6 Simple Tips for Taking Care of Art Brushes

October 23, 2020 Off By Deanna Coleman

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As an artist, your supplies contribute to the results of your artwork. While it’s mostly your skills that create beautiful strokes and sketches, the results will be better if your supplies are in good condition. Likewise, taking care of your art supplies such as paintbrushes will save you money, as paintbrushes can be quite pricey if you have to buy new ones.

Here are six helpful tips for caring for your paintbrushes and how to make them last for a lifetime.

Clean Your Brushes After Use

You might think it is safe to leave your brushes unwashed after taking a break from your art session, but doing so may damage your brushes in the long run. Clean watercolor and acrylic brushes with soap and water. For oil paint brushes, use special soap designed to clean off oil paint and medium residue as ordinary water and soap may not clean thoroughly. Cleaning your brushes after use will save them from irreversible damage and keep you from buying new brushes.

Use Mineral Spirits with Caution

Mineral spirits such as paint thinner, solvents, and turpentine are excellent for stripping away excess paint that might have hardened in some of your brushes’ bristles. Fill a cup with solvent and dip your brushes up and down the solvent. Lightly press the bristles against the container’s sides to encourage paint release until all dried paint is gone. Blot excess with a clean rag and allow your brushes to air dry.

Avoid soaking your brushes in solvents because doing so will damage the brushes. After cleaning, store the used solvent in a container and contact your local waste management authorities to help you properly dispose of the chemical.

Do not pour the solvent down your sink as it may clog your pipes, especially if you live in lavish high-rise residences, like Victoria Towers in Quezon City. You wouldn’t want to harm your condo’s water system or enrage your neighbors, landlord, and development manager due to contaminating the water or clogging the drains.

Dry Your Brushes After Cleaning

For water-based paintbrushes, avoid soaking them in water. Like oil paint brushes, soaking your brushes in water will damage the ferrule and the glue holding the bristles together. You don’t want to waste money by throwing away your top-of-the-line watercolor or acrylic brushes.

Condition Your Brushes After Cleaning

Conditioning the bristles keeps them in shape and soft enough to glide the paint smoothly on your canvas. After your brushes have dried, coat their strands with a tiny drop of hair conditioner. Some artists use safflower oil, baby oil, and even vegetable oil to condition their brushes. Like in hair care, conditioning your brushes may help prolong their life and give you better brush strokes in future paintings.

Reshape Your Brushes

Reshape your round brushes back to their rounded, pointy tips by dipping the bristles in hot water for thirty to forty seconds. Then, gently run your brush on a bar of soap, circling the hairs until they get coated, to slowly reshape it to their round, pointy, and clustered look. Reshaping your brushes allows you to create various lines with one paintbrush without spending money to buy new ones.

Give Them a Trim

As brushes get older, a few bristles tend to stick out or become stray. Give your brushes a trim by gently cutting away the stray strands. Doing so will reshape your brush, giving you better brush strokes for your new artworks.

Take care of your art brushes with these six simple steps. Doing so will give you better control of your strokes, stunning paintings, and paintbrushes that will last longer.