One year of using Blick’s Masterstroke Interlocking Bristle Brushes

Laura Charles

Illustrator, Artist, & Incurable Doodler

So it’s been a little over a year of using Blick’s highly reviewed Masterstroke Interlocking Bristle Brushes – I bought a range of Blick’s Flat and Filbert brushes in December 2016. For me it has been a pretty heavy painting year, though for a full-time painter, it might be classified as “moderate”. I was so excited when I bought them, I am really partial to copper ferrules, and they were so beautiful when I opened the package! So far I have been pretty well pleased with them, though the time has rolled around for me to replace the smaller brushes. Even the nicest small brushes I have bought usually lose their crispness after a certain amount of time, and the small brushes especially got a lot of abuse. I do wash my brushes with care, using only oil and gentle soap to clean, although there were a few times that I left them longer than I probably should have later in the year, which I am sure contributed to their deterioration. The big flats held their shape extremely well, keeping a nice chisel edge, and are still in really great shape. The smaller ones – size 4 and under are all still ok, but they have mostly hit the “scumbling stage”. I blame myself. One of my resolutions this year is to take better care of my brushes! The Filberts unfortunately were a different story altogether. I started having problems with the Filberts almost immediately after starting using them. About a week into using them almost every brush except for one size 2 started to twist in the center creating a strange wavy edge. This really affected my edge control when using them. I tried taping, pressing with cardboard, and even laying old books on them. In desperation I resorted to buying brush reshaper (which I am currently using to lengthen the life of my Flats) but nothing seemed to stop them from twisting. It was the most bizarre brush issue I’ve ever encountered. I am guessing it has to do with the way they are constructed. I ended up donating almost all of them because they became so useless and I got so annoyed every time I looked at them. It’s possible that I got a bad batch, but it seems really unlikely. On the other hand, I had no issues with shedding, and the ferrules always cleaned well and never rusted (yay copper!) The brushes themselves had a good snap, and excellent edge control. Overall I would recommend the Flats, but definitely not the Filberts.

Some of the paintings that created this year using these brushes – and one shot of the least twisted Filbert brush that I ended up keeping for less detailed work.

For Christmas this year I asked for some new brushes from a highly rated bush company in England called Rosemary & Co. and I actually got some (Mom is the best!) I am really looking forward to trying them out! I got brushes from their Evergreen and Ivory Lines.

I switched brands for a few reasons – I wanted some different things out of my brushes this time – shorter handles which are better for Plein Air painting, and I am also looking to move away from real hair brushes. I was looking into sable brushes when I started reading more about the brush industry in general and I decided that when there are so many great synthetic options available, I don’t really need to buy real hair/fur brushes anymore. To this day, some of my favorite brushes of all time were synthetic Princeton Royals (sadly discontinued) that I only ended up disposing of because their handle coating had apparently reached the end of its lifespan and they all became sticky simultaneously. That was a sad day…  I look forward to letting you know how they perform – check in next week and I’ll give you my first impressions!