Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Training your Brushes to Behave

Once upon a time there was pure soap to drag your brushes across and flatten or shape into points to help care for the tips after a day of painting. Well let me tell you there is another way that you can pull those wild brushes back into shape and the magic ingredient is….wait for it… Hair Gel!!!

Months ago I pinched my sons jar of Hair Gel to try it out. It is an inexpensive supermarket brand and does the job beautifully in controlling my brushes of all types. If we can put it on our hair without it falling out or change to a weird colour I can’t see that it will hurt and after months of using Hair Gel on my own brushes, I can recommend it.

After each painting session I rinse the brushes out in water or turps (depending on the type of medium used). I then wash my brushes out in warm water and pure soap, no matter what medium I have used. Do this by rubbing the brush onto the soap, rinse and rub onto soap again and rinse until the brush does not soil the soap. One last rinse than remove excess moisture on a cloth, dip in the Hair Gel, shape and allow to dry. It might be wise to rinse the gel out of the brush for watercolour painting but I don’t bother for oils.

It isn’t unusual for me to place a stubborn flat tipped brush that doesn’t want to be trained under the edge of a large cutting mat on my table. It is sufficient weight to hold the fibres together until the gel is dry.

If you would like to share by commenting to this post how to gain a longer life for brushes, I would love to hear from you. razz

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Kim said...

very interesting blog....and good advice on the brushes....
I usually try to use a maximum of 2 brushes per painting (ideally just one) and then I throw them away...lol.... or they die a natural death in my painting cupboard....
regards Kim

Bart said...

Until now I buy cheap syntactical brushes and can use them for months, cleaning them with just soap and water (holding the brushes flat on the soap to make sure the soap can reach the root of the brush). It is often recommended to use cold water as the warm water might take some of the glue away holding the hairs together. But apparently that is not too important as it hasn't bothered you.

Susan Borgas said...

Kim I have this mental image in my head of a pile of brushes hiding in your cupboard! LOL

The water isn't only warm Bart but that is a good point about the glue. I will make sure I don't use water that is too warm. Thanks!