Whether you’re an artist, a craftsperson or just a keen dabbler in the creative arts, there’s one thing you’ve no doubt found, and that’s keeping paint brushes clean. It can be quite a challenge, but it’s essential to ensure that your brushes last a long time and continue to be effective tools for your art. Not only that, brushes don’t come cheap, some can cost an absolute fortune, so you want to make sure you’re making them last, and getting maximum bang for your buck.
One of the most common mistakes we make is thinking that we can just let the paint dry on the brush and call it a day. Bad move! This is without a doubt the worst thing you can do to your brushes! Unfortunately, paint is like that ex you just can’t seem to shake – once it’s dry, it’s almost impossible to get rid of and it can damage the bristles of your brush. Also like an ex you can’t shake, it can leave you out of pocket and feeling sad.
Trust me, we’ve all done this one! Have you ever dipped your paintbrush in your coffee or drink? Bad idea! Not only does it introduce harmful chemicals and bacteria into your paint, but it also makes for one heck of a flavourful painting. Not to mention that if you then drink said paint soaked drink, it could make you feel very unwell, and involuntarily spit over whatever it is your painting. Some may like that effect, it’s one I strive to avoid. Keep your paint thinning liquid and your drinks in very different places. Trust me on this, your brushes will thank you!
Another common pitfall is using the wrong cleaning solution. Some cleaning solutions can be harsh and damage the bristles of the brush, while others may not be effective at removing paint. It’s important to use a cleaning solution that is specifically designed for cleaning artist’s paint brushes.
Cleaning your brushes thoroughly is also crucial. Even if you think you’ve cleaned a brush thoroughly, it’s possible that paint may still be lodged in the ferrule (the metal band that holds the bristles) or deep in the bristles. This can cause the brush to become stiff or lose its shape, making it less effective.
But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news! There are a few ways to keep your paint brushes in tip-top shape. Every creative session you have, aim to set aside a few minutes at the end to clean your brushes thoroughly. Frequently clean them using a cleaning solution that is designed for artist’s paint brushes. Additionally, be gentle when cleaning the brush, and make sure to allow it to dry completely before using it again.
Another way to keep paint brushes in good condition is to take good general care of them. This means protecting the bristles when transporting or storing them, and using the brush for the purpose it was intended (e.g. using a watercolor brush for watercolors and not oils). And let’s not forget about being mindful of our brushes and trying to avoid common mistakes like dipping them in our drinks or letting paint dry on the bristles. Never leave you brushes bristle end down, always point the bristles upwards and away from any surface that could flatten them and affect the shape of your brush.
I know, I feel your pain, keeping paint brushes clean may seem like a never-ending battle, but with a little extra care and attention, you’ll be able to keep your brushes in good condition for a long time. If you’re like me, you have go to brushes that you know you want to use in certain situations. Taking care of them and keeping them clean will mean they’re there for you for the long term. Who knows, you may even start to enjoy the cleaning process. (Okay, maybe not that much, but you get the point!)