Animal-friendly brushes

January 1, 2014 by Diane Marcotte

Although I find it difficult to find art supplies that do not include some animal or animal by-product I strive to use those that are produced without any animal suffering.  Thankfully there are many brands of synthetic brushes on the market.  A future post will look at paints and substrates.

My Favourite Brushes

 Michael Wilcox School of Colour brushes:

I’ve been using these brushes for years for watercolour. They hold lots of pigment, have plenty of ‘spring’ and keep their points.  I order mine online and shipping costs are minimal.  Check them out at 

 Michael Wilcox says “Few artists realise that the Kolinsky is on the endangered species list. They should! If you wouldn’t wear it, why paint with it? For this reason, and because of the method of killing, we will only ever offer synthetic brushes.  To this end we spent many years searching for an alternative to the animal product. A recent break-through by a small UK company has given us what we feel is a synthetic brush that is as close as it gets to the most expensive ‘Kolinsky’.

 Sterling Edwards’ brushes:

I discovered these brushes a couple of years ago. Good synthetic bristle brushes are hard to find but Sterling’s bristle brushes are ideal for blending edges and glazing in watercolour.  They are also excellent for applying heavier concentrations of acrylic paint. The beveled end of the round brushes is perfect for scraping or applying masking fluid. The flat brushes have a thin profile that allows for fine details and straight edges. The brushes are available for purchase at

 Other Synthetic Brushes I like:

 Liquitex Free Style brushes:

H. J. Gold Sable (a dyed rayon Taklon filament)

Faux Squirrel 1827 by Dynasty

Snap by Princeton

 Others I have yet to try:

 Cotman – Watercolour & Gouache:

Monarch – Oil & Acrylic:

Galleria – Acrylic & Oil

Da Vinci Impasto brushes – Oil & Acrylic




  1. Doris says:

    Thank you so much Diane for this important information! It is a real eye-opener!

    I hope all artists will consider the source of their materials and choose those which do not involve cruelty.



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