As we all know, in the studio its the making mess part that is the most fun….dipping your brush into a lush pot of paint and going for it, slathering on thick hues with your palette knife, pooling watercolour splashes on the page…these are some of the best sensory parts of being an artist.
But we sometimes (self included) forget that the process of making art doesn’t end there. Nope. We have to bring our time in the studio full circle which means cleaning up after ourselves. Now I know this is a pretty dry subject, but I thought it important to share some great tips I have learned along the way on how to scrub and clean our brushes until they are near new again. This will save you money (ever thrown away a perfectly good brush that just got so encrusted with paint it was unusable??) and your brushes will surely thank you for it next time you put them to the page/canvas/ whatever it may be.
Please note this post is focused on cleaning brushes used with water based materials for example acrylic paint & watercolour paint. The method would vary slightly with oil paints, which require solvents such as turpentine to break down and clean.
Messy unloved brushes left standing on their bristles in a tub of water
Rinse brushes under running water to remove most of surface paint and colour
Squeeze excess water from brushes. Now grab some dishwashing liquid – most ordinary household brands will do
Squeeze a decent amount (about a 50c piece) into the palm of your hand, then over the sink massage the dishwashing liquid through the bristles, agitating it as you go so that it starts to bubble, and you see the remaining colour coming out onto your hand. Squeeze the brushes from top to bottom of their bristles occasionally and this will help push any excess out. Sometimes with really stubborn paint or strong pigments, I rinse them with water and repeat this step until the colour stops running from the brushes.
If the colour is extra stubborn I sometimes pull out the big guns…this Incredible Brush Cleaner by Chroma really is incredible, you only need a little, squeeze it on, massage it through then rinse off thoroughly
Lay your freshly washed beauties out on a rag or towel to dry off
Marvel at how awesome you are for giving your brushes some TLC!
This is just one way you can clean your brushes…if anyone has any other good tips/products please share!