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The Importance of Good Brushes By James Sulkowski

James Sulkowski is an established Classical Realism artist. 

James graduated from The Arts Student League of New York and has had an impressive career since; From publishing his first full-length book; Mastering Oil Painting in 2013, to hosting 11 seasons on the instructional show Let’s Paint on public access television.
James’ timeless works have been displayed all over the world – notably in the White House and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. We’re delighted he wanted to write something for us on the importance of good brushes and what that means to him. He is a long time user of Rosemary Brushes and we’re so happy to share his incredible work with you.

rosemary &co brushes

The Importance of Good Brushes

By James Sulkowski

I’ve taught oil painting workshops throughout my career as an artist and I always tell my students that ‘you’re only as good as your brushes.’ 

What I mean is that without the proper tools (brushes) an artist’s ability to express themself is compromised.

Artists need a brush that holds the paint, covers the canvas well and doesn’t shed its bristles. Rosemary and Company brushes fill all these needs because of their fine quality of construction and materials.

I recommend white, hogs hair bristle brushes of all sizes from rounds to filberts. I use mostly filberts but I also like the selection of flats and angular brushes that Rosemary offers. 

When I paint, I stay with the bristle brushes because of the control of the brushstroke that I can get. Students too often use soft brushes in building a painting. These are good for the finish when it comes to thin color glazes. The round sable brushes are what I call ‘ the drawing brush.’ Save these brushes for the final touches or details of the painting. I have a selection of Rosemary sables from 0 to 6. 

So the bristle brushes are for building the painting; its forms, background, textures and so forth while the sables are used for finishing when it comes to a leaf, an eye, a tree branch, a flower petal or stem etc.

As far as my technique is concerned, I subscribe to the Classical approach where the darks are kept transparent and the lights are built up opaquely and even with impastos and later glazed. This creates a depth and luminosity that I feel is unequaled. 

portrait of Father Freddy

The brush I’m using on the landscape painting is an Ivory Rigger that is perfect for the sharp detail I want for my tree branches.

Detail of Forest with riggeur brush Forest and Stream still life with hand holding brush

The brush I’m using in the still life is an Ivory Pointed Round that really holds the paint as I build a thick impasto stroke.

Still Life with Bowl Detail of Still Life with bristle brush

The brush shown in the floral painting is a Kolinsky sable which is great for my crisp finishing details of stems, petals, buds and leaves.

Detail of Peonies with sable brush Peonies in a Basket


I welcome you to visit James’ website to see more about his art: https://www.jamessulkowskifineart.com/ 

And also to: www.patreon.com/sulkowskifineart . You can also subscribe to James’ youtube channel where you’ll see numerous free art lessons: www.youtube.com/@jamessulkowski9802

Gouache; A Brief History and The Suitability of Rosemary & Co’s ‘Shiraz’ Brushes

Gouache paint has been around for centuries however not many casual artists have experience with them like they have with the more popular mediums of acrylic, watercolour or oil. I spoke to Murray Ince, an artist and tutor based on the Isle of Wight about Gouache and what best practices he implements. This is what he had to say;

“Gouache is a lovely medium to work with and has a surprisingly long history. It is very similar in use to Egg Tempera and Casein. Egg tempera’s pigments are bound with egg as you may have guessed and Casein is precipitated from milk. The binder is made by dissolving the resulting ‘Casein’ in an alkaline, usually lime, ammonium carbonate or borax, which is then added to the pigments. There are very subtle differences in these three media, but probably the most important is that over time both casein and egg tempera become waterproof. Gouache is not waterproof when dry so needs to be mounted and framed under glass as you would a watercolour.

The advantage of Gouache not being waterproof is that it can be re-wetted or dampened to re-activate the surface allowing for some subtle blending. The binder used in Gouache is Gum Arabic the same as in watercolour. The major differences between Gouache and watercolour are that the particles of pigment in gouache are larger and there is significantly more pigment in gouache. An ‘extender’ is used in some gouache colours, usually precipitated chalk which all works to make gouache much more opaque than its transparent counterpart.

