Tag Archives: paintbrush

Artist Mops and More

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that mops are treated differently than other artist  paintbrushes. First of all mops, with a few exceptions, are not meant to apply paint to a surface but to smooth and soften what you’ve already applied. They also can be used to blend the line of separation between one color and another. They come in several sizes and shapes. Their hairs may be synthetic, camel, squirrel, hog , goat or a synthetic blend. Most are soft, but some are purposely stiff.

When you use a mop you will not wet it with water or extender first. Usually you will want to make light crisscross strokes over the wet paint. But there are times the smaller mops can be stroked or pounced, always lightly. The mop is going to move the paint around and pick up some of it. If you are too heavy handed you may create holes in your work, taking off more than you intended.

I never clean a mop while I am using it. Instead I vigorously stroke it on a shop towel to get most of the paint out of it before using with a different color.  When I am totally done for the day I can clean it. For the large fluffy mops, I prefer not to use water for cleaning. I rub hand sanitizer in the hairs that still hold paint. It evaporates quickly, leaving the mop still soft and floppy. I’ve tried washing my earlier mops with hand soap and water, but they were never the same afterwards. They lost their softness.

Hand sanitizer works well for all mops and is the best option. If you are concerned about drying out the hairs you can use soap and water but the lather can get out of control. Cut the soap down to a minimum and  be sure to rinse thoroughly.

Hopefully, I’ll have some demonstrations on how to use mops, as well as others down the road.

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Photo of tornado damage to home

Gone With the Wind

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.

 

Value Study painting by Lynnette Horn

Paintbrushes for the Acrylic Artist

One of the biggest mistakes I see beginning artists make is to short change themselves when it comes to supplies. They go on the cheap, buying a packet of assorted craft brushes and buying student grade paints. And then, they wonder why their paintings are not as they should be. Well, duh.

First of all, let me state that there are no magic brushes that will make your brushstrokes a thing of perfection. But, a good quality set of brushes will help you along your journey and won’t wear out nearly as fast. My rule of thumb has always been to buy as much quality as you can afford.

Just a side note about student grade paints–they contain more solids and filler than artist grade paints. If you are following a dvd or a painting pattern, and using student grade paints you will not be able to achieve the same look as the instructor’s. It will appear duller. If you don’t realize it is the paints, you may get discouraged and give up. Always use a good quality artist paint.

The next issue is deciding what type of quality brushes to buy. There’s so many to choose from–hog bristle, squirrel, synthetic, synthetic mix and nylon. No matter what they are made of, what is most important is the degree of softness. In the store, brushes will always feel a little stiff. they have sizing in them to help them keep their shape in shipping. brush your fingers along the chisel (which is the edge of the bristles) to break up the sizing, before you check for stiffness.

Oil painters usually choose the stiffest brushes that will allow their brushstrokes to be seen. Acrylic artists generally want softer brushes that will paint flat, yet have enough resilience to bounce back to their chisel point. Watercolorists use the softest brushes of them all. Personally, I use DecoArt Traditions Brushes, which are high quality brushes specifically made for acrylics. The Traditions line of brushes fill all my needs with a wide variety of liners, rounds, filberts, flats, angles, mops and blenders. If you are interested, they can be purchased from http://www.artapprenticeonline.com. By the way, I don’t receive a penny for endorsing them.

Not matter which manufacturer you go with, the cost may be prohibitive to buy the whole line. So the beginning artist should concentrate on buying the workhorses that will form the foundation for future purchases. Here is my list–stripped down to the bone essentials:

  • •big fluffy mop
  • •3/4″ or 1″ oval brush
  • •#3 round
  • •#4 filbert
  • •#6 filbert
  • •1/4″ angle
  • •1/2″ angle
  • •#10 dome blender
  • •3/0 liner or 0 liner
  • One step beyond bare bones is a #1 mini mop–I just love this brush and couldn’t leave it off, but absolutely necessary, well…

If I had to, I could get by with only these brushes, yet I rarely paint larger than 16″ x 20″ canvases. If you plan on painting mostly larger canvases, you might want to up the sizes a bit. As you learn different techniques from various instructors, you will want to add to this list. I recommend that you just go slow and only buy as needed. If you take care of them, they will last your a very long time. Tomorrow I will cover taking care of your brushes.

Do you have a favorite brush that would be on your bare bones list?