Choosing the right Brush
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Let's talk about the "tools" before we tackle the "how
and why". Brushes are tools and, as such, have proper use and care.
While brushes, like all tools, come in varying grades of quality, unlike
most tools, inferior brushes will only give mediocre results even in the
hands of a master. Your purchases should be based solely on quality, not
quantity. Buying brushes will take a little time. You could visit
several Art stores ( Although I've found Tri Dee to be the best by far) before making a single purchase. You will be buying
by the feel and spring of the "hair".
Here are some buying tips that may help:
1) Never bend the hairs of any dry brush! This will damage the "memory" of the hairs making them almost useless in keeping a fine line.
2) Never "wet" a brush in the store by putting it in your mouth! You have no idea how many other people have "licked" the same brush.
3) Carry a small water bottle during the quest of your brushes. Most shop and store owners will not mind your wetting of brushes in this manner ( Tri-Dee already has water & brush paper for you to test on) as long as they see you are not bending the tips on the container sides, or jamming them into the bottom of the bottle.
4) Have a small, blank, unlined tablet to gently run a water line with the subject brush to observe the "flow and holding" characteristics and "pallet" flare of the hair.
5) Always carefully return the plastic sleeve to its proper place on the ferrule, before placing an unwanted brush back in the rack. This will also make points with the management ( Sharon's vacation fund thanks you ).
6) Check the spring of the wet brush tip against the paper in your tablet or on the plastic ferrule cover, NOT ON YOUR OILY SKIN.
AGAIN: buy good quality brushes. Brushes made of bristle, nylon, rayon, or other plastic fibers are to be avoided. If properly cared for, good quality brushes will last many years.
Knowing the characteristics of a brush makes choosing the right brush easy. Although any brush can be used with any type of paint, choosing the right brush according to paint type, viscosity, medium, solvents used and surface to be painted will provide the best results.
Brushes are sold by "hair type", shape, size, and intended use.
Types & Sizes: Rounds, Quills, Sables, fans, Filberts( Oval Flats), Detail, liners, Scripts, Rigger, Flats, Brights, Chisel point (deer foot), Angles, One Stroke (Flats), Wash, Mop, Hake and Shaders are sold in sizes 0000000000 (10 zeros) to #28. & 1/16" to 6". (For More Detail on Shapes and Hair types Click Here)
Three categories of Fibres
Which differ in shape, diameter and flag (finest extremity of a hair as opposed to the root):
|Hairs : Hydrophilic and lipophilic. Conical and single flag. They also have a "belly": it begins at the center of the hair length and then becomes gradually tighter. For fine and soft techniques. There are two categories of hair: Extra-Fine (red sable - Kolinsky or Weasel -, Squirrel - Blue, Kazan or Golden -) and Fine (imitation sable, ox hair, polecat, pony, goat, etc.)||Hog bristles : Hydrophilic and lipophilic. Straight or "curved", with multiple flags. For non-aggressive paste techniques (oil, gouache). There are three types of hog bristles: Semi-White, Fine-White, Extra Fine-White.||Synthetic fibres :
Hydrophobic. Up to 7 diameters are used. For 'aggressive' paints,
such as acrylic. They can be straight or "curved".
|Hair Types : Weasel, Finch, Sable, Red Sable, Kolinsky, Hog Bristle, Pony, Badger, Brown Camel, Brown Blue Grey & Golden Squirrel, Ox, Badger, Goat, Mongoose, Polecat, Racoon, Rabbit, Pahmi, water buffalo If its hair it can be used (For More Detail on hairs Click Here)|
Everyday Cleaning & Care:
The longevity of your brushes will
depend a great deal on how good they are and how they are treated and
Oil Brushes: Brushes used in oil based mediums should be cleaned with turpentine, mineral spirits or other brush cleaning thinners. Check the label to see the material can be used for cleaning, as some of the "fast dry" and Reducers will breakdown the fibers in the hairs, damaging or destroying the brush. First wipe as much paint as practical with one or two pulls between the thumb and fingers covered with a paint rag, trying not to hold the hairs so tightly that the hairs are broken or pulled out. Dip the brush in Artist quality thinner swirling the brush removing as much paint as possible and again pull between the thumb and fingers covered with a clean part of the rag. Repeat this process of dip and pull until all sign of paint has been removed and the rag shows only clear thinner. Moisten the hair with thinner and shape. For a healthier method use plain old vegetable oil to clean with and that includes your hands as well ( Never use solvent for your hands)
Soap: Now using lukewarm water and a mild hand soap (or brush soap) that contains no conditioners or perfumes. wet your brush and the cake of soap, and massage the brush on the soap until you see suds. Then lather the brush in the palm of your hand. Raise and repeat the process until the lather no longer shows traces of color. With natural brushes, try to use as little soap as necessary to avoid drying out the hairs too much, otherwise they will eventually lose their shape and spring. No mater what type of brush, be sure to get the paint out of the heel of the brush head where it meets the ferrule ( the metal sleeve that joins the hair to the handle).
Air Dry: Shake out the brush, shape the head with your fingers, let the brush air dry either laying on a tabletop or hanging head down in a brush holder. Store the brushes in a drawer or covered box to keep dust away. Don't dry them handle down, because moisture can seep into the wooden handle between the bristles and the ferrule. This can swell the handle, loosen the head and crack the handles protective lacquer.
Oiling: Dip the brush in clean new vegetable or walnut oil, ( The "OILING' of the brush helps to preserve the strength, memory and spring of the hairs extending the usable life of the brush. The oiled brushes should be neatly stacked laying flat in a covered tray or pan that is longer than the longest brush. Hairs must not be allowed to "set" bent" as this will impart a permanent arc in the tracking of the brush. Never store "oiled " brushes standing upright.
|Acrylics: Brushes used with acrylic
emulsion paints must be keep wet while you are painting, if the paint
dries in the brush you'll have a hard time removing it. The best way to
keep them moist is to suspend them using a brush holder, so that the
bristles or hairs are immersed in the water, but the handle is not. That
way you'll prevent water damage to the handle and keep the head from being
bent. Remember that natural bristle brushes will become waterlogged and
lose their spring and responsiveness if you keep them in water too long.
Water color & Acrylic Brushes: Theses brushes are just the opposite. They should be washed in mild detergent and water to remove all traces of paint. No, rinsing under the water in the sink will not do it, A small amount of dishwashing liquid will usually do the trick and be followed be plenty of clean warm water. Once clean of paint and bubbles, spin the handle back and forth a few times between the palms of the hands, this will air dry the individual hairs and fray them out for inspection. If satisfied moisten the thumb and forefinger with clean water to reshape to the proper profile.
Water base brushes should be stored DRY and standing upright or suspended upside down in an artists coil spring brush holder. If water color brushes must be stored laying flat, roll each brush in a paper sheath or towel to protect the dry brittle bristles. Again, Never bend or flex the dry hair or bristles of any brush.
Special Care for Water color Brushes: Brushes used for watercolor painting deserve extra care since they can be quite expensive. Store your valuable Kolinsky's in a covered box or drawer, along with a container of mothballs or Cedar flakes.
Removing Dried Paint: If you find that you have let some paint dry in a brush, you can try a special cleaner made for such situations: Winsor & Newton Gel Brush Cleaner is one to try. You work the paste like product into the brush let it set, then wash it out with soap and water. Some times Rubbing Alcohol will do the trick to.
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