‘View Towards Seaview from Puckpool, Isle of Wight’

‘View Towards Seaview from Puckpool, Isle of Wight’

Gouache Characteristics

Gouache dries to a lovely, matt, velvet like surface and as it is an opaque medium reproduces extremely well. Watercolour being transparent is notoriously difficult to reproduce well as some of the subtleties can be lost in the reproduction process, light passes through the pigment of pale washes bouncing back from the papers surface whereas gouache being more heavily pigmented, opaque and matt absorbs the majority of the light giving more accurate reproductions. For a long time, gouache has been the favoured medium by designers, animators and illustrators and has become known as Designer’s gouache.

The surface of a gouache painting makes it suitable for certain mixed media techniques, I have used it to great effect with coloured pencil and artist’s soft pastel allowing for some great effects.

The opaqueness of gouache allows for the application of light colours over dark colour, making it much more forgiving than watercolour.

‘Loch Leven’ on Rough 140lb watercolour paper created for an article in ‘Leisure Painter’

‘Loch Leven’ on Rough 140lb watercolour paper


The properties of gouache make it possible to paint on a great many supports and grounds including all types of watercolour paper. Of course you can use any paper below 140lb in weight if it is first stretched as you would watercolour paper. As gouache is so opaque you are able to paint straight onto any dark colour including black, any colour mount board is a good support! You can also paint on stretched canvases and canvas boards. If using on a stretched canvas don’t use it too thickly as the dried surface of gouache is not overly flexible and could be prone to cracking if on a very flexible surface.


I am best known for my work in Water-Mixable Oil paints and am the founder of the ‘Society of Painters in Water-Mixable Oils’ for which I use the Rosemary & Co ‘Ivory’, ‘Red Dot’ and various brushes from their special ranges. I also do an ever-increasing amount of work using gouache and for many years just used basic lower price bracket brushes for painting with gouache due to its make-up, gouache is grittier and heavier than watercolour and even though I have generally been happy with my results I have always had my eye open for the perfect brush to use with them, queue Rosemary & Co!

Thumbing through the lovely catalogue (available for free here) and speaking to Joe at R & Co. I decided to buy some of the ‘Shiraz’ range of brushes and boy, am I glad I did! They are totally suitable for my style of gouache painting and are available in a great range of shapes and sizes. They have a lovely ’snap’ and hold their beautiful shapes well. They are that bit stiffer than watercolour brushes but not as stiff as hog bristle brushes making them perfect for my style and techniques.

I will be adding many more ‘Shiraz’ brushes to my growing collection of Rosemary & Co brushes, they have certainly helped me improve and develop my techniques in all mediums.”

by Murray William Cole Ince

‘Poppies’ on black cartridge paper 11” x 8”

‘Poppies’ on black cartridge paper 11” x 8”

Murray has mentioned the key brushes he has used for his recent gouache endeavours:

The pointed rounds hold their points beautifully and are a lovely shape, the filberts, Daggers and flats hold a knife sharp edge which is really useful and give me the full armoury of various mark making. I will be buying the full range in the very near future!

A big Thank You to Murray for all your information, I hope and i’m sure our readers can learn something new!

Everyone has their own individual preferences and favourite brushes. We are thrilled Shiraz work really well for Murray, but many of our brushes could also work for other artists, from beginner to advanced. Check out some of our brush sets that will be well equipped for gouache by clicking here

I welcome you to visit Murray’s website to see more about his art! www.murrayince.com


Royal Mail have provided their last postage dates for a Christmas delivery. You can view the list in it’s entirety by clicking here. Please note some countries may not apply to Rosemary & Co as we do not use Royal Mail for all countries.

Many dates across November 2022 are planned for industrial action so please bear that in mind too. Click here for all Royal Mail’s latest news regarding their planned strikes as customers should expect significant disruption.

You can see all our delivery options here.

We advise you order as soon as possible to avoid any disappointment!

royal mail xmas 2022


Rosemary and Co Will Be Closed During The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

This week sees the UK celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with an extended public holiday that Rosemary and Co will be observing.

Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd in Cardiff. Picture date: Thursday October 14, 2021.

As a result, our offices and production department will be closed as follows:

Thursday 2nd June : Spring Bank Holiday
Friday 3rd June : Platinum Jubilee bank holiday

We will also be closed on the weekend, as normal, therefore we are back open on Monday 6th June. You can still place orders online throughout.

Many of the UK’s cities, towns and villages will be busy organising events and street parties as we approach the celebration of the Queen’s coronation 70 years ago. At Rosemary and Co we are joining The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), a tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. Everyone across the UK is being invited to plant trees from October 2021, when the tree planting season begins, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022. We are so proud to be planting 3 native trees at the Rosemary offices in North Yorkshire, a Field Maple tree, a Beech tree and a Holm Evergreen (wink wink) Oak tree.

Here are some facts about the upcoming jubilee:

1) A jubilee is a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of a reign or activity!

2) Special jubilees are named after precious stones: Silver for 25th, Ruby for 40th, Golden for 50th, Diamond for 60th and Platinum for 70th.

3) The first British monarch to mark a jubilee in a significant way was King George III in 1809 (below).

4) King George V was the first British monarch in history to celebrate a Silver Jubilee in 1935.

5) The Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 1977, her Ruby Jubilee in 1992, her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and her Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

6) The London Underground has a line named after the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, aptly named the Jubilee Line! In May 2022, The Elizabeth Line was unveiled.


7) The Jubilee Line’s colour is grey, representing the silver colour of the 1977 Jubilee!

8) This year’s event will be the first time a British Monarch has celebrated a Platinum Jubilee.

9) The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012 was allegedly the ‘world’s largest outdoor party’, when more than 1 million people lined the River Thames to watch 1,000 boats sail down!

10) There will be four days of public celebration for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – An extended bank holiday, from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June.

We look forward to helping all your enquiries and orders on Monday. We hope you enjoy your weekend too!

Wildlife art by George Davies

If you’re anything like me then wildlife paintings will bring instant joy and a smile to your face. It was with great pleasure to come across George’s work and I finally get to share his emotive and expressive paintings with you all. Here’s what he had to say earlier this year;

“I’m a 17-year-old oil painter from Chester, England and I’m currently going into year 13. I’ve loved drawing and painting from an early age and my particular interest is wildlife, although I do try other subjects as well.

A Shady Spot

I dedicate most of my spare time to painting and creating ideas for new works, using my photos as well as some from friends for my reference. I have been inspired by many artists, but particularly painters such as David Shepherd, John Banovich and Andrew Tischler, who has been a great source of inspiration and personal advice. I love creating pictures of wildlife from different parts of the world, such as those inspired by trips to the West Coast of Scotland and photos from friends who have travelled around Africa. I have also painted a few portraits of family members and friends and I’m planning to do more in the future.


During the first lockdown I was given extra time and freedom to paint as I was unable to sit my GCSEs. I was able to start a series of African wildlife, some Arctic wildlife paintings and a couple of portrait commissions.”

I think you will agree with me that George is an amazing painter, a rising star and his hard work and raw talent deserves to be showcased.


Here are some of his achievements and exhibitions:

Exhibiting with Exhibition Wildlife Art July 2021

Exhibited at Gorstella Gallery 2019

Society of All Artists Young Artist and Junior Artist of the year

Exhibited at National Open Art, London

Member of the Association of Animal Artists

Check out his website www.georgelennondavies.co.uk

and his Instagram page now!

