Most of us know and love (or have coveted) Da Vinci artist brushes; there is simply no-one that makes a bigger range, of more finely crafted, specialised brushes than Da Vinci, not anywhere. Mark Chapman (our resident Chapman & Bailey art materials maestro) was a guest at the Da Vinci factory in Nuremburg, Germany, in June this year. He was hugely impressed with the high level of skill, and dedicated training required to become a Master Brush Maker at Da Vinci. To start with, the hopeful brush-making novice is apprenticed for 3 to 4 years to get their first taste of this ancient and demanding craft, before then continuing to work and learn under the supervision of a Master Brush Maker for many years to follow; to give you an idea, to be considered sufficiently skilled to tie a brush themselves, they will have trained for 5 to 10 years!

Following their brush-tying initiation, the brush maker needs to attend regular top-up courses at the Institute of Brush-Makers (apologies, not sure of its’ exact name, but Mark believes it may be in Leipzig) , and then, maybe, after 20 years of dedicated toil, you get to call yourself a Master Brush Maker: artist of the idiosyncrasies of Black Sable, Red Sable, Kazan Squirrel, Blue Squirrel, Kolinsky, Tobolsky-Kolinsky, Sabeline, Badger, Hog Bristle, Pony, Ox, Goat…et al

But as every body knows, gorgeous as these brushes are, the truth is that you don’t always need an exquisitely crafted natural- hair brush for every stage of your painting, or at every point of your learning curve. Chapman & Bailey have been fans of Da Vinci brushes for many years and stock a beautiful selection of natural- hair brushes in our art materials shops in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Alice Springs, but now we are very happy to say we also have cheap and cheerful practical budget ranges of Da Vinci synthetics; a brush for everybody and every requirement.

Da Vinci student synthetics are budget- priced brushes, and are very good quality for the cost; they bring all the expertise and exacting German standards of Da Vinci to a basic student grade synthetic brush. The fibre qualities are excellent, with characteristics ranging from super soft to a firm impasto spring. The fibres are long in the ferrule so that they will remain in the brush head, rather than imbedded in your favourite artwork like other inferior budget brushes. The brush points are fine and true, and fibres revert to form nicely. Handles are either rolled, to keep the cost down without compromising the quality of the fibres, or varnished natural timber ,as you prefer: there are rounds, brights, filberts, softer fibres , harder fibres , long handles, and short handles. Whatever works for you!

These modest but honest Da Vinci student brushes are still made in Germany, (in a solar powered factory with its own collecting contemporary gallery and residency program, no less) and are a quality alternative to the made- in- China cheap nasty brush experience; and the pain of ferrules that fall off and split, shedding and curling fibres, and no brush point whatsoever to speak of. Incidentally, Da Vinci student brushes are the best selling educational brushes in Europe, which shouldn’t be a great surprise, although they are still pretty uncommon in Australia.

Anyway, at the end of the day, a brush may be cheap, but never waste your time and efforts with a cheap brush, life is way too short! So please come in and visit us, Alaina, Corinna, and Julia are happy to have a chat, and let you play with different brushes on our amazing magic paper (!) at Chapman & Bailey art materials at 420 Johnston St. Abbotsford (Melbourne), or 14 Byres St Newstead (Brisbane), and 8 Hele Cres Alice Springs.

Or peruse the webshop ……