Easy Commute, 30"x36"
People often ask me about when I first became interested in art. All I can say is, as a little girl, I remember not liking dolls very much; I remember playing with Hot Wheels -- the same track I gave to my son to play with some 25 years later, and drawing the little cartoons in the back of magazines in the classified section. You remember, you sketched the pirate or the puppy or whatever, mailed it in, and you might get to take lessons at a "real art school" to see if you could be a "real artist."
Another very vivid memory that I have which does involve playing with dolls, is one where I set my Mrs. Beasley doll and my Barbie doll side by side (Barbie must have thought Mrs. Beasley was a giant) and taught them how to clean paint brushes. I remember distinctly showing them how to "work the bristles gently in your hands, and clean the bathroom sink very well when finished."
Today, I still actually enjoy cleaning brushes; although, I admit, I rarely do so. There is no sink in my studio, so it means taking them home when I feel they are just desperately calling to be cleaned. There are many ways my artist friends take care of their brushes that are extraordinarily elaborate. (NOTE: Most of these friends have assistants to do the work for them every day.) However, if I had a sink in the studio, I would certainly clean mine more often. Personally, I find that using the same brushes day in and day out, they really do not need much attention. Maybe that is because I am pretty hard on them on the canvas so when they wear out, they wear out, and it has less to do with my cleaning process and more to do with my painting process.
Here is my process for taking care of my brushes --
First of all, before I ever dip my brush in my odorless mineral spirits, I thoroughly pull all of the paint that I possibly can out of the brush with a paper towel or cloth. I do this between paint color mixtures to keep my color fresh. By pulling so much of the paint out before cleaning the brush, my OMS stays fairly fresh for weeks. At the end of the day, I make sure each of the brushes I have used is really swished well in the OMS. If I am going to be painting again the very next day, that's about it. If I am going to be out of the studio for several days, I go to the next step as well.
I have a second can of OMS which is kept very, very clean. Actually, it is Turpenoid Natural. (I do not use this as my regular OMS because it is a little too oily for my preference). I swish my brushes around in this a final time to make certain there is no paint at all left in the bristles.
Every few weeks or so, my brushes get a great cleaning. It is therapeutic for me and really conditions them. For this I use Ugly Dog Brush Soap found at www.naturalpigments.com. It is all natural and not only cleans well but leaves the brushes feeling nice. Another great thing is that it comes in a little tub. You just put a little water in the tub and run your brushes back and forth similar to the way you might do it in the palm of your hand, except by using the tub, you are not scrubbing pigment into the palm of your hand!
Once the brushes are very clean, I pull all of the water out of them with an absorbent cloth. Finally, I reshape the bristles and tame any loose hairs by applying either walnut oil or vaseline. While living in Italy, I used olive oil (although I am not suggesting that you do that). It seemed to do just fine.
So the image at the top basically has nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to share what is on my easel this week. Apparently I am still in St. Lucia in the quaint little village of Choisel.
Happy brush cleaning!