Find out Becky Samuelson's verdict on Jackson's Studio synthetic brushes, as she puts them through their paces.

I was recently sent a wonderful selection of Jackson’s highly popular Studio synthetic brushes to trial.

The set comprised of the following brushes, along with an easel case – a clever free-standing brush holder.

  • Pointed Rounds, Series 505, Nos. 24, 16, 10, 6, 4, 2 and 3/0
  • Flats, Series 506, 2in. (50mm), 1in. (25mm) and 1⁄2in. (12mm)
  • Riggers, Series 503, Nos. 4, 2 and 0

Jackson’s Studio synthetic Riggers, Rounds and flats, plus Jackson’s Icon sable synthetic brush.

I began by putting all the Studio brushes through their paces, looking at the marks each made, how much paint they held and the control that was possible. They felt nice to hold and it soon became evident that these are quality brushes.

They are made with top-quality synthetic, each with a silver ferrule and a good-sized black handle. The take up and release of paint was excellent, and with the ability to hold a lot of paint and a good spring in the fibre, I was able to control precisely the marks I wanted. Even with the largest Round (No. 24) fine detail was possible and I painted continuously without having to refresh the brush.

The Round brushes notably have fabulous points so that fine, detailed and full-bodied washes were easily carried out in one stroke. Each offered excellent control and there was no struggle with creating a variety of strokes. The ability to draw with a brush is important and these facilitated drawing easily.

The Riggers and flat brushes performed equally well. Don’t be afraid of using a larger brush! I am very fond of flat brushes and the 2in. wash brush’s comfortable flat handle offered a distinct advantage for laying fresh and fast washes.

It’s easy to see why these brushes are so popular. They offer great quality matched by excellent affordability.

Watercolour brush banner

Using Jackson's Studio synthetic brushes

Jackson's Round and Rigger plus the 2in. flat wash brush

The Old Railway Line, watercolour on Bockingford 140lb paper, (28x28cm)

Brush used

Colours used

  • New gamboge
  • Yellow ochre
  • Raw umber
  • Ultramarine blue
  • Cobalt blue

Discover Jackson's full range of Artist Watercolour paints on their website here.

Prior to painting, I masked out a few leaf shapes then using the large 2in. flat wash brush I wet the whole paper and covered the sky in cobalt blue and the mid green areas in mixes of cobalt, ultramarine and new gamboge. The advantage of using this one brush was the speed with which the area was covered. This meant I could add further paint while it was all still fresh and wet, allowing me to lay washes and maintain the freshness, which is very tricky if your brushes are too small!

Once the washes were dry, I laid in the main trees and branches using mainly the Nos. 24 and 16 Round brushes with mixes of yellow ochre, raw umber and ultramarine blue. Both were excellent for speed and freshness. The pointing ability of these brushes is first rate; even very fine branches and twigs could be achieved with the larger brushes.

I laid another earthy green wash either side of the path with cobalt blue and yellow ochre, and allowed it to dry. I then developed the trees with the Riggers. Riggers are great for anything that requires a long, extended and controlled brushstroke, and not just for rigging on boats! I very much enjoyed using them and they did exactly what I asked them to do. Much of the detailed foreground was painted in layers with the Round No. 16.

A larger brush holds more and wetter paint, which means that you can work around the whole subject, linking passages of colour without running out of colour. Similarly I found the No. 24 good for the larger trees, as it allowed a continuous brushstroke.

Jackson’s Studio Flat, Round and Riggers

Venetian Building, watercolour on Bockingford 140lb paper, (27x27cm)

Brushes used

Colours used

  • Yellow ochre
  • New gamboge
  • Light red
  • Cobalt blue
  • Cadmium red

Watercolour paint banner

I began Venetian Building by using the flat 1in. wash brush to wet the paper and block in the background wall colour using a mix of yellow ochre and light red.

The ½in. brush was ideal for the smaller areas between the windows. I love the flat brushes; they handled beautifully with excellent release and control. They also made shapely marks using both the flat surface and the edge, and were really good for blocking in colour.

Using cobalt blue, new gamboge and cadmium red to make various blue and blue-green greys and Round brushes Nos. 10 and 16 I painted the detail around the windows and the balconies then picked up the Rigger for the fine detail. The shadow colours were made from cobalt blue and light red. These brushes have superb control. The point is excellent and, with the amount of paint each holds, makes the brushstrokes so easy to complete.

Jackson’s Icon sable synthetic, No. 10

White Cottages, watercolour on Canson Moulin du Roy watercolour paper, (22x22cm)

Brushes used

Jackson’s Icon sable synthetic, No. 10. This brush is truly versatile, as it managed both the larger wash areas and the smaller detailed areas.

I also want to mention one other brush of the many that Jackson’s produces. This is the Icon sable synthetic watercolour brush, which is a blend of synthetic and sable.

The fibres in these brushes are treated in such a way that allows for greater holding of colour while removing static electricity, which makes brush hairs stick together.

By mixing natural sable with these fibres, Jackson’s has created a brush that behaves like pure sable, but at a fraction of the price. If you want to treat yourself, why not add one of these to your Studio synthetic set?

I do hope my insight into these brushes has been of help to you and encourages you to buy Jackson brushes for yourself!

Jackson’s Studio synthetic watercolour brushes are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. For more details and to view the whole range, visit Jackson's website.

Discover Jackson's brushes

Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products.

This product report is taken from the June 2016 issue of Leisure Painter