Traditional art: Brushes and how to take care of them

Traditional art: Brushes and how to take care of them

Today we are going to talk about

BRUSHES

Brushes are tools that we will use to apply paint on a canvas.

It consists of three fundamental parts:

  • Handle: It is where we are going to grab the brush. Also, it contains useful information about that particular brush: model, brush type number, tip number, etc.
  • Ferrule: It is a metal or plastic support that joins the handle with the tip
  • Head: It is the material that is going to be submerged in paint or water to be able to apply it on the canvas.

There are several types of hair:

  • Toray synthetic hair: These synthetic brushes are used to work with watercolors, since their bristles are very soft. Being so versatile, it is even possible to make an entire illustration with very few brushes.
  • Teijin synthetic hair: These synthetic brushes are often used to work with acrylics and oils. They are widely used for their great elasticity and are resistant. You can find them with a long handle, very useful to be able to paint without having to lean on the canvas.
  • Natural bristle: They are the most common because they are used not only for oil, but also for other gouache techniques.
  • Ox ear hair: It is said that this type of material was used in the Palaeolithic for painting. It is a fairly soft hair and useful for watercolor and not very dense oil.
  • Polecat hair: Much loved by artists who work with oil and acrylic. They are very durable thanks to their elastic and high-strength fences.
  • Pony hair: They are highly appreciated by watercolourists, although they are not very common. They can also be used to decorate ceramics and porcelain.
  • Sable hair: They are very soft and elastic, valued in practically all gouache techniques.

Regarding the tip of the brush, it should be clarified that there are different types and each one is used to give a different effect:

  • Flat brush: They are square brushes and, as the name suggests, flat. It is very useful to make controlled and short strokes. Depending on the cut of the tip, we can find square, angular…
  • Round brush: Used to make different types of lines and play with their thickness. There are many variants, such as countersunk, pointed, liner, etc.
  • Filbert brush: To blur colors.
  • Brushes to make textures: Here we can put, for example, the bristle fan and ox glaze brushes. These types of brushes are the ones used to paint foliage, grasses and textures in general.

To recognize a good brush, I recommend you to immerse it in water. Poor quality brushes have a perfect shape because the bristles are stuck together by rubber and, once they are wet, the brush is «messy».

In any case, if you don’t take good care of your brushes, they will end up disheveled and useless in the end. To extend the life of these fantastic tools, I recommend that you take a look at these cleaning techniques and other useful tips:

  • Use each brush for a different type of painting.
  • Try to keep your brushes wet while you are working.
  • Never rest the brushes with the tip at the bottom of the container of water or solvent. It is better that you put them horizontally or with a special support that you can find in specialized stores.
  • Always clean your brushes once you finish the job.
  • Once the brushes are dry, try to ensure that the bristles are never crushed, not even when you go to store your brushes. It is better that you place them in a pot with the bristles facing up.

Regarding cleaning, you should follow these steps:

  • Put soap in the palm of your hand and rub the brush in circles with hot water. If you have a bar of soap you can rub directly on it.
  • Make as much foam as possible and then remove it with more hot water.
  • To remove all the soap, squeeze with your fingers from the root of the bristles to the tip.
  • Dry the brushes with a cloth and if you have the opportunity, store them inside their covers or protectors.

In the event that you are painting with oil or with denser paints, you should do the following:

  • First, remove all the paint you can with newspaper, a rag or kitchen paper. In the direction of the root towards the tips of the bristles.
  • Then submerge it in turpentine or solvent. This will remove all the paint.
  • Wash it with hot water and anti-grease soap (dishwasher style). This serves to dissolve the oil from the brush.
  • Let it dry completely before using it again.

They are very simple steps that, if you follow them, you will avoid visiting your specialized store more times than usual to buy brushes.

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