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Brush Care

~Extending the use of brushes~

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Your paintings are only as good as the brushes you use. To maintain optimal performance, one must handle them with care to ensure that they last longer. They are an investment and must be cleaned thoroughly and correctly at the end of each painting session. I will explain in detail how to retain the quality of your brushes, careful treatment will keep them fresh and new for a long time.

Never allow paint to dry on the brush! When using fast drying acrylic paint, it's particularly important to repeatedly rinse and wipe during a painting session, as well as giving the brush a thorough cleaning at the end of the session. Quality brushes are expensive. Therefore, take the time to clean them correctly, it is time worth spent.

It's important to always use separate brushes for oil painting, water mediums, gesso, varnish and masking fluid.

~The Cleaning Procedure~

1. Wipe off all the excess paint with tissue or a rag.

2. For brushes used with acrylics and other water based media, rinse the brush under lukewarm running water. Do not force the paint out with a lot of water pressure... be patient! As you rinse, gently squeeze the bristles. Do not use hot water as it will expand the ferral, this can damage the bristles and cause them to fall out. For oil brushes, rinse in turpentine. You may wish to wear gloves while cleaning.

3. Wipe with a cloth.

4. Swipe the brush over a mild bar of soap and work a lather right up to the ferral in the palm of your hand. Do this with both oil and acrylic brushes.

5. Rinse the brush and repeat step 4 until there are no traces of color. Make sure that all of the paint is removed.

6. Rinse all traces of the soap out of the brush using lukewarm water, then shake the water from the brush.

7. Shape the brush with your fingers.

8. Stand the brush on its handle and allow it to dry at room temperature.

It's in your best interest to follow this cleaning procedure. If you don't, your brushes will lose their flexibility and become stiff and useless.

~Sable Substitute~

For hundreds of years, Sable has been the preferred hair for premium brushes. It's ease of use allows for subtle blending and smooth strokes, more so than any other brush. However, they do not last very long when used hard, therefore if you paint frequently, you will find yourself going through quite a few brushes. Sables are too expensive to use in such a manner!

The best substitute for Sable brushes is synthetic Taklon. I consider Taklon brushes to be superior to Sable - they can be used with most paints, they resist breakage and cleaning them is easy. Also, a Taklon brush will last much longer than a Sable.

~Keep Your Make-up Brushes Clean~

All cosmetic brushes should be cleaned once a month. Many women are unaware of this, so I thought I'd mention how to clean make-up brushes and applicators. Brushes which are used to apply lipstick and concealer often become sticky and can easily pick up particles of dust and dirt, these brushes should be cleaned more frequently.

Wash cosmetic brushes and applicators in lukewarm water with pure soap or mild hair shampoo. As with artistís brushes, gently squeeze out the make-up while the brush is under water. Repeat until the soap is totally removed. Then, shape the bristles to their original form and allow to dry on a paper towel.

Editor...Linda Graham

More Tips:
Introduction Page | Optical Mixing | Translucent Water | Color Contrasts
Hue, Value, Intensity, Color Temperature | Composition | Technical Tips | Value Scale
Red Power | Keeping Acrylics Moist | Color | Young/Helmholtz | Book Excerpt

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