Going a little squirrely

In my last post, I mentioned the Squirrel Mop brush, favoured by the likes of Alvaro Castagnet, Art Cunanan and others. I've had my eye on these for some time and thanks to the InterNet, I have been able to search around for both product and price.

The Davinci brushes were thought to be discontinued, but I found them on Amazon.com which lists all the sizes. (They are also available from various U.S. suppliers. I could not locate a local (Toronto) source, though.

Curry's offers the Yarka version in two sizes, #4 and #8 at very competitive prices, and AboveGround has the Winsor and Newton brushes, also at good prices. I decided to go for a #10 W&N, but finally settled for a #8, (thanks Santa), which is plenty large enough for my purposes at present.

Now comes the breaking-in period. Not for the brush itself, but for me. I knew about its water carrying capacity but I wasn't prepared for its floppiness. I guess I have not had enough experience with expensive sable brushes, since my original mop was faux squirrel which is not the same thing at all! The Russian blue squirrel mop is really soft and I understand now why Mr. Castagnet writes:
“To me a great brush is the one that allows you ” to dance ” on the paper, the one that is flexible but at the same time shows sensitivity and character in every stroke with lots of passion.”
Well, I have been trying to "dance" with the brush, holding it lightly at the very tip, but I kept dropping it (the handle is highly polished and slippery). I have now wound an elastic band around the handle and haven't dropped it since. I may regret that, since some of the unintended consequences were quite interesting.

Serendipity: I borrowed a DVD from the Toronto Watercolour Society's library this week - "Solving the Mystery of Watercolour" by David Taylor. He is an Australian painter who works very much in the style of Alvaro Castagnet and a fellow Aussie, Joseph Zbukvic. The serendipity effect is that the DVD shows him working extensively with these mop brushes, large and small. I am studying it carefully...

When I manage to develop something that deserves the light of day, I will post it here. Don't hold your breath.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays everyone and Merry Painting.


  1. Interesting information Tony. I too have considered flopping around with the squirrel mop. I will wait, however, for further encouraging tips from you.


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