Artist Spotlight: Robert Trent

We were approached by Rob some time ago, conveying his love for our brushes! We are lucky enough to receive lots of these lovely emails – but this one was particularly special to us.
Rob was born disabled, and from a very early age was taught to write, draw and paint with the implement held between his teeth by his home tutor.
I recently asked Rob if he would be happy to be featured on the blog and thankfully he obliged, as I know our readers would be inspired. This is what he had to say:
“My tutor often told me about the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA), and to encourage me they sent me a set of paints.
Although I enjoyed painting, I left school and focussed on finding employment. In that time I got married and we had a daughter.
It was in 1998 that I successfully joined the MFPA as a Student Artist. Working full time meant it wasn’t until 2013 that I became an Associate Member.
In 2018 I retired from my job and threw myself into my painting. I found a brilliant art tutor, Kay Le Poidevin, who not only pushed me to try different styles of paintings, but who also introduced me to Rosemary Brushes.
Screenshot 2021-10-19 at 16.54.48
The brushes were a ‘game changer for me’. I found them really robust (a lot of my brushes previously got chewed up very easily), they allowed me to apply marks to my paintings in a much more thoughtful manner and best of all, I was able to choose the long handle brushes.
I’ve been using the brushes for three years, and last year I achieved my ambition of becoming a Full Member of the MFPA.
I’m also delighted that one of my paintings, produced using Rosemary Brushes, was selected as a card for this years MFPA Christmas pack!”
“Post Box Robins” Gift cards are available to purchase at this link:
Roberts Work can also be found on the MFPA website, check it out by clicking here!

The Beautiful Artwork of Phil Courtney

Phil Courtney is a long time user of Rosemary Brushes and it is about time we shared his absolutely stunning work with you all. Phil graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine arts located in Philadelphia and has been in the industry ever since. Exquisite both in Oil and Water colour,  Phil always manages to capture the beauty of his subject material.

flower-fireworks-lt_orig I am amazed how he gets his paintings to look so realistic, especially with the sheer size of the canvases, (some 41″ x 57″!). To get the perspective and proportion so on point, I think you will agree it can be a challenge even on a smaller scale, but Phil does it with such precision and realism, and I can only imagine the patience he puts into them!


The oil painting below -Magnolia Seed Pod  22″ x 54″ – oil on canvas, is featured in the July/August 2021 of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine and it was painted solely using only Rosemary brushes!

Magnolia Seed Pod

If you would like to see more of Phil’s fantastic work and to see his process, workshops and online shop, please check out his website: www.philcourtney.com


wooden-rabbit-web-72-res_origThank you Phil for allowing me to show off your art! The watercolours are my personal favourite, especially “The Wooden Rabbit”!

Oil PAINTING around YORKSHIRE By Luiz Vilela

Luiz visited us in Yorkshire for almost a month this Summer. The images shown are quick Plein Air studies, on the go!

I spent the month of June painting in Yorkshire, England. It is one of the most beautiful places in the whole world and paradise beauty for any artist.

yorkshire 4

Rosemary & Co Artists’ Brushes hosted two painting workshops in their premises and around the area. The first one with Michelle Dunaway, we were out and about painting the landscape and the figure in the landscape. Michelle was a wonderful adviser, always helpful and sharing her thoughts in art and the life of an artist. A true inspiration! We had a fantastic time painting at Bolton Abbey for two days.

On the second day, we painted model Ross dressed in character – A real Yorkshire man! I didn’t feel the time passing by, I was so immersed in capturing the scene. I stayed for the second workshop with Michael Klein, painting florals. I’ve been such a fan of his work so it was like a dream for me to be able to paint flowers with him. The set was Rosemary’s orangery, a stunning place and each student had the most beautiful flower arrangement to work from. In the mornings, we watched Michael develop his own piece, and I had to sit really close to him and see how he handled the paint and his brushwork technique.

yorkshire 3


“I LEARNT that the POSSIBILITIES of painting are INFINITE!”

We all watch videos but nothing compares to the experience of observing an artist responding to his subject matter right in front of you. With these workshops, I learnt that the possibilities of painting are infinite! And more: it helped me to find out what is really important to me. I also had the opportunity to explore the area on the days before and in between classes. I met old and new friends and enjoyed the camaraderie whilst going to places like Haworth (where the Brontë sisters lived) small villages in the neighbourhood and idyllic places like Malham Cove.

yorkshire 1

Last but not least there were Rosemary and Symi (who showed us how to make brushes in two demos and shared tips on how to take care of your brushes – really helpful!) and their team striving to make our experience unforgettable! I like to quote from the master:

“There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual – become clairvoyant. We reach then into reality. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. It is in the nature of all people to have these experiences; but in our time and under the conditions of our lives, it is only a rare few who are able to continue in the experience and find expression for it.” – Robert Henri

yorskire 2


I feel truly blessed and thankful.

