Tutorial - How to keep your brushes clean

by Roman aka jar

posted by roman, jarhead, kong

Aloa and first of all I wish a good start into this new week :)

This little article shows you how you can easily keep your brushes clean. Sounds irritating for me that I write up this article as I am really a wild boar when it comes to care about my brushes. For me brushes are like guitars and if I would be a good musician I would destroy my guitar after a concert I think. Don't take me as your archetype :)

This article is kind of similar to "Room for Freshness" where I also clean and tidy up my material. Funny thing is that I wrote that one almost one year earlier - Spring is the reason I guess for the will and strength to clean up my material. So I hope you enjoy this article and if you like to say thank you for this article or those many others you can drop a donation to the jungle. Thanks to those who did in the past.

Cleaning your workbench, talk about brushes, colours, material, spirit etc.

As told I am really not good in keeping my brushes clean. I use them like a tool and tools get dirty. When I clean up my brushes like I do in the following describtion it is way more than just tyding up my tools. It is somehow meditation, preparation of the mind for further things to come, leaving the past behind. Now this gets really pseudo emotional, ain't it?

The brushes I am up to clean are all those I am working with at the moment. I still do have the jars of the death row, those brushes who long time stood against color and fought til the end. Those will rest on my brush graveyard. So cleaning my actual brushes means also feeding the graveyard if needed.


The Clean Up - Round 1

When I start cleaning the brushes I take them all and use a little amount of Airbrush cleaner by Revell. I do put some in a extra plastic jar, dip the brushes in and pull them over a tissue for a while until everything gets clean and shiny again.

When you put your brushes into the Airbrush cleaner (or whatever you will use for the first round of cleaning) make sure you only put the brushs hair into it. Not the black or green wooden stuff or it will destroy your varnish and paint on the brush.

When you pull your brush over the tissue make sure you pull it to your body. It is not pushing away from your body, pulling to your body is the right movement. Also take care that you don't clean the brushes like this - you will destroy them - so this first example is WRONG:

This is RIGHT:

You will do this for a while if your brushes look like mine, you will do this with less amount of time if you keep your brushes clean more often. After a while your tissue looks like this. Sometimes I really do remember where I have used the red or the blues coming out of those dirty fellas. This gets us back to the meditational part again :)

I also used some tape to mark my old brushes that I am still working with. The ones you use for the rough work. I was tired always searching for them, now I got them marked and ready for a fast take.

The Clean Up - Round 2

Second step in cleaning leads me to the bathroom to get some Shampoo from my girlfriend as I have no hair left and did not use shampoo for about more than a century. You just need a little bit or you can also use curd soap too. Some brushes are delivered with a brush soap - it is no joke, use it. Again I did use a small plastic jar to put in some shampoo and water - agitate it to mix it.

The reason for this shampoo thing is: If you mostly use synthetic brushes this ain't be very important for you, but if you use natural hair brushes the clean up round 1 made them clean for sure, but the Airbrush cleaner makes them pretty dry and in the end they get very hard if you just stop after round 1. The shampoo/soap attendance makes the hairs soft again and a dream to paint with. It gives the hairs back some grease. So I did put them all in the shampoo bath - just the tips - and did not clean them fast after it. I let them rest for about 2 hours so the shampoo/soap has time to gently invade the dry hairs with grease.

Next is the final clean up. Caring about the protective covers of your best brushes is important. Never lose them or you might get in trouble while starting a wonderful painting night finding your favourite brush dead due maybe a fail moment.

These brush boxes are from a german art store called "Boesner". I am not sure if you can get them worldwide so far. I did put my favourite, well protected brushes in the upper area while I did put the hardcore ones with the tape into the lower area.

So this was a little guide to clean up your brushes. Sure you can do this with the material you prefer but what is most important is that you take your time to take care :)

Happy painting!
Best Wishes


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