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Oil Painting Brushes Care


Oil Painting Colors

You need to know a bit about oil painting brushes care if you're serious about learning to draw and paint.

I have already listed the essential brushes needed for painting, but as you progress you will naturally want to add to your collection.

As you paint more you will realize the importance of good brushes, too.

A good oil painting brush will hold its shape and, with good care, will last several years, but an inferior brush never has the spring and resiliency of a more expensive make.

Inferior brushes also have the infuriating habit of depositing loose hairs on the painted canvas.

This always seems to happen when you have just executed a particularly fine color passage!

Start to paint by dipping the oil painting brush lightly into the color, taking care not to let the color come up to the ferrule.

Use the rag frequently, removing surplus color and at the same time pressing the hairs back into shape.

If you lay-in your paintings in a dry-brush manner, that is, applying color with a rubbing technique and with little or no medium, use one of your older stiff bristle brushes.

Once you start using full color, apply it with a crisp, firm touch.

You can clean your oil painting brush fairly well while working by dipping it into the turpentine and wiping it dry with a rag.

However, when a deep blue or violet color is followed with a shade of yellow, the darker color may tint the lighter one in spite of the quick turpentine rinse.

You will find it convenient, therefore, to use a separate brush for lighter colors, particularly the yellows and ochre.

Many painters use several brushes when working outdoors, reserving a brush for yellows, one for blues, another for reds, and so on.

That may not always be necessary, but it is advisable to have separate oil painting brushes for Thalo colors, whose tinting quality is so powerful that they can easily find their way into all the colors used.

Use as large a brush as possible for the area to be covered.

This will insure a broad style. Bristle brushes are preferable to sable brushes for most of your paintings, be­cause they impart a more vital stroke to the canvas.

Using a sable brush at too early a stage of the painting can lead to an undesirable slickness.

Oil painting brushes are made with long handles for a purpose. Much painting is accomplished by holding the end of the brush handle—particularly in the early stages of a canvas.

This enables you to paint with more freedom and, since you are holding the brush at arm's length, to see your work more clearly.

Then, as the canvas becomes covered with color, details can be added by grasping the brush by its metal ferrule.

Holding the brush like a pencil is almost instinctive, but you should experiment with the effects that are achieved by handling the brush in various other ways.

Notice how the color is deposited on the canvas when you pull the oil painting brush firmly downward, in contrast to holding it lightly and patting the color on gently.

Try painting a thin line by twirling a pointed brush between your forefinger and thumb; the resulting line will be broken and softer than when the brush is gripped by the ferrule.

Keep this in mind for rendering tree branches without leaves, wires, ropes, and similar lines.

As you work you will find that long-haired bristle brushes produce a more fluid stroke than short-haired brushes.

The flat sable brush with its soft hair will be found useful for smoothing rough passages, blending various colors together, and generally re­fining the painting.

Give your much used brushes a rest every so often. After washing them thoroughly, place the brush part between the pages of a heavy book for a few days.

This will help to hold their shape and add to their life.

In addition to turpentine, which is convenient for cleaning oil painting brushes quickly while painting, soap and water should be used regularly.

Use a mild soap and lukewarm water. Work up a lather with the soap and rub the lather well into the brushes.

Pay special attention to cleaning the brush where it meets the ferrule.

It is when the paint be­comes imbedded into this area that the brush loses its shape.

Rinse thoroughly with the lukewarm water, mak­ing certain that all the soap is removed. Finish rinsing with cold water.

Then, with your thumb and forefinger, squeeze the surplus water out, and at the same time reshape the brush.

Put clean oil painting brushes in an upright container, brush end up.

Do not discard old brushes; you will find them useful for achieving certain effects that can be obtained only with a worn brush.

I have some brushes in my collection that have just a few wisps of hair remaining, but I still find use for them.

If you accidentally allow the color to dry in a brush, try soaking it in turpentine or kerosene overnight.

If the color still adheres, use a commercial paint remover as a last resort. No brush is ever quite the same again after the powerful remover is used, so make every attempt not to allow the color to set in your brushes.

There is an excellent brush- and hand-cleaning fluid on the market.

The cleaning agent is properly balanced and will not harm brushes. Color is removed faster with less rubbing, and the fluid acts to preserve the brush.

A brush that has lost its shape can be restored to some degree by being dipped in a mild solution of mucilage and water. First properly shape the brush hairs with the fingers.

The mucilage will hold the hairs in position. Al­low the solution to remain on overnight, then soak the brush in warm water to remove the mucilage.

The brush will generally come back to a semblance of its original shape.

Oil Painting Links:


Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez

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