Fine Art Brush Tips: Natural Brush Hairs

IPC Large soft oval brush, made from black goat hair
When it comes to choosing what brushes to use, an artist has to consider the medium, their own style, and then look to what is available.  With brushes, the first choice is bristle or hair.  If the choice is hair, then the second choice is whether to use synthetic or natural.  As the market develops, synthetics are becoming more durable, more realistic and more affordable.

However, if you are a traditionalist, or just an interested party, the natural hair selection is something to consider and understand.  I have created a table below outlining all of the types of the natural hair available, short descriptions and then the brushes from Dynasty that would work for those natural hair choices. 

Dynasty has high standards for it's brushes, taking pride in protecting our environment and endangered species, so any hairs used in our natural brushes are taken as a by-product of another industry from animals not endangered.  However, the synthetics mentioned as substitutes for natural hairs are specifically engineered to match those hairs, holding true to the properties of those animals.  You'll be amazed at the resulting brushes.

Hair Type Medium Description
Dynasty Brush
Badger oil Hairs are thinner at roots with bellies near the tip providing a bushy appearance.  Known for blending oils, very soft tufts.  The best are high mountain badger, found near the Pyrenees; however, badger hair is found worldwide.

Boar or Hog
oil & acrylic; house painting Bristles are technically hog hair.  Bristles are flagged or split at the ends; high quality brushes are interlocked with natural bristles curving inward.  Only natural or bleached white bristles are used for fine artist brushes. The highest quality are from the Chunking region in China.
Interboro or Beau Blanc
Camel watercolor Not actually from camel, but rather from a mix of other animals:  squirrel, goat, ox or pony.
Camel Hair Watercolor
Fitch oil & porcelain painting Closely related to the Ferret, a member of the weasel family.  Very fine hair, highly resilient conical shape, similar in quality to the red sable. 
Mongolian sable
Goat watercolor mops & dry media Wavy along the entire hair length.  Two types available, the single drawn has the natural tip and the double drawn are hairs cut in half, so they lose the natural tip.  Taken from all parts of the animal, exported from China.
IPC large soft oval
Kolinsky Sable oil & watercolor Highest quality hair available, large belly and long hairs hold lost of fluid in painting.  Only the tail hairs from the Kolinsky are used, male hairs are longer than females and more resilient.  The highest quality brushes are made solely from male.  The golden brown hairs have excellent snap and resilience.

Kolinsky Sable or Faux Kolinsky
Mongoose oil & acrylic Strong resilient pointed hairs that wear well, but not fine enough for watercolor.  Also known as royal sable or crown sable. Since Mongoose is endangered, no mongoose hair is used in FM Brushes. 

Mongolian Sable
Ox lettering & watercolor Hair from the insides of cow's ears.  It is cylindrical, not coming to a point, but resilient and has a strong snap.  Primarily used for flat brushes or mixed with squirrel for sign painting.
Dynasty Series 2300 watercolor
Pony or Horse-body acrylic, tempera, watercolor Cylindrical hair that is more expensive than goat, but less than squirrel.  Has a dull matte finish but strong and soft, though not as strong as goat.  It does not point well, and often used for school grade brushes or cosmetic brushes. 
Art Education Brushes
Sabeline watercolor & calligraphy Ox hair that has been bleached and dyed to resemble red sable.
Faux Sable or Dynasty Series 2300 watercolor
Squirrel watercolor, ink & calligraphy Grey Squirrel is from Russia and in short supply; Brown Squirrel is usually for school grade brushes, fine thin hairs that point well.  Very little snap.
Faux Squirrel or Pure Squirrel Quills
Weasel, Pahmi or Red Sable oil or acrylic Similar in working properties to Kolinsky sable, but shorter hairs and more affordable.  Only weasel hair from Asia is long enough for brush-making; like Kolinsky, they have conical shapes and good points.
Mongolian Sable or Pure Red Sable

Keep Painting,

For more brush information, check out the Dynasty Brush website.