Sunday, April 12, 2009

Studio Tip for April

home-made brush washer

I'm probably the only person I know who can get excited about punching holes in the bottom of an empty butter tub, but I've always wanted a brush washer and finally made my own.

I use an empty coffee can for OMS to clean my brushes. The gunk in the bottom adds up and it was always hard for me to get the bristles really clean. So, being the *thrifty* artist I am (meaning I prefer to put my money into really good paints and canvases) I was quite happy when I came up with this idea. The best part - it works!

Take one empty, large butter container. Punch holes in the bottom. Take a utility knife and cut the /\ slots. Fold those pieces up - they are perfect for sliding between the bristles of your brushes for a good cleaning. Put the container upside down in your turp can. Works like a charm. When the turps get too dirty, I pour them off into decanting jars and clean out the sludge for disposal. With my decanting jars, I let the remaining solids settle out of the liquid, then pour off the clear part into a second jar. If necessary, I repeat this process two or three times before the liquid is clean enough to use again in my brush washer.

Note: I have been learning more about wiping my brushes rather than swishing them, and using one brush for each color/value. I've read where other artists are using baby oil for cleaning and then washing with dish washing soap. There are many ways to care for your brushes and I have noticed I rely less and less on the OMS to clean between color changes. The additional tip about cleaning with baby oil (which I do use to clean paint from my skin) is to dip the brush into the oil, then push it down on the palette several times, working the excess paint out of the brush.

Please share your own tips on what works best for you.


peggy koenig said...

Clever idea for cleaning brushes.

A less expensive and less odorous alternative to baby oil is vegetable/salad oil. A large bottle of most any store brand veg. oil (no extra ingredients) will be much more cost effective.

VickiRossArt said...

One of my mentors, Ann Templeton, recommends Murphy Oil Soap or Wisk Laundry detergent for the first wash (after wiping with Viva and OMS). Then for a final wash, use hand soap or mild dishwashing soap. Mr. Les DeMille recommends using your thumbnail deep into the ferrule to make sure all pigment is out of the boot of the brush. His brushes last forever!

Sue Smith said...

Yes, I've heard of the veg oil/murphy Oil Soap/laundry soap too but never tried them. I've used an old fashioned cake bar of laundry type soap that I can't even find anymore, which worked well. That's what I like about the /\ shaped pointy things, for getting between the the bristled at the ferrule while the paint is still fresh and easily removed. It's sure a blessing for my expensive sables.