Saving Your Brushes

Q. I started using Liquin medium and I love it. But soon after I began using it I started having problems that may or may not be related to its use. First, my brushes are getting ruined. I paint large and use large brushes, and now I’m going through about 10 of them a session. I use odorless mineral spirits or Turpenoid and Ivory soap to clean up afterward.

I’m also having trouble with brush hairs falling into my paintings. I’ve just recently started using housepainting brushes for the blending because my more expensive 2-inch brushes are getting ruined. What am I doing wrong?

A. You don’t describe how the brushes are being “ruined,” but I can’t think of a reason why Liquin (or any other brand of alkyd painting medium) would have a ruinous effect on them. I’ve used several brands of alkyd medium for years without seeing bad things happen to my brushes, and mineral spirits or Turpenoid don’t seem to be the culprit either.

The only problem I can point to might be the paintbrushes themselves. Even though you say they’re “more expensive” brushes, it could be that for their size, they aren’t the best brushes you can get. But even top-quality brushes can lose a few bristles now and then.

The problem could also be your technique: Do you scrub the paint on in a vigorous, heavy-handed way? I’ve had plenty of brushes that were worn down by my physically active application techniques, but none that have suffered from the use of various mediums. Maybe you should investigate your technique and see whether a lighter touch solves your problem. If that doesn’t work, then I’d suggest buying higher-quality brushes.

Katherine Mesch is an assistant editor for The Artist’s Magazine.

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