I had noticed a certain brush kept popping up in sketching circles, but it took me a while to track it down. After a lot of sleuthing, I finally discovered that the brushes are made by Loew Cornell and are part of their La Corneille line.
I also discovered that they are super cheap! Since I'm always on the hunt for great sketching tools at great prices, I decided to order these brushes to try with watercolor. I've been using them for a few months now, so I thought it was time for a review!
[Review contains affiliate links. Much thanks!]
The Name Game
The names of these brushes (yes, names... note the plural) can be a bit confusing. The brushes I noticed are often called Loew Cornell Golden Taklon, but so are several other brushes made by Loew Cornell because that just refers to the bristles' material.
The brushes are also referred to as Loew Cornell Series 7020, but technically that series number refers only to the Ultra Round shape. The same brush in a round is a Series 7000, the liners are Series 7350, and so on. (More on this below.)
Loew Cornell calls the brushes La Corneille Golden Taklon, but that's a mouthful so I understand the abbreviated references. No wonder many folks simply call them the Loew Cornell red and blacks, which is the color of the handle, but again, it's confusing because that's only the Series 7020 (or ultra rounds). Series 7000 (round) have all black handles.
Plus, Loew Cornell also makes other La Corneille brushes that are black and gold. However, the black & gold handles are made from acrylic; the red and black along with the solid black handles are made from wood.
If you are a sucker for details - and more confusion - Loew Cornell also hyphenates their company name... sometimes. I didn't even try to figure this one out!
Loew Cornell Series 7000 & 7020
I decided to concentrate on these two series because a well-performing round is nearly essential for watercolor painting.
If you have decent round in your hand, you can paint almost anything, from detail work to full washes.
Besides the shape of the head and the color of the handle, both of these series are identical. Both have Golden Taklon bristles (which is a dyed synthetic), short wooden handles, and nickel-plated ferrules.
Here’s what ordered:
Loew-Cornell La Corneille Golden Taklon Series 7020 (Ultra Round) Size 10
Loew-Cornell La Corneille Golden Taklon Series 7000 (Round) Size 12
Ultra Round vs Round
These descriptions can also be a bit confusing. The shape of the bristles on the round actually look... rounder. The round has a thick ferrule that holds a nice fat bunch of bristles that taper into a point.
The ultra round bristles' shape is longer and leaner with an excellent point. Even though the ultra round isn't as thick as the round, this brush held a surprisingly decent amount of pigment and water. As you can see in the photo below, I performed a wash with both of these brushes with no problems.
I thought I could tell more of a difference in how the round and the ultra round perform. I can get slightly sharper details with the ultra round, and the round holds more pigment and water. Also, the round's big belly paints a bit softer, and the ultra round has a stiffer feel.
Do you like big washes, loose sketches, and working wet? Go with the round. Do you like lots of detail, paint small, or prefer dry brushing? Go with the ultra round.
Speaking of stiffness... though both of these brushes are far from stiff, their synthetic textures are more compatible with a firmly bristled watercolor brush, like sable, than a softer bristle like squirrel. Painters that prefer a super soft or mop brush may be sorely disappointed in the LC brushes.
For more info on testing watercolor brushes, Bruce at Handprint has a fantastic article on what to look for in a quality brush.
Because these brushes are so economical, I wasn't expecting great performance. However, they are quickly winning me over. For the price, I think they perform extremely well.
The more I paint with these brushes, the more I like them.
Yes, they are synthetics. Like all synthetics, they don't always have a steady release and tend to dump water onto my paper, but I can work with this. They hold a lot of pigment and wick up extra water quickly. The bristles spring back immediately, and the point holds its shape well.
I'm all about quality tools, so in regards to watercolor, I haven't found anything that beats a well made, natural hair brush. However, these Loew Cornell brushes only cost a fraction of the price of a natural bristle brush, so I won't be heartbroken if I accidentally leave it in the field or my cat pulls it off my desk for a romp through the house.
In closing, I found the Loew Cornell La Corneille Golden Taklon brushes a fantastic, extremely budget-friendly option for watercolor painting. I recommend them for artists who are on a tight budget and prefer a stiffer brush.
Interested in trying them out yourself? You can see more brushes in the series here.