Sunday, March 3, 2013

Product Review: Escoda MARFIL Series Brushes for Acrylic Painters



Escoda MARFIL Series Brushes

A Note from Mr. Escoda

I recently received by post a package addressed to me from Sabadell, Spain, the home of the Escoda brush company. In the package, I was excited to find a set of three new synthetic brushes for acrylic painting, one natural hair cosmetic brush, an Escoda catalogue, and a friendly note from Ricard Escoda. Mr. Escoda, in his note, warned that this new series of brushes for acrylics might be "quite stiff," but that he was happy to allow me to test the product as I requested.

For my tests, I compared these brushes to Escoda's own 2511 brush, Princeton's 6000 and 6200 series, and M. Grumbacher's 4720. Based on the look and feel of these brushes, their durability and the quality of their stroke and line, I would recommend the Escoda MARFIL series brushes for both beginners and experienced painters.

Look and Feel of the Escoda Brushes

 

My first test for these new MARFIL brushes was to compare their "first look" marketability to the brushes I already have. As an artist, I understand that shopping for art supplies is enjoyable, and just examining various art supply options can be inspiring. In the store, I pick up supplies that capture my interest.

When these brushes were placed next to brushes I purchased in the past, I noticed these brushes stand out. They have much brighter handles, both in color and finish, than brushes I already have. Because of their glossy red finish, I would definitely be interested and pick them up for a closer look. The handle felt better in my hand than some of the others because of its smoother surface and shorter distance from flare to brush tip. However, I also noticed that the synthetic bristles do look less glossy and are stiffer than the bristles on brushes I already own, as Mr. Escoda warned. They are certainly not as coarse as boar bristle brushes, but they have a very tight snap, which might discourage some acrylic painters.

All in all, based on the look and feel of these brushes, I would certainly want to handle them in the store, and would likely purchase one or two to test at home.

Testing the Durability of the Artist Brushes


A casual glance was enough to tell me right away that the quality of the crimp for these brushes truly sets them apart from anything else I currently own. As stated in the Escoda catalogue, This is a "design exclusive to Escoda." The importance in the ferrule's crimp is the brush's durability. As they go on to say, "The triple crimping ensures that the ferrule and the handle are perfectly interlocked" (pg. 4). This prevents, in other words, the metal part of the brush from coming off the handle of the brush. As an artist, I can attest that this does happen, especially if a painter leaves brushes soaking in water for any length of time, tugs too harshly on the bristles, or cleans his or her brushes in water that's too warm, which loosens the glue holding poorly crimped ferrules in place.

Additional durability testing included bending the brushes to see if they would break at the ferrule or end of the handle and a few tugs on the bristles to see if they would go awry or come loose. Bending the brushes, both the new brushes and my comparison brushes, made me nervous, but all of the brushes held up to equal amounts of pressure. The tug test results supported the quality of the crimp even further: The bristles on the Escoda brushes did not budge upon tugging, but the ferrule of my M. Grumbacher brush came off the handle.

Based on the quality and durability of these brushes, I would recommend them to beginners and professional painters, alike.

Quality of Stroke and Line


My concern about the stiffness of the bristles could not be addressed until the brushes were put to use. Because the Escoda brushes survived my quality and durability testing, I was able to test their use in an actual painting.

  • First, I tested the Escoda #10 filbert, a style of brush I like to use for blending long strokes. On watercolor paper, the stiffness of the brush lifted too much paint from the surface and did not create an even, blended color. However, on a well-stretched canvas and on a canvas board, the brush performed quite well, and one color blended nicely into the next.

  • Next, I tested the #10 bright, a brush I would use to make hard, even lines. I generally want a stiff brush for this purpose, and it worked well on paper, stretched canvas, and canvas board. Its tight snap allowed it to respond to my pressure without losing the line.

  • Because I do not normally reach for a round brush, I tested the #10 round last. I was pleasantly surprised by this brush because its length softened its snap well beyond the snap of the other two brushes. I played with this brush as a calligrapher might, shifting from wide to narrow lines and strokes easily. Although it was not achieved on paper, I was able to achieve shadow and highlight without lifting the brush from the stretched canvas, but rather rolling the brush as I formed the shape.

Based on the easy-to-achieve shifts in strokes, sharp lines, and use for blending, I would recommend these brushes for painters who paint on stretched canvas or canvas board.

With the exception of my durability tests, I truly enjoyed working with these brushes to provide feedback for artists and art supply stores, alike. They are beautiful brushes that could inspire any painter. More importantly, they are a testament to almost 80 years of Escoda's hand-made excellence.

References


Escoda Sabates, S.A. (n.d.) Catalogue. Retrieved from http://www.escoda.com/?lang=en




Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author fr permission to republish.

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