The Wonder Brush & 5 Tips to Paint Brush Health!

by Mindy on July 27, 2011

in Botanical Art, Drawing Tips, Uncategorized, Watercolor Tips

In response to my latest blog post on "Lifting Veins" I was asked, " What kind of brush do you use to lift veins?"  Many botanical artists use the most expensive Kolinsky Sable watercolor brushes they can find.  Sometimes the saying, " You get what you paid for……." is appropriate. In this particular case I have to admit that I bought the expensive brushes and found them to be "floppy". I love to draw and work with colored pencils. I like the stiffness and ease of control I get with a pencil. When I first started to paint I found that the expensive brushes didn't make me a better painter. I really couldn't control the brushes. I asked other artists what kind of brushes they used and then would quickly go out and buy what ever they were using to see if I could paint better. I think I could open a watercolor paint brush store! I tried the little tiny brushes that have  2 or 3 eyelash hairs and spent more time trying to get paint on the brush, only to run out of paint almost immediately. So after all the trial and error, I use…….. drum roll please……

CHEAP BRUSHES! The chisel brush that I use is made by Loew Cornell, Comfort Grip #3450 Chisel Brush Size #6. The cost is about $3.50 a brush. I buy them by the dozen. Here is a link to where I buy them: http://tinyurl.com/3okxllc (I do not get a commission)

This is what the brush looks like:

It is nothing fancy but it works like a charm. I never use a dry brush. I dip the brush into clean water before I use it and then wipe it on a paper towel (I only use BOUNTY paper Towels!), pulling it to align all the fibers in the same direction. I use the brush slightly damp and usually on paper/paint that is dry. The brush is gently used above or below the pencil line to lift color. I continue to dip the brush in clean water, wipe and continue lifting. If you don't wipe off the paint you have just removed, the brush will not be able to lift any more color.

To keep these cheapy (or any brush, cheap or expensive) brushes lasting a long time here are a 5 tips:

1. NEVER LEAVE YOUR BRUSHES IN THE WATER!

2. ALWAYS CLEAN THE BRUSH AFTER YOU USE IT. 

3. ALWAYS WIPE THE BRUSH IN THE DIRECTION OF THE BRISTLES.

4. NEVER PUT THE BRUSH IN YOUR MOUTH! PAINT CAN BE TOXIC.

5. TRAIN ROUND BRUSHES TO KEEP THEIR POINTS BY TWIRLING AND TRAINING THEM INTO A POINT.

I hope this helps you in your search for brushes. Do you have a brush that you really love? Let me know what you use it for and how you like it!

 

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanessa July 28, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Thank you for the tip on the Loew brush-I just ordered 4 of them. I have been looking for a brush that will work good for lifting and am looking forward to trying it!!

Mindy July 29, 2011 at 7:06 am

You are welcome Vanessa! Let me know how they work out for you.

Jackie Jacobson August 3, 2011 at 1:11 am

This is so good to know. I always buy expensive everything. And I'm certainly not a master detail painter.
Now that I have this tip, maybe one day I'll be able to do something near to, but definitely not as good as your paintings.

Thanks so much for sharing these fine tips.

Mindy August 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Jackie~ Glad you find the tips useful. When you a do a painting, don't forget to post it!
 

Luca M. Palermo August 11, 2011 at 5:32 am

Dear Mindy, you wrote: "4. NEVER PUT THE BRUSH IN YOUR MOUTH! PAINT CAN BE TOXIC."
I zam sorry, but I have that "sin" since childhood! (but only with a clean brush, never with colours). I do this for pointing my brushes… 

Kathleen Garness August 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Hi, Mindy! I agree with you that cost is not the best determinant of usefulness. One of my fave brushes is a Crayola Series 590 sable/synthetic blend. Under $10 for a #8. : ) (I'm not sure they are made anymore but worth a check!)

Mindy August 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Luca~ Oh dear! I totally understand about getting that point on the end of the brush. I used to put the brush in my mouth also to twirl it into a point. I found I get just as good a point by pulling it and twirling it on a piece of paper towel when it is wet. It gives the same result and is safer. There could be residual bad pigment in the brush… but alas…. I know that some habits are hard to break.

Kathleen~ Thanks for your recommendation. I will see if I can find the Crayola brush….. maybe they come in 64 colors!

Luca M. Palermo August 11, 2011 at 8:59 pm

I love your Banana flower with the Caligo brasiliensis!!!

Mindy August 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Thank you Luca! I loved researching it and painting it.

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