Hake Brush: Making Your Own Mark

When we ran an article entitled “Tools That Are Tried-and-True” in The Artist’s Magazine (November 2011), we received many grateful letters from readers. In light of this, we decided to share another article that’s similar in nature, but this time we’ve taken a narrower focus.

So that you can expand your own repertoire, we’ve asked artists what their favorite implement is for specifically making marks in their paintings. Read about more than 20 out-of-the box tools in our April 2012 issue, in the feature article “Make Your Own Mark.” In the meantime, enjoy this sneak peek at one of watercolor artist Birgit O’Connor’s favorite ways to apply paint.

Using a Hake Brush

by Birgit O’Connor

My tools are very specific and they need to work for me. Every brush I use is extremely Hake Brushimportant to my process, and other options just don’t do it. One of my favorites is a bamboo hake brush (or, as some people call it, the “hate brush” because it can easily lose hair, making it extremely challenging to use). I like this inexpensive brush rather than better-made hakes because of its water-holding ability, its length and amount of hair. Because the hake holds a lot of water, when needed it can deliver more of a puddle than an even layer to the paper surface, and it’s soft enough not to lift the previous layers of color or leave angular lines when glazing color. What’s also nice about the amount of water it holds is that the paper surface will dry more slowly, which can make the process more forgiving. When using the hake brush, the important thing to remember is to keep an eye on the paper surface so it dries evenly to prevent any unwanted blooming.

Tip for Maintaining Your Hake Brush: To prevent a hake brush from losing too many hairs, remove as many loose hairs as possible. Apply a little crazy glue along the bottom of the bristles just along the bamboo handle. Then, use a toothpick or needle to work the glue deeper into the center. The glue should only travel about ¼ inch up the tip of the brush hair, just so the glue can penetrate into the center of the brush. Let it thoroughly dry before using.


Watercolor Essentials eBook by Birgit O'Connor Watercolor moves like no other medium. Just add water, and the pigment takes on a life of its own. Watercolor Essentials by Birgit O’Connor features 33 exercises, from foundational skills to advanced techniques as well as 7 start-to-finish demonstrations. Also includes instruction on tools and materials, brush techniques, color mixing and blending, value and fixing common problems.


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