Your brushes are your best friend and one of the most important tools you have when you are learning to paint. Without the right brushes and without clean brushes, getting those beautiful brushstrokes as a Folk Art painter will be much harder than it needs to be (or very nearly impossible).
Here’s a few tips beyond washing your brushes that will help you keep them in great condition or will help you rescue them if they are looking a little worst for wear...
1. Never put any pressure on the bristles
This might seem like common sense but sometimes, we put pressure on the bristles without realising it. This is the main reason why we say you should never leave your brush in the water for a long period of time because leaving your brush in the water means the bristles will bend as it rests on the bottom of the pot
Be aware as well when your brush is dry that you never store your brush anywhere the bristles will bend - don’t leave them in a pot resting against a wall or (like we have done before) tidy your brush jar away under a shelf where the shelves have bent the bristles.
WAIT! MY BRISTLES ARE OUT OF SHAPE WHAT CAN I DO?
Reshape and straighten the bristles with a little honey and place carefully in the freezer where it can lay with no pressure on the bristles and leave overnight. Wash the honey out the next day and hopefully it will have resolved the kink in your bristles
2. Always reshape with a little soap after washing
Just like delicate clothing needs reshaping whilst damp, the bristles on your brush need reshaping after washing. Without it, the bristles will dry and splay out. Reshaping your bristles with a little soap and leaving them to dry will make sure that they stay in a point when not in use. Before your next painting session, make sure you rinse all the soap out in your sink (NOT your water pot) to make sure no soap gets in to your paint or paint water.
WAIT! MY BRISTLES WON’T COME BACK TO A POINT NO MATTER WHAT I DO...
This might be a result of paint being stuck in the ferrule. Head to the next tip to help you remove as much dried in paint as possible. If you have done this and the problem remains, try the honey trick above and see if that will help.
3. If you’ve got dried paint in the bristles or the ferrule (the metal ring on your brush) all is not lost
With the best will in the world, things happen. We are distracted by a phone call or situation and forget to wash our brushes (or you’ve fallen in to the creative zone, lost track of time and don’t have time to wash your brushes properly) and now you’ve got dried paint in your brush. Before you throw out the brush, or demote it to base coating your roses, try cleaning your brushes with a little hand sanitizer. Go through your usual cleaning process but substitute your hand soap with hand sanitizer rotating the bristles as normal to agitate the dried paint out of the brush. Then wash as normal with hand soap.
WAIT! I CAN STILL SEE PAINT IN THE FERRULE...WHAT DO I DO?
Repeat the process and see if you can remove any more. Sadly, sometimes a brush is past the point of rescuing and will need replacing but hopefully if this is the case, armed with these tips, you will be able to show your new brushes a little TLC as you learn.
Unfortunately, it is true that beginners are a little harder on their brushes as they learn the brushstrokes and techniques and you may need to replace them but as you develop your skills and treat them well, they will repay all the care and attention you lavish on them. An old brush is not a dead brush though, you can use them for basecoating your Vintage roses or use them to paint with the push pull stroke when you learn to paint poppies.
Have you got a brushcare tip or brushcleaning product that you couldn’t live without? Let us know!