Homer's Tool: Watercolor Brushes

It takes practice to perfect laying a flat wash and requires not only the correct method but also the proper brush. Two of Homer’s watercolor brushes remain; typical of 19th-century examples, they are made from sable bristles set into a swan quill that was stripped of its feathers. Full at the base and tapering to a point, the bristles fan outward when pressed to the paper, making it possible to deliver a wide, uniform band of color.

Two brushes belonging to Winslow Homer, made of sable bristles set into a swan quill. Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, gift of the Homer family, 1964.69.193a–b.