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How to Maintain Your Paint and Brushes

Updated on June 8, 2013

Uncared for Brushes

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How to Take Care of Your Oil or Acrylic Paints

It is important to take care of your oil and acrylic paints. Art supplies can be expensive, especially if you buy high end paints. Here are some tips to get the most out of your paint.

Squeeze the amount of paint you think you would use during your painting sessions. If you are unsure, squeeze about a dime to a quarter size, you can always add more paint if you need to. Squeeze from the bottom of the tube and work your way up. Roll the tube of paint from the bottom to the top like a sleeping bag as you use it.

Put the lid on right after you put your paint on your palette. Do not wait, because the air will begin to dry the paint especially for acrylics.

When you store your paint make sure the lids are tight. Store paint in a cool dry place.

How to Take Care of Your Watercolor Paints

Watercolors come either in tubes similar to acrylics and oils or pans.

Pans are easier to use because you have immediate access to the watercolors. Pans are convenient for painting on site. There is less to carry around and prepare. Pan watercolors are most used in primary school. Pans last a long, long time.

There seems to be very little, if any, difference between the hue in the paint in watercolor tubes and watercolor pans.

You cannot get fresher paint than straight out of the tube. If you are using watercolors from a tube squeeze the amount of paint you think you would use. Unlike oil and acrylic paint, watercolors from the tube can dry completely and be reused when wet again. A palette designed especially for watercolors will aid in reusing watercolor from a tube.

Do Not Let Brushes Sit In a Jar

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Steps on How To Clean Your Brush

Steps
Oil Paints
Acrylic Paints
Watercolor Paints
1
Wipe off excesses paint on your pallet or with a paper towel
Wipe off excess paint on your pallet or with a paper towel
Swish brush in water container
2
Pour turpentine in a glass or jar, swish brush around in turpentine
Rinse under running warm water
Rinse under running warm water
3
Wash gently using a little bit of mild soap
Wash gently using a little bit of mild soap
Wash gently using a little bit of mild soap
4
Rinse and Repeat until there is no more color coming out of the brush
Rinse and Repeat until there is no more color coming out of the brush
Rinse and Repeat until there is no more color coming out of the brush
5
Use your fingers to gently shape the brush bristles into its correct shape
Use your fingers to gently shape the brush bristles into its correct shape
Use your fingers to gently shape the brush bristles into its correct shape
6
Lay brush flat to dry
Lay brush flat to dry
Lay brush flat to dry
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Products to Clean Oil Paint of Brushes

Bob Ross R6545 Brush Cleaning Bucket and Screen
Bob Ross R6545 Brush Cleaning Bucket and Screen

A happy little brush bucket and screen

 
Mona Lisa 32-Ounce Odorless Paint Thinner
Mona Lisa 32-Ounce Odorless Paint Thinner

Turpentine cleans oil paints off paint brushes

 

How to Take Care of Oil and Acrylic Brushes

Oil and acrylic brushes can be an investment, good brushes can last a lifetime if they are properly cared for.

Never leave an acrylic brush with paint on it. Acrylic paint dries quickly and a brush left with paint on it, even a small amount can easily become ruined since acrylic paint cannot be re-softened once it is dry.

Never leave your brush standing standing on its bristles in a jar wet or dry. Leaving your brush in a jar for a prolong amount of time will permanently reshape the bristles.

Clean your brushes thoroughly after using them. If the paint hardens around the bristles, the brush may be permanently ruined.

Use linseed oil soap or turpentine to clean oil paint off your brushes. Use warm water and soap to clean acrylic paint of your brushes.

Do not use the same brushes for your watercolors, as you do for your oil or acrylic paints. This shortens the life of the brush.

Try to keep your brush handles as dry a possible to prevent cracking and loosening.

Overly used brushes, brushes that are dried with paint on them and cannot be revived can still be used for painting. Experiment with these brushes to get a unique technique and effect.

How to Take Care of Watercolor Brushes

Always wet your brush before picking up watercolor pigments. Do not pick up paint with a dry brush. During your painting session rinse and reshape the brushes you are working with. At the end of your painting session clean your brushes using soap and warm water. Never use hot water. Air dry your brushes by laying them flat on a paper towel or dry surface. When you transport your brushes keep them in a container so they do not become crimped. Do not store damp or wet brushes in an airtight container, mildew and mold can grow.

Do not use your watercolor brushes for painting with oils or acrylics. When applying masks or resists do not use your best watercolor brush. Clean brush right away with soap and warm water after applying a rubber mask.

Never let your watercolor brush dry with paint in the hairs.

Never leave your brush standing standing on its bristles in a jar wet or dry. Leaving your brush in a jar for a prolong amount of time will permanently reshape the bristles.

Never use a hair dryer on your brushes.

Do not pull the hairs on your brushes.

Never dry your brushes with the bristle tips standing up, this will drip the water into the wood of the brush and eventually crack and weaken the brush. After brushes are completely dry it is ok to stand them up in a jar.

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© Copyright Carly Sullens 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      Great hub! I've painted for years and agree that it's important to take good care of your brushes. I *try* to follow most of the steps above, but out of laziness, I occasionally leave my paints and brushes in a sorry state :( These are great reminders. Voted up! Thanks!!

    • europewalker profile image

      europewalker 4 years ago

      Helpful tips, I get rather careless with my paint brushes. You are right, good brushes are expensive and I need to take the time to clean them properly.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      This is incredibly helpful! I always worry if I'm cleaning my paintbrushes properly. Thank you , voting up and pinning your beautiful pictures!

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