As I continue to explore compact travel watercolour brushes, I discovered Rosemary & Co. They are a company based in England and have been making artist brushes for more than 30 years.
The brushes in this review are the Rosemary reversible travel watercolour brushes.
Rosemary has a whole set of watercolour brushes with different brush tips, namely,
- R1 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Sable Pointed Size 6
- R2 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Sable Pointed Size 8
- R3 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Sable Pointed Size 10
- R4 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Sable One Stroke
- R5 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Sable Rigger
- R6 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Filbert
- R7 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Comber
- R8 Pocket Pure Kolinsky Mop
- R9 Pocket Pure Squirrel Hair Mop
- R10 Pocket Golden Synthetic Pointed
- R11 Pocket Pure Red Sable Pointed
It's an exciting set compared to other manufacturers, such as Da Vinci and Escoda, who only offer round tips as travel brushes. Check out my review of those brushes, namely Da Vinci Series 1503, Series 910 and the Escoda Reserva. I'll make some brief comparisons in this review too.
For this review, I bought the R1, R2, R3 and R11, as shown above from left to right.
I had bought the R3 Kolinsky Sable and R11 Red Sable just to see what's the difference between the two. There are none significant as far as I'm concern.
Since there are no labels on the brush, I could have mixed up the R3 and R11 brushes and can no longer tell the difference. Their hair looks similar and the size is quite similar as well.
The first thing I recommend when you get the Rosemary brushes is to write the sizes on the body with a marker, and use a tape to protect that writing. You can then easily identify the brushes.
Rosemary's reversible watercolour brushes come in sleek shiny metal bodies. Compared to a traditional wooden pencil, the brush's body is slightly thicker, height slightly longer because of the hair, and weighs slightly heavier. It's a lightweight brush. Da Vinci and Escoda's offerings that feel more substantial.
The brush comes in two parts, the top half with the hair and the bottom half that also doubles up as a cap.
The cap has a small ventilation hole which you may hear other artists say help with air ventilation, but in actual fact is not that useful (same for other brands), so if you need to dry your brush, you should still dry them without the cap.
When dried, if the hair does not stick together, I would put some water to get a sharp point before putting the cap on.
Be more careful when putting the cap on so as not to damage the hair bristles, more so for bigger brushes because the cap's opening is relatively smaller.
Both size 10. Rosemary on the left, Escoda on the right
Quality of the sable hair is fantastic. It's firm and snaps to a point after each stroke on the paper. I do notice that Da Vinci brushes are slightly firmer, in other words, Rosemary brushes are slightly softer. I prefer Da Vinci's firmer hair more but if you don't have two brushes side by side to compare, it does not make a significant difference.
As compared to synthetic hair brushes, the sable hair can hold more water which makes them better for painting washes because you don't have to reload the brush that many times.
You can also flick the brush hard to force out the water easily, something you cannot do with synthetic brushes. With the drier brush, you can use it to collect pools of water on your paper, or clean it and mix new colours.
Below I'm comparing Rosemary sizes 6, 8 and 10. Note that Rosemary brushes are slightly larger.
From the close up on those size 6 brushes, the four on the left, you can see that Rosemary have more volume.
The Rosemary reversible travel watercolour brushes are fantastic and definitely worth the money. They are competitively priced compared to other brands.
The sable hair quality is indistinguishable compared with other brands. Maybe Da Vinci is firmer, but it could be my mind playing tricks. I started out with Da Vinci so I may have a preference for them.
The main difference between between Rosemary travel brushes and others would be the body. If you like lightweight with a uniform body shape, then get Rosemary. Some artists like a more substantial feel and weight, in which case I would probably recommend the Escoda Reserva. Or for the utilitarian plastic aesthetics, then Da Vinci Maestro could be the one for you.
And again, remember to be careful when putting the cap so as not to damage hair. Applies to all brands actually.
Highly recommended. Value for money.
As far as I know, you can only get them on Rosemary's website: