Take care of your brushes


One of the downsides of teaching watercolor is seeing how people take care of their stuff. Many people buy nice brushes and then quickly destroy them, it’s sad to see. Here are some simple tips on how to care of your brushes and thus prolong their life.

In future posts I will describe how to wash and store your brushes, this text only applies to how to use them.

  • Never touch the tuft of a dry brush with your fingers, you transfer grease and dirt to the brush hairs, but you can touch a wet brush. Why is everyone doing this, cuddling with their brushes?
  • Always use a watercolor brush only for watercolor, not for oil or acrylic paint. Preferably not for masking liquid and the like either.
  • Never put the brush in your water, at every course I save someone’s brush from death by drowning, they put their brush, with the head first in the water, then I have to save it and put it next to the water tank. Don’t do that.
Do not immerse the brush in water
Never place your brush upside down in the water
Set the brush aside when not in use
Instead, place it on the table or on top of the container
  • Most people use watercolor paint in pans, tubes are less common. When taking paint with your brush from the pan, do not press down on the brush with the top first and stir. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake. Instead, place the brush on its side and roll it over the pan so that the straws and brush top are not damaged. If you want to be extra careful with your finest brushes, do not use them at all to pick up color from pans, instead use an older worn synthetic brush for this.
Do not rub with the brush in the pan
Carefully roll up the paint instead
Carefully roll up the paint instead
  • If you are going to rub and be violent on the painting (it may be needed sometimes) then use an old worn brush for this, not your finest sable brush. I get sad when I see a student rubbing the brush tip and using a $ 100 brush for this! Use something cheap instead.
  • Do not store a damp brush in a tight-fitting container.
  • Avoid dipping the brush in the water above the ferrule or the binding so that the shaft gets wet, it will cause the wooden shaft to swell, crack and eventually come loose from the ferrule.
  • Soak the brush with water before you start painting, I usually roll it lightly on the inside of the water cup, dry brush straws are stiff and they are especially stiff if you have washed carelessly after the last time you painted. If a single straw were to be bent, or worse: broken, when you paint directly with a dry brush, it may not matter much, but after repeated such treatment, your brush will become scattered and lose its elasticity. It loses its shape and fine tip.
  • When transporting your brushes, store them in a brush wrap, canvas brush holder or similar case. Definitely not in a box or jar where they lie loose, It destroys the brushes in no time.
Do not transport your brushes in a jar
When transporting your brushes, store them in a brush wrap, canvas brush holder

There it is, some good advice for better brush use!

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