Brush Tips for Every Artist
Want to stay on a sure stroke with a little brush savvy? Here are tips on the art brushes you are most likely to use, plus how to customize your own and what brush to use and when.
Don’t Stop at One
Use two or more identical brushes when painting. They’ll let you continue your work with the same types of brushstrokes. Also, you won’t have to rinse your brush every time you change colors — and your color mixtures will stay pure on the brush.
Losing a favorite brush is the worst! If you paint outdoors, pack brushes with bright handles or wrap the ends in neon tape so that you can see them easily and from afar.
Skip the shampoo — but you can definitely use hair conditioner every once in a while on your natural-bristle brushes if they feel dry and brittle. Just rinse well.
Homemade Brush Cleaner
Looking for alternatives to cleaning solvents? Use this mixture of household ingredients:
In a large jar with a screw-top lid, combine 1 part dish soap or laundry detergent, 2 parts vegetable or safflower oil and 4 parts water. Secure the lid tightly and shake the mixture before use.
Can’t find the stroke you’re after? Take scissors to any brush and make an edge that suits you.
● Want soft transitions along a figure’s hairline? comb brush
● Looking for one brush that makes fine lines and, with a little pressure, broad strokes? cat’s tongue brush
● Need to blend blues in the sky or skin tones on the cheek? crescent-shaped fan brush
● Stroking big expanses of color? mop brush
The Upside Down
Store your brushes with the bristle end up, but try to dry them with the bristles down so that water won’t seep into the ferrules. You can buy drying racks and brush holders specifically for the job — or just reach for a clothing hanger and clothespins.
Another option: Repurpose a magnetic knife bar for a space-saving drying rack.
For your signature or tiny painting details, choose a round brush—the smaller the better.
“Store acrylic paint in plastic photo and pill cases slipped into plastic zipper bags. The combined packaging is compact, airtight and fairly leak proof. The paint will stay moist for about two weeks — and cleanup is easy.” —Bev Kindley
For a chance at prizes from Artists Network and to see your hack in the pages of Artists Magazine, send your favorite art hacks to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Art Hacks.”
Taking It to the Tips
Painting techniques and art business know-how all in one resource? That’s a guide worth having. Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee is an eBook that will give you all the troubleshooting and exercises that you want to push your art forward in the direction you want it to go. Enjoy!