What You Need to Know About a Paint Brush

Paintbrushes are the tools with which you create your art and thus are extremely important. There are dozens of types of brushes to choose from, all depending on what kind of image you are creating.

Some are small and pointy, some are long and flat, and some even have bristles spread out like a fan. Each brush achieves something different for your painting.

But regardless of the style of brush, there are some things that should be common among all your brushes.

Here are some of the things you need to know about paintbrushes in order to get the best painting from them and keep them in good condition for years to come.

What Your Brush is Made From

First, know that you need to buy the right brush for what you’re painting. For oil painting, brushes made of synthetic materials are not generally recommended, though recent technology has vastly improved their quality. Most oil painters use brushes that have bristles made from hog’s hair.

Hog’s hair brushes have stood the test of time and remain the most durable brushes for oils that can also make beautiful stroke marks. Don’t skimp on your brushes and go for a cheap alternative—cheap brushes are cheap for a reason, and once you end up with stray bristles stuck in all parts of your painting, you’ll know why. You pay for quality when it comes to brushes.

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Treat Your Brushes Kindly

A palette knife exists for a reason. Try not to heavily mix paints with your brush. It’s not what the brush is made for and will do damage to it if you treat it too roughly. When putting paint on a brush, don’t let the paint go all the way up to the metal ferule. Be gentle, and only put as much paint as you need on the brush.

If you pick up too much paint, wipe it off with a piece of paper instead of smashing the brush against the palette to remove the extra. Remember that you want your bristles to stay in place for as long as possible. Once they start to go out of shape or bristles start to fall out, that brush is no longer useable.

The key idea here is to use different tools when you employ different oil painting techniques.

Cleaning Your Brushes

Don’t let paint dry in your brushes. Every day when you finish painting, you need to thoroughly clean out all of your brushes. Use turpentine to dissolve the paint caught in the brush and thoroughly rinse it with some soap and water.

Do this in a well-ventilated area so as not to expose yourself to too many toxic fumes from the turpentine. Paint tends to get stuck where the bristles begin by the ferrule, so focus on this area. Be gentle when cleaning, as rough treatment will cause the bristles to lose their shape.

Once the paint is completely removed from the brush, squeeze the excess water out with your thumb and forefinger, simultaneously coaxing the bristles back into shape. Leave them somewhere to dry thoroughly, like in a cup with the bristle end up. Make sure that all the bristles are in shape while wet, so the brush will dry in this form.

Taking proper care of your brushes will ensure that you get a good return on your investment and have brushes that will last for years. Take the time to treat your brushes right.

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