at £2.28 or US$3.03.
One Strokes (Long Flats) - 3mm to 25mm, starting at £2.72 or US$3.62.
Quills (pointed mops) - Size 0000000000 (10/0) to 6, starting at £3.76 or US$5.00.
Mottlers - 25mm to 75mm, starting at £7.44 or US$9.90.

Other products that I used in this video:

Bockingford 140lb A4 (roughly 12"×8") Rough Watercolour Gummed Paper Pad. 12 sheets. [Jackson's: £8.00 or US$10.65] This is the paper I use in this video, and it's my go-to day-to-day paper. Bockingford is made by St Cuthbert's Mill - the same people who brought us Saunders Waterford and Millford watercolour papers - and it is a chemical pulp (wood) paper that is pretty hard wearing and you can do a lot worse than it - it's a great paper for a beginner wanting to step upwards but who's not ready for cotton papers just yet.

Winsor and Newton French Ultramarine Watercolour Paint - PB29 Ultramarine Blue.
The ceramic Large Pan that I was using in this video is from a line that has been discontinued, but you can buy the exact same paint in a range of sizes - it is one of my favourite Ultramarines - it has a huge pigment load and a pan or tube will last you a very long time.
Half-pan [Jackson's: £5.10 or US$6.79]
Full-pan [Jackson's: £6.40 or US$8.52]
5mL tube [Jackson's: £5.10 or US$6.79]
14mL tube [Jackson's: £10.10 or US$13.44]
37mL tube [Jackson's: £17.80 or US$23.69]

Daniel Smith Moonglow - PB29 Ultramarine Blue, PG17 Hydrated Chromic Oxide, PR177 Anthraquinone Red.
This is a lovely effects-paint that looks violet, grey or black depending on how much you use, but with plenty of water it splits into pink, green and blue to varying degrees. It comes in two tube sizes and as a Paint Stick, which can be used just like a pan or can be used dry on the paper somewhat like a pastel.
5mL [Jackson's: £6.80 or US$9.05]
15mL [Jackson's: £12.80 or US$17.03]
Watercolour Paint Stick [Jackson's: £10.90 or US$14.50]

ProArte Brushes - these are the main brush types that I use for comparison in this video - alongside Dalon, Series 007 and a myriad of cheaper brands - but these are the major ones.
Prolene - these are cheaper on the whole and hold less pigment than ProlenePlus and don't come to as sharp a point in terms of Rounds, but are really useful for wetting one's paper or for washes etcYou know which you have as the ferrule is always silver for Prolene. They come in Rounds, One-Strokes (long flats), Swords, Riggers and Fans. The bristles are soft and flexible, without much snap. You can buy the full Prolene line over at Jackson's, individually or in sets - brushes start at £1.52 for a Size 0000 Round (aka 4/0 Round). THESE BRUSHES ARE VEGAN-FRIENDLY.
ProlenePlus - these are higher quality and hold more pigment than Prolene and come to a sharper point. They also have beautiful faux-teak varnished handles. You know which you have as the ferrule is always gold for ProlenePlus. They come in Rounds, One-Strokes (long flats) and Filberts, including retractable travel brushes. The bristles are firm and have good snap. You can buy the full ProlenePlus line over at Jackson's individually or in sets - brushes start at £1.76 for a Size 0000 Round (aka 4/0 Round). THESE BRUSHES ARE VEGAN-FRIENDLY.
Renaissance Squirrel - these are 100% black squirrel hair and are thus not vegan-friendly! They reach a very sharp point and hold a lot of paint or water on the belly, so you can get a lot of mileage before you need to re-load. You can buy sizes 000 (aka 3/0) to 8 from Jackson's but the line does go up to a size 20. Brushes start at £5.04 for a Size 000 (3/0).

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