One of my favorite tools in my studio is the paint brush. i have mason jars and repurposed tubs full of brushes. Long & Short handles. Synthetic & Natural Bristles/Hairs. Filbert, Rounds, Flats, Brights. The arts and crafts market is flooded with various brushes for every type of project. So far we have covered the basics of hairs and bristles, shapes and sizes. Today let's talk about cleaning & care.
These beautiful brushes need caring just like any other tool in your stash. With a few quick steps you can extend the life of your brushes. What i am going over today does not apply to oil paints so please consult other sites for how to clean up oil paints. Instead i am talking mostly about acrylics and watercolors. i also stay away from harsh chemicals and use gentle materials instead.
- never fill the water jar to the top
- change out your water often
- only use lukewarm water never hot
The water jars i use are repurposed yogurt containers or plastic containers. i also have some mason jars that i use too. The plastic containers are very portable so i keep a stack around, some even hold my bigger brushes. Michael, my abstract artis friend, uses an old coffee container so i have no problem using my repurposed containers. Just make sure you clean them thoroughly before using them.
You never ever want to fill the water to the top. The water should never go over top of the ferrule. It can loosen the ferrule and crack the protective coating surrounding the handle of the brush. Keep in mind when you are filling it up that the water will rise with multiple brushes. And only use lukewarm water for hot water will remove some the natural protective oils found in the natural hairs.
Rinse your brushes often when using acrylic paint. The paint can get trapped in the ferrule and dry even though you are still painting with the tip. Once it dries, there is little hope of getting it clean. Don't let your brushes sit too long in the water, especially overnight.
- use lukewarm water never hot water
- use gentle bar soap like ivory
- be patient
Brand new brushes should be cleaned before first use. Again using hot water can strip protective oils found in natural hair brushes so use lukewarm water. A gentle soap like ivory is much better for your brushes than other harsh chemicals or even liquid dish soap. Let's put it this way, only use what you are willing to use on your own hair.
i tend to paint the bar soap and then gently rub the hairs with thumb and pointer finger working from the heel (next to the ferrule) to the toe. Don't be too hard on the hairs, squeezing them too harshly. Instead rinse it several times and be patient. Shake off the excess water and reshape the hairs to its correct shape. Let them air dry before storing them.
The goals is to take care of the brush but that doesn't mean to worry excessively about it. A brush should be used. Michael always tells me if my brushes look too perfect then i am not really painting, that i need to push the brush to its limit and see where it takes me. If the hairs split and don't go back into their original shape i don't panic. I see what kind of fun marks i can get out of it. i would rather have an imperfect brush that has made many marks than have perfect brushes sitting in jars. So while i want you to take care of your brushes, i also want you to use them.