Brush Care

I wash my brushes by rinsing them in water and then rolling/swirling the hairs of the brush on a tissue for excess water which restores thepointed end and store them point upright in a jar or lying on a brush rest. Or you can wipe the brush with a tissue blotting excess water and hand tapering the point before storing.

I've heard of some people using a soap type of solution to stiffen their brushes to points but I've never tried it - I hear it works for brushes that have been left in water or squished - kind of starching it back into shape.

Brush care was one of the first things my textile design professors said we must learn to protect our expensive sable brushes when I first started out in college and since then, no matter what type of brush I use, I do the same thing.

I also mentioned how one paints with a brush might affect the wear of a brush too - this may be old hat to some.....

What I've learned is never to paint directly with the points/tips of the brush but to paint slightly sideways stroking the loaded point of the brush on the surface of whatever you are painting. Good brush control help brushes last longer.


My brushes never last very long... those fresh new points seem to get ground off in short order, from all the work they do. I personally like the Winson & Newton 200 sable series. I've made a little inclined brush holder, which keeps all the water flowing away from the metal collar and prevents the enamel from cracking on the handles. I find that oftentimes a brush that is nearly rounded on the tip will actually make a better, more perfect dot shape than a pointed brush.


Since I paint a lot of needlepoint canvas, I use synthetic brushes with the acrylics and they last very well. I save my sables for the finer gouache work on WC papers and have discovered the synthetics work very nicely with the gouache too.

Just out of curiosity - do many of you work with different sized brushes? For some strange reason, I only like to work with either a size three or four round wc brush for everything I paint, even to painting thin lines.


Date: Sat, 02 Jan 1999 11:47:26 -0800
From: Layne Jackson
Subject: Re: illustration: brushes

Around my studio there's always a big jar of Murphy's Soap, that thick gluey-like soap. If a brush is getting out of hand, you can coat it and leave the soap on it until you're ready to use again, or, because the soap is so thick, you can actually stand the brush up in the soap. It may be adding some of the oil back in the brush--it can and does revive brushes that have lost some of their 'glamour'.


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