swatching all my gouache brushes: 2022 inventory, cleaning and maintenace!

This post is all about my gouache brushes… an inventory of all my paint brushes, how to clean paint brushes, and a list of the types of brushes I have and the marks that you can make with them. Enjoy!

Also, doesn’t our dog look cute in the thumbnail image?! He was very clingy when I was taking photos so I had to leave him in!

You can also watch on and subscribe to my YouTube channel. There are subtitles available, and the transcript is below if you need to read as well as watch. I’d love to hear what you think, so leave a comment here or on youtube, or email me. Sign up to my email list as well for more at

I am not sponsored by any brands and nothing has been gifted by brands either (just some presents from friends and family).

Just ask any questions you might have in the comments! I’ll do my best to help you out.


The first thing I need to do is collect all my brushes from my art cart, and then the ones I was using today from the desk where they’re chilling in my brush-rests. As you can see many of them are pretty dirty and some need fixing. I definitely think that some of the brushes are rather the worse for wear. This one in particular has quite a few hairs sticking out. Some brushes have gunk stuck on them. So yeah, a fairly decent cleaning job needed. 

I use a bowl of clean, warm water and a separate bowl of warm soapy water – I just use gentle had soap. I dump all the brushes in the soapy water. Obviously, if you have some very expensive wooden brushes, you should not do this. Most of my brushes have some sort of coating on the handle and generally won’t be affected by a dunking. I use my hands to gently rub off any paint on the brush handle and tips. As you can see, sometimes the coating comes off if it’s an older brush, but then it doesn’t really matter or affect my use of the brush so I leave it as is. Once I have taken off most of the gunk, I put the brush into the clean warm water and leave it there. 

Most of the brushes just need a light wash. Some of them need a little bit more work. For this, I keep a special toothbrush which I only use for jobs like this. Not all the dirt will come off because I’ve had many of these brushes for years and years and years and it’s quite ingrained now. I wish I worked this fast in reality! Once I clean them all, I take a fresh bowl of warm water and rinse any remaining soap off, making sure all the bristles are neatly shaped. They all get lined up on a towel and sorted according to brush type. Then I wash my hands and move on to the next step. 

All my brushes are now grouped by type: thin round brushes, round brushes*, flat brushes, a single fan brush, liner brushes* and my lovely angle shaders*. 

I inspect each of them carefully, checking for problems. This brush that I showed you before has some hair sticking out. It’s still alright so I might just trim off these hairs and continue to use the brush. A few of them have gunk stuck on – some are retrievable and some are not so I need to just tidy them up as much as possible. In the end, these are the brushes that I have issues with and the rest of them are all fine. 

Now to take out my stash of new brushes from my backups. I only need to take out a few. I think the first is this filbert brush which is a smaller size than the one that I already have. I don’t need a middling-size of these but the smaller one will come in handy. Then a thin round brush, medium size pointy round brush and a skinny liner brush and that’s all I need to take out. So here they are, all Daler-Rowney. The first one is the Cryla round, size 4*. A System 3 filbert, also size 4*, then a Dalon round 0*, and a 10/1 liner brush*. I will put a link to the details of all the brushes in this video in the description box below. 

Now I’m starting off swatching with the flat brushes, from the thickest 1/2 inch brush to the thinnest 1/4 inch one.

Next are the filberts* which give a lovely rounded feel to your strokes.  I have two of these, one’s is a thicker one and this one’s the new one* that I just took out.

Here’s a fan brush. Very useful for doing foliage and other details like that. It’s great when used as a dry brush texture.

My favourite brushes are the angle brushes*. This one has some gunk stuck on it but I think I can still use it for texture. I couldn’t get the muck off. This is my absolute favourite brush. It’s a Daler-Rowney system 3 angle shader brush*. 

This one here is a really thick round mop brush*, which is usually used for watercolour, but I tend to use it for very light gouache washes. A really nice feel to it and it gives you a nice line too. Now on to the thinner round brushes*. This one has a bit of a damage just where I place my hand so I’m going to tape it. Normally I wouldn’t bother but with this one it was poking my hand – there we go and that’s that. I might have to replace it at some point with a bit more waterproof stuff, but it’s okay for now. And that’s the stroke you get from it. As I go on, the brushes get thinner and thinner and thinner. Here’s the new Cryla one that I just took out.

These handmade squirrel hair brushes* I got from the wonderful miniature painters in Jaipur, India more than 25 years ago, when I was a teenager. I’m afraid nobody can get them now unless you actually go and talk to the painters and actually study with them. They’re brilliant for detailed work.

Another thin brush. I use these for details and to create the little dashes that you often see in my paintings. They’re great for outlines and also some crosshatching too.

This one is the new Daler-Rowney thin round brush* I took out. Ha, this is just a round brush that was out of order. And back to the thin brushes we go! 

Here’s another of those Jaipur brushes. It’s a liner brush with a curved tip and it can be used in both directions. You can get a super thin line and you can also get some really good textures with it. I use it for striping, mostly.

This one is the Daler-Rowney liner brush* that I took out. I think it’ll come in really, really handy. The last one is the only Winsor & Newton brush* I have for gouache and it’s a sable-hair. I just need to make sure that I wash it thoroughly after use. 

I really haven’t done a brush swatch page like this in quite a while. So it’s nice to refresh my own memory of all the brushes that I use for gouache because I tend to use the same favourite, reliable ones over and over again. I’ve written out what swatch is which brush so that I can refer to it later. Please feel free to pause the video during these close ups to get a closer look, and take the time to make a note of any brushes you found interesting. Which are your favourites? Leave a comment below. Here’s the whole page and the brushes I used for each swatch lined up correctly. I’ll list them all for you and put a link in the description box as well, of course!

Now it’s time to put back all my brushes into my little container. They’re all looking neat and clean and tidy and I can’t wait to work with them again. Undoubtedly, they’ll be out of order and a bit mucky within a few days, but that’s life, isn’t it?! 

If you found this video interesting or useful, please do click the like button and subscribe to my channel for more art videos and vlogs all year long! You will probably see these very brushes in action in most of them! I’d also love to hear your suggestions of the kind of videos you’d like to see on my channel. 

Now I’ve already shown you what’s in my art cart which is where these brushes live. So I’ll link that video for you to go and watch next if you’d like to. Thank you so much for watching and I will see you in my next video in a fortnight. Bye!

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