My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1667: Different Strokes for Different Folks - DecoArt Traditions Brush Review

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 12-10-2015 01:36 PM 647 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1666: Creating for Gifts Part 1667 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1668: 'Tis the Season »

I am finding it kind of hard to decide what to write about these days. As Christmas is quickly approaching, I have been working diligently on some gifts that I am going to be sending out soon. As you can imagine, the gifts are heading for my family and friends, and many of them check in on my blog every once and a while. I do want to have what I am making them a bit of a surprise, so I can't really talk about things. It is a bit of a dilemma. 

We are two weeks away from Christmas, and I believe that my gifts that need to be mailed will be out the door by tomorrow. I think that will allow enough time for shipping, but even if it is a day or so late, I am sure they will understand. I can only hope.

I am really thrilled with how they are turning out as well. It is nice to do something and really feel good about the outcome and about giving it to someone you love. As I am working on each piece, I like to daydream about how much they will like it, and how hopefully it will become something that they will look at and think if me.  It is a very personal. 

While I can't talk about the items themselves at this point, I can mention some of the tools I am using to make these items – My DecoArt Traditions paint brushes. 

I recently obtained a set of these brushes from DecoArt and I cannot tell you how impressed I am with them (and that is saying a LOT!)

I realize that with having woodworking and painting followers, these brushes may not be for everyone. They are not the cheapest brushes I have used, but the more I use them, the more I want to stress the outstanding quality that really makes them stand out from most of the other brushes that I have tried and I need to say that they are definitely worth the money. Following are some of the reasons why . . . 

Angular Shaders

If I could only use one brush, the angular shader would be it. I use this type of brush for anything from base coating to shading to lining and painting fur on the chisel edge. The 1/4" size is my favorite, as I usually do smaller and more detailed pieces, but since using these new brushes, I also fell in love with the 1/8" angular shader as well. 

Why I feel this brush is superior to others I have tried . . . 

The bristles are slightly longer than the other angular shader brushes I have used. This means that there is less chance of the paint getting up in the ferrule and causing the bristles to spread. The hairs themselves are absorbent, yet firm and hold their shape. When I use cheaper brushes of this style, because I use the tip of the brush so much, the ends of the bristles seem to bend a bit and curl. This is very frustrating and renders the brush practically useless for me. but the Traditions brush holds its shape beautifully. I also like that there aren't 'too many' hairs in this brush. Some brushes are too 'thick' and you can't get a good line when using it on the chisel edge. These brushes have a chisel edge that is beautifully sharp and has remained so through continued used. This is where the 1/8" size really shows its' stuff. You can use it as a lining brush on the chisel edge and it does a beautiful job. I am really impressed. 

Dome Blender

This brush is another wonderful 'discovery' brush that once I used it, I don't know how I painted without it.  The Traditions dome blender is somewhat like a deerfoot stippler, but has rounded bristles and slightly softer hairs. It is great for both dry brushing and blending, and many times I use it in place of a mop brush. The softer bristles mean that it is easier to get a softer, dry-brushed look than with a regular deerfoot stippler, yet with the addition of more paint, you can still get a nice textured effect for things like trees and shrubs. When using it for 'dry-brushing' the results are beautifully light and soft. 

Why I feel this brush is superior to others I have tried . . . 

I really loved the Loew-Cornell 410 stippler and have used them all of my painting life. however, since the bristles are much stiffer, they tend to wear down quickly and it is more difficult to get the softer result that you can get with the Traditions dome blender. The rounded edges on the dome blender allow for a bit more control, and when using the smaller (#8) dome blender, you are able to dry brush very small areas fairly easily. Finally, using them as you would a mop (with a light touch) allows you to beautifully blend your paint quickly and easily with lots of control. 

Flat Shaders

Once again the longer hairs and resiliance of the fibers really play a part in these brushes. Like the angular shaders, they are ultra absorbant and hold a beautiful chisel edge. This makes them a great choice for base coating, shading and strokework. I don't know what fibers they are using, but I really love them. 

