Oil painting essential materials and techniques:
Care of Brushes
Care of Brushes.—The best of economy in brushes lies in your care of them. You should never let the paint dry on them nor go too long without careful washing. It is not necessary to wash them every day with soap and water, but they would be the better for such treatment.
Quite often, once a week, say, you should wash your brushes carefully with soap and water. You may use warm water, but don’t have it hot, as that may melt the glue which holds the bristles together in the ferrule. Use strong soap with plenty of lye in it—common bar soap, or better, the old-fashioned soft soap.
Hold several brushes together in one hand so that the tips are all of a length, dip them together into or rub them onto the soap, and then rub them briskly in the palm of the other hand. When the paint is well worked into the lather, do the same with the other brushes, letting the first ones soak in the soap, but not in the water. Then rinse them, and carefully work them clean one by one, with the fingers. When you lay them aside to dry, see that the bristles are all straight and smooth, and they will be in perfect condition for next painting.
Cleaning.—But from day to day you need not take quite so much trouble as this. True, the brushes will keep in better condition if washed in soap and water every day, but it is not always convenient to do this. You may then use the brush-cleaner. This is a tin box with a false bottom of perforated tin or of wire netting about half-way down, which allows the liquid to stand a half-inch or so above it; so that when you put your brush in and rub it around, the paint is rinsed from it, and settles through the perforations to the bottom, leaving the liquid clear again above it. If you use this carefully, cleaning one brush at a time, not rubbing it too hard, and pulling the hairs straight by wiping them on a clean rag, you may keep your brushes in good condition quite easily. But they will need a careful soap-and-water washing every little while, besides.
The liquid best for use in this cleaner is the common kerosene or coal oil. Never use turpentine to rinse your brushes. It will make them brittle and harsh; but the kerosene will remove all the paint, and will not affect the brush.
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