Images courtesy of Luiz Vilela. Please visit Luiz’s website


My NEW found LOVE for PLEIN AIR By Billy Seccombe

Billy Seccombe is a painter represented by Dacia Gallery in NYC. He instructs painting & drawing at DuCret School of Art in S. Plainfield, NJ.

A recent weekend getaway to the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York marked the beginning of a newly found love in plein air painting. With it’s rolling hills and vibrant autumn colours, the region offers a certain peace and tranquility.

billy seccombe 1

Racing to set up my paintbox at the crest of a mountain top overlooking a valley, I quickly began to apply paint to my small canvas in the diminishing afternoon light. It was exhilarating, electrifying, and I was completely alone. The painting and I were one with nature.

“High atop Flint Hill Road … silence was my companion.”

The once Native American fishing and hunting low-lands of Cheesequake Park in New Jersey have a tranquillity to it that I find myself returning to as well. There is a calmness here I often seek. It was sparsely populated that Thanksgiving day, overcast and cold. I found myself at one with the marsh land, distant purple-gray hills and sweet ocean air. My paintbox and I connected with the surroundings which can only be described as meditative.

billy seccombe 2

The honesty I found in my marks was something only painting from nature can offer. With plein air painting the pressures associated with portraiture quickly dissolve away allowing one to focus instead upon abstract shapes as though large pieces of torn paper. There is a looseness and bravery that come from this knowing. It was one of the most aware, fully alive moments of my life.

Images courtesy of Billy Seccombe. Please visit Billy’s website


My words to Michael were, “This is a marathon not a sprint!” and boy was I right. Two 3 day workshops and a demonstration evening over 7 days was no mean feat – but we did it! We had 30 students over the two workshops from all around the world, and 16 flower bouquets to arrange. That, alongside the heatwave we’ve been experiencing in Yorkshire leant itself to a dreamlike situation. One we and hopefully the students too, will never forget!

michael klein 1
Each morning Michael set up his easel and palette to give an in-depth demonstration to the students. The first day Michael outlined the basics, although quite honestly, he makes it look so easy. (I’m sure the students
will agree!). A true modern-day Master. My job was to make sure folks had enough tea and coffee, and that they were generally comfortable at the workshop. Rosemary had allowed us to use her Orangery to host the workshops. The space is at the back of the Rosemary Brushes workshop and has the most glorious views of our valley.
At lunch we all sat outside and we brought out home-made packed lunches and nibbles for the students. It was a relaxed and calm atmosphere. Idyllic some may say. In the afternoons the students painted, working on the same piece over the three days. Michael went to each student time and time again to help and give advice. This indoor set-up was something new for us!

michael klein 2
With the week before the workshop being National Flower Week in the UK, we were lucky to have the choice of so many beautiful flowers for the set-ups – all at their peak and many from Rosemary’s garden!
The students were painting peonies, avalanche roses, agapanthus, sweet alyssum, alpine thistles, bell flowers… the list goes on. We made our own still life stands ready for the occasion, to ensure a professional set up
(thank you to Kenny!).

michael klein 3
Michael also gave an evening demonstration to the students, which we opened up to the general public. We filmed this evening, which you can find on our YouTube channel. Search Rosemary & Co to watch this! We’re
making lots more videos now.
During the demonstration evening (a 3 hour session), Michael showed how he would approach a still-life set up, with limited time. We are blessed to have our workshop where we make the brushes in such beautiful surroundings, and so this evening was filmed in Rosemary’s garden.

michael klein 4
Overall, it was such a magical week. I couldn’t pick if you made me as to which workshop was better! They were both fantastic, and I am confident the students would tell you the same. I urge you to look at the Masters we have joining us to teach next year and consider a trip to this beautiful place we call home, Yorkshire!