BRUSH REVIEW: Princeton 'Aspen' Series

I recently received an email from Princeton Brushes this afternoon informing me that I had won their Aspen Brushes Competition Giveaway. I have to say that I was over the moon as I haven't won anything in years!!

Aspen Burshes.png

I had applied to the competition as I had had a spare five minutes, but I never thought for a moment that I might be the winner! Result.

The brushes arrived a couple of days later and were immediately taken with enthusiasm over to the studio to give them a test drive.

I have been using Princeton's Catalyst Series brushes for a while now and they have become the tools that I turn to regularly for their ability to load paint, blend and for their moderate stiffness. They're great brushes and I recommend to anyone looking for a new brush to add to their collection.

The Aspen Series is a more refined creature. As advertised, they hold their shape beautifully and with the short flats, you can pick them up, again and again, knowing that they're going to make the same marks they did the last time you used them.

While I haven't used them outdoors yet, I'm looking forward to the opportunity. Their black ferrule prevents glare from the sun, which if you've painted in those conditions, I know you will appreciate.

While Aspen does do an angled bright in this series, it would be useful to have a dagger or sword version of these brushes added to the collection. Nevertheless, I can highly recommend these brushes to anyone looking for a solid workmate that offers precision and durability.

Here are the link to the Brush pages on the Princeton website:


I'm such a big fan of Rosemary & Co. and would (and have) recommended them to friends and generally, anyone looking for professional, well priced, high-quality brushes that are delivered with customer service that is second to none.

I have for a while now been looking for my 'Ultimate Rigger' brush and had high hopes that Rosemary & Co. would bring that journey to an end.

These are lovely brushes and well worth adding your collection as they can be wonderful mark makers. They are quite soft, with little spring, so they have quite a gentle character to them. Nevertheless, you'll find yourself reaching for them time and again.

However, my elusive 'Ultimate Rigger' needs to be a little more robust, so my search continues...

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To check Rosemary and Co's brushes, head over to:

NEW PAINTING: 10" x 12" MDF board

Another one of the new things that I have been trying out recently, has been painting on MDF boards. Unlike painting on canvas there is no spring, which takes a little getting used to. I've also found that depending on what primer you use, you can establish how easily the paint can be applied to the surface.

Using an Alkyd primer (in several coats) provides a lovely smooth surface ideal for fine detail, especially when you give it a light sand once it's dry. Whereas using Gesso creates a texture more akin to sandpaper (although this can be sanded down too to give a smoother finish).

I have also tried creating a canvas board with these 12"x10"s. I cut a rectangle of canvas that was 2" larger than the board itself and then stuck it to the front of the board, using PVC glue (obviously this was wrapped round the back too and stuck down.

I left it to dry for 24 hours and then came back to it to give it several coats of primer. I have tried canvas boards before but didn't get with them because I found that as the oil dried it would warp the panel. Sadly, this was the same case for these boards. So from now on I just stick to working on the plain primed boards.


I've tried a lot of different brushes over the years, searching for a brand and series of brushes that best communicate my expression. I have finally got my creative mits on the illusive DAS 1180 Series.

These are the brushes that the New Zealand artist John Crump uses and which I've been trying to find a distributor based in the UK or Europe for yonks!

Every type of brush has character and a purpose and are expressed through the combination of the brush's shape, material, length and weight.

I have found the 1180 series to be surprisingly enjoyable brushes to use. They don't have the finesse of some of the other brands that I use, but they brim with personality!  

Even though I had to order them from New Zealand, I wouldn't hesistate in the event of having to orser some more.

PAINTING KIT: Wooden palettes - Information & advice.

Artist palettes are great and essential bits of kit. I've tried out a few other variations of material and shape, but the wooden ones are clearly my favourite.

I enjoyed using the Bob Ross transparent acrylic palette, but found after a month or so of use, it would crack and die within weeks. This happened twice, so I haven't bothered using them again.

A glass palette is an option that I have yet to try, but it's on the list and once I've tried it it I'll review it and let you know my impressions.

I have had my current palette for over twenty years and had never given much thought to its balance or comfort until I ordered and tried the Expressionist Confidant Wood Palette. Unbelieveable! So comfortable, loads of space and made me realise how uncomfortable my old palette was. I can't recomend it enough.

I came across this video and thought I would share it with you as it has a few bits of good info on palettes and show off the Expressionist Confidant Wood Palette.

My old palette.

My old palette.

My new palette.

My new palette.

If you interested in buying one of these palettes, you can find them at Jackson's Art Supplies:

LINK: Great advice for En Plein Air painters.

I've been trolling around the internet over the last couple of months trying to find information and advice for painting outdoors.

I came across this video this morning on a YouTube channel called Thoughts on Painting by Bristol based artist Tom Hughes and it's definitely the most useful and informative clip that I have come across so far.

Tom, an artist based in Bristol, works as an en plein air artist who paints his way around the South West and London, making videos for his YouTube channel as he goes.

Unfortunately, I'm unable to embed the video into this post, so here's the link instead:

PAINTING KIT: Alla Prima - Bitteroot Pochade box

Taking up en plein air painting has been a challenge, but not for the reason you might think. It's not the painting that has been most challenging, but rather the conversion of my equipment from studio to outdoor kit.

I began a while ago by buying a french easel (one of the most popular and recognisable en plein air easels on the market) but found it to be too clunky and ergonomically awkward. So I decided to design and build my own, but again, it still wasn't right.

Still without a suitable solution, I turned to the web again to see if there was another design out there that would be more suited to my needs. I stumbled across a blog forum discussing artist's favorite easels and found several references and a great deal of praise for the 'Alla Prima Pochade Box' made and designed by Ben Haggett from Canada.

I checked out his product video and recognised that here was a man who had spent a great deal of time contemplating and refining his own design.

I have ordered his 10" x 12" Bitteroot Pochade Box which takes between 4-8 weeks for Ben to design, build and deliver. Click HERE for a video introduction and review.

I will do another post with a review of the Bitteroot Pochade Box in several months time.

Alla Prima - Bitteroot Pochade box

Alla Prima - Bitteroot Pochade box