Why I feel this brush is superior to others I have tried . . . 

The main thing here that impressed me was the length of the bristles. Typically, I use shaders for base coating. I like to load them fully, but not get paint up into the ferrule where it can dry and cause the brush to separate. The slightly longer bristles allow me to fully load the brush without worrying about this issue. They hold a lot of paint which makes them ideal for base coating. Even though the hairs are longer, they have the perfect balance of absorption and control. Some shaders with longer bristles either don't hold paint well or the bristles bend easily from use and they fan out quickly. The Traditions brushes hold a beautiful chisel edge even after a great deal of use. 

Lining Brushes

Again, I am extremely impressed with these. The line of brushes has two types of liners – regular and Kolisky Quill. Once again the regular liner has those wonderful hairs that are absorbent and easy to control. Their slightly longer length is somewhere between a regular lining brush and a script liner, and it holds a lot of paint while keeping a perfect edge. The Kolinsky Quill is beautifully absorbant, allowing one to make beautiful stroke work. This brush fits well in this line of beauties. 

Why I feel this brush is superior to others I have tried . . . 

I am beginning to sound repetitive here, but once again, the slightly longer bristles and greater absorption win out. Since I am a 'tight painter', it is all about control. The tips of these liners are tapered just the right amount to allow beautiful, fine line work while holding a decent amount of paint. The firmness of the bristles allow you to have the ultimate control as you paint. I feel that I have never painted line work better. The only brush I can compare to the Kolinski Quill is Margot Clark's "Miracle Brush" which I truly love as well. The quality on both of these brushes is equivalent, with the Traditions brush having slightly longer bristles which may hold a bit more paint. 

Overall Assessment

Every brush in this line has surprised me. I have been painting over 30 years, and while I knew that some brushes were better than others, and have used some really nice brushes in the past, none have impressed me as much as the Traditions. I actually sit and think as I paint "Wow – these are really good brushes."  How often does that happen to us??  

Not only are the 'business ends' of the brushes wonderful but the handles are beautiful as well. They are comfortable to hold and are quality made. Some of my cheaper brushes crack very quickly when being left in the water for even several minutes. (I know – you aren't supposed to leave them in water, but we all do from time to time!) They Just plain feel good. I have painted for hours with them and my hand feels fine. 


I hope you found this review helpful. These are just four basic brush types that I use most frequently. I am not into the 'gimmick' brushes too much, but stick to the basics.  At first I thought that the price for these were a bit high, but you can often find them on sale at Art Apprentice Online  and it help a great deal. (AAO is a GREAT site – you should check out all they have to offer!)  I plan on getting a few 'extras' of these brushes in the near future, as I don't know how I got along so long without them. (Seriously!) 

I literally have hundreds of brushes and these are by far my favorites. I know I will be using them for all my serious painting (and what painting isn't 'serious'?!?) from now on. If you are looking for a great product, I really think they are worth the investment. 

You can read more about them here on the Traditions Website.

It is a beautiful and sunny day today. There was a thick layer of frost on the grass this morning. Winter is definitely not far off. 

I hope you all have a happy Thursday! 

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

4 comments so far

View Celticscroller's profile


1202 posts in 1490 days

#1 posted 12-10-2015 11:02 PM

Thanks for the information Sheila. A very good review. It’s always good to know which brushes work best.

-- Anna

View ArworksIII's profile


13 posts in 331 days

#2 posted 12-11-2015 01:14 AM

Cant get that sort of candid acclaim From no Hobby lobby. Thanks

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17570 posts in 3093 days

#3 posted 12-11-2015 04:46 AM

Thanks for the tips on brushes.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8981 posts in 2337 days

#4 posted 12-11-2015 12:32 PM

You are welcome! Also – just today Art Apprentice Online began their 25% off everything sale! Now all on their site is 25% off! The promo code is SHOPNOW25. This was great timing. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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