A couple days ago I promised a blog about paintbrush care. Unfortunately, I had to take a few days off because of unforeseen circumstances. As you can see from the photo, we encountered a slight bump in the road. We are all safe. The rest is all stuff. It can be replaced. Most of the art was saved. I’m banged up a bit but nothing serious. I’ll be typing with one hand and hobbling around for awhile but each day is getting a little better.
Now for some brushcare tips that I promised. First, lets look at the parts of a brush. The hairs or bristles are called the head of the brush. The very tip/edge of the head is called the chisel. With an angle brush, the long tip is called the toe and the short side, the heel. The hairs are glued to the handle or shaft and are kept in place by a metal piece called the ferrule. So now that we have the terms, it will be easier to discuss care.
When you first buy a brush, run your finger along the chisel to break up the sizing, and then wet the hairs with water and soap or brush cleaner. If using soap, go for a mild bar or liquid and avoid harsh detergents. There are some fantastic brush cleaners out there, too. Personally, I use liquid hand soap. Squirt a small amount into the palm of my hand and stroke the brush back and forth in it to get it worked into the hairs, rinse thoroughly. Reshape the head and dry flat.
If there had been paint in my brush, I would repeat the soap and rinse steps until all color is out of the brush. Then continue with the drying. Once dry, dressing the brush head in extender or retarder will keep the hairs from becoming brittle. I use DecoArt Extender Medium. I put a few drops of it onto a waxed palette, dip my brush into it and stroke back and forth on a clean spot of the palette. Then I pinch wipe out the excess with a folded paper towel,
Acrylic paint, no matter what brand, is very hard on the bristles. The extender will act as a barrier, protecting the bristles. You can use it in place of water to help the paint to flow through the hairs. And, having extender on your brush will help the paint to release during cleaning.
When I paint I usually do not clean my brush between colors. I simply pinch wipe and pick up the next pigment. The extra bits of color will add harmony throughout the painting. But, there are times when you’ll want to clean paint build up out of the brush before continuing. When this happens, do not set the brush in a water pail or scape it across a ridged pail bottom. Keep the brush shallow and swish it around in the water. Pinch wipe between paper towels and redress in extender, pinch wipe again and you are ready to go.
Try to avoid getting water or paint into the ferule, which could loosen the glue and flay the hairs, so the head will no longer have a sharp chisel.
Mops are a different beast altogether. I’ll try to get back on tomorrow to cover them.
If you find this post helpful, please share with your friends. And, if you have any questions about care and use of brushes, please comment and I will get back with you.