Tips on how to maintain your paint brush

Tips on how to maintain your paint brush

If you’re seeking ways to keep your paint brush in good condition, these recommendations will point you on the right path.

As soon as you get home, unroll or unfold brush carriers.

If you’re bringing your brushes to a workshop or a Plein air session in a brush carrier, make careful to unroll or open it immediately upon arrival to enable moisture to dissipate. It is preferable to remove your brushes and let them dry fully before repacking, although this may not be possible during a multi-day course or while traveling. However, take the time to open your paint brush container and air out your brushes.

Apart from the issues of handles breaking and ferrules loosening, storing brushes in a closed container might result in mold growth. Numerous watercolor paints include additives such as honey or glycerin to aid in their moisture retention. While a jar of honey is unlikely to develop mold due to its low water content, molds like the (very diluted) honey in your paint! Once mold contamination occurs in your brushes or paints, it may be quite difficult to eliminate, therefore it’s better to avoid allowing it to begin.

Do not be alarmed if a paint brush becomes smushed and dries in an unusual form.

While I’m sure some of you spring out of bed looking perfectly put-together, my hair is prone to bed-head. Fortunately, a shower corrects this.

Occasionally, a paint brush falls to the bottom of your tote bag and develops “bed-head” as well. It may be somewhat worse than my morning hair, since the paint brush may have been there for days or even weeks before being detected.

Using warm water, you may reshape the paint brush. If it’s been hidden in the bottom of your tote bag for an extended period of time, you may need to massage it for a few minutes under warm water before it cooperates. If that is insufficient, dab the paint brush to remove excess water and reshape and secure the bristles with hair gel. Once the brush has dried, just rinse out the hair gel as you would wash from a new paint brush, and you should be good to go. I’ve had to repeat the technique a few times on rare instances to thoroughly restructure the paint brush.

Trimming a brush to a better point is not a good idea

Occasionally, a paint brush hair or two may stick straight out to the side, and the warm-water method will not resolve the issue. The brush hair may be partly broken in this instance, and the best treatment is to cut that one (or two) hairs at the ferrule. However, do not attempt to alter a whole paint brush with trimming.

It is just not effective. A paint brush comes to a point because it has long hairs in the center AND because each hair (even synthetic ones) has a natural taper. Trimming the paint brush eliminates the natural taper and decreases the likelihood of obtaining a nice point.

Three typical reasons why a paint brush will not come to a sharp tip are as follows:

1. It is inadequately constructed

Regrettably, there is no way to correct this. The simplest method to prevent this issue is to get your brushes (at least the more costly ones) from an art supply shop that allows you to test the paint brush in clear water before purchasing. You can read about These tips will make your paint brush last long by visiting

Even a high-quality paint brush might be damaged during delivery or by other customers using it in the shop, so this is particularly beneficial if the paint brush is not sized or protected. While it may still be a perfectly excellent paint brush, testing it will confirm that it has not been harmed.

2. The brush’s longest hairs have been damaged or split.

A decent natural hair or high-quality paint brush may last a few months or a lifetime, depending on your style. To break down a paint brush in a few months, you have to be rather tough with it, although forcefully stabbing at the paper, scrubbing, and dry-brushing may be taxing on a paint brush.

My approach is to use one of the beautiful synthetics or synthetic-natural hair mix brushes available today, to paint freely, and to replace the paint brush every two or three years.

As of today, a size 14 Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sable brush (long regarded as the “gold standard” of watercolor brushes) retails for $499! (However, because nothing sells at “list price,” you’re likely to find one on sale for “just” $300-350.) A size 14 retails for $1299!!! Yikes!

I’m not sure who purchases these brushes, given you can get an as nice (in fact, I believe superior) Escoda kolinsky size 10 for between $50 and $80 ($120 for a size 14). Until roughly five years ago, this was my go-to paint brush.

However, synthetic brushes have improved to the point that I much prefer to use a considerably less costly synthetic and not have to worry about treating it gently enough. Not only are synthetic brushes less expensive, but they also typically hold up well to more aggressive painting methods. My go-to paint brush at the moment is either an Escoda Prado or a Silver Black Velvet. I can get a size 12-16 for less than $25 and it will last many years before losing its sharp tip. Given how often I paint and how frequently I use this paint brush, that’s not bad.

When I get a new one, I continue to use the old one (there are occasions when a sharp tip is unnecessary).

3. There is something dried in the ferrule.

This is a much bigger issue with acrylic than with watercolor, but even with watercolor, dried paint or binder (gum arabic) in the ferrule base inhibits the paint brush hairs from resting as near to one another as they should, preventing the tip from coming together sharply.

If a brush seems to want to split into two points, it is nearly likely due to dried muck in the ferrule.

If the issue is with watercolor, ordinary water will dissolve it; nevertheless, it might take an unexpectedly long time to dissolve stuff that has dried within the ferrule. Capillary action is required to transport the rinse water up there and then back out. Click here to read more about Capillary Action.

You may expedite the process by holding the paint brush handle in one hand and the paint brush hairs in the other at the ferrule, and forcefully wriggling the whole mass of brush hairs back and forth near the ferrule. If you use a little amount of shampoo or soap, you will often be able to see the color flowing out of the ferrule in the soap foam, which can assist you in ensuring that you have removed all of the dried paint.

If the dried substance is acrylic paint or glue, it is often possible to remove it by wriggling a citrus-based cleanser (such as CitraSolv or GooGone) into the brush hairs near the ferrule and allowing the cleaner to migrate into the ferrule. Allow it to soak overnight before washing with shampoo or castile soap. This procedure may need to be repeated multiple times to completely remove dried acrylic paint or adhesive.