Tuesday, August 21, 2007

brush mortality

I go through brushes like crazy, like they weren't $5-$12 each. For every painting I retire 3 or 4 brushes from regular use. Everyone tells me it's negligence and bad brushes and that's somewhat true. Every job ends with me in a zoned out frenzy, not even thinking to put a brush down to wash out the acrylic crust in the ferrel for an hour or more. I've tried more expensive brushes, but they just fall to the same fate.

I've gotten comfortable with a variety of mid-grade brushes-- synthetics for the bulk work, and sable/synthetic blends for details and faces that require more care and finer glazes. And I've acquired a system of moving brushes down an assembly line of jars, from new to very bad, keeping the bad ones around for dry brushing, scumbling and other distressing techniques. This bunch I have now is about 2 years of brushes. I use the big cheap hog hair hardware store brushes for the gesso underpainting, which give nice texture.

As well as painting bigger, I'm also experimenting with painting on a smoother surface which is less tiring on my hand, and probably better on the brushes.


Meghan McCarthy said...

I like your organizational method!

I'm glad you brought this up. I go through the same number of brushes. I've given up paying lots of money for the tiny ones. I go for the 2 dollar brushes with the assumption that they'll last for one illustration. Then they spend the rest of their life in the garbage. Sometimes I use the old ones for make-up stuff like lipstick (I know that's odd)

The only brushes that last longer for me are the Galeria Winsor & Newton black ones. They rock.

Perhaps I'll post about paint. Paint tubes piss me off.


Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

Hi- Hey, I also have the same darn problem with brushes that become ragged and shaggy after a little bit of actual work....paint tubes- dry up, or have inconsistant quality, or they seperate and you get that big ooze of oil before the actual paint emmerges, or the guaches get clogged up...cripes...but here is MY big issue right now, I'm hoping you can help- I cannot find a decent brown acrylic paint (doesn't matter what shade) they are all so gummy and thin- have you found a nice opaque brown?? Thanks- Steph

Anna Alter said...

Ha, Meghan you are hilarious. I know what you mean, paint tubes are a pain in the ass when you are zoned into painting and you can't get one to come off!

Anyways.... brushes. It would be great to know more about what you guys use. Since I just switched to acrylic (my watercolor brushes lasted for years) I'm still experimenting with which ones I like best. So far, I really haven't found any smallish brushes that keep a fine point for very long... which are your favs?

Anna Alter said...

Steph- I use Golden brand raw umber a lot, thats my favorite brown. And when mixed with ultramarine blue it makes a really nice grey.

Anonymous said...


What is in the pail?

...and will you show us your palette? How do you organize it?

(My hairdresser gave me the coolest little keys for using with my tubes of paint.)


Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

Thanks Anna-

Brian Floca said...

Brushes! I used to use this brush or that brush without thinking about it and then years ago the great Ted Dewan, just moments after I'd met him, gave me a Raphael Kolinsky sable watercolor brush and I've never looked back. For good or for ill I think there's nothing else that goes up in usefulness in such direct relation to its price.

I receive no monetary compensation from the Koninsky people for typing this.

Linda S. Wingerter said...

7 comments! woo hoo!

Brian, what media are you working in with those sables?

Steph, I always used Windsor Newton Finity acrylics, I love their earth colours, siennas, umbers, ochres. They vary in opacity, but I rarely use a colour straight from the tube, mixing raw umber or burnt sienna with ultramarine or pthalo blue red shade is da bomb.

We'll all have to do a palette shot soon.

Linda S. Wingerter said...

Oh, some dirty dish water in the pail, apparently. I don't even remember what all that white was from.

Anna: Windsor Newton Universitys are my true love.

Brian Floca said...

Linda: Watercolor.

I guess everyone else is talking acrylics, huh?

Once I've read something twice I usually get it.

Linda S. Wingerter said...

Hee hee I don't think I was very specific, but yes, acrylics.