Helpful Hints

luvstocraftMay 21, 2008

We haven't done this for a long time, so let's see if we can come up with some helpful hints to share--I love learning new things and hopefully they may be helpful to the newbies too.

Here's a couple to get us started:

1. The handle tip of your brush makes great dots. Be sure to dip it in the paint each time for dots all the same size. Dip it only once to make a series of dots that go from big to small in size.

2. Alcohol is a painter's friend. Use it on a q-tip to remove dried paint. Use it to soak brushes to remove paint that has built up or dried in the brush also.

3. Never leave your brush sitting on the bristles, store them by hanging them or with the bristles pointing up.

I'll stop there for now--will try to think of more to add later.



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I hope it's ok to add #4 in the form of a video? I learned this little trick not too long ago and it has helped me immensely with my shading!

Here is a link that might be useful: Water Drop Shading

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 12:25PM
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Thanks both of you. Anj they say if you use refrigerated distilled water it's even better, though I haven't tried that.

If you need to paint a really teensy area, use a toothpick instead of a paint brush for more control. Toothpicks are also great for making teensy dots.

If you get little lumps inside an old bottle of paint, you can remove the cap, and place a little square of nylon stocking over the bottle, then replace the cap. The nylon will strain your paint.

I read if you always finalize your brush cleaning by using bar soap on your brush it leaves your bristles softer. Is there anything to that?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 8:25PM
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"Alcohol is a painter's friend... Use it to soak brushes to remove paint that has built up or dried in the brush also".

I would never soak ANY of my paintbrushes - especially in alcohol. It is never recommended to soak your brushes for any length of time in anything - even water - because it allows liquid to seep up under the ferrule which will cause damage to the brush. On wood handled brushes the wood will absorb the liquid, expand, dry out and then eventually crack and split. It is best to use something that will remove the dried paint then clean it out of the brush immediately and let the brush dry by either hanging it brush tip down or laying it on it's side.
The last part of that answer brings me to the next bit of info...

"I read if you always finalize your brush cleaning by using bar soap on your brush it leaves your bristles softer. Is there anything to that"?

It can if you don't use a drying soap. Choose a soap that has lotion in it. For many years I have used The Masters Brush Cleaner for my brushes. It will remove all the paint from your brushes, even the hardest dried up paint up into the ferrule, and has conditioners to put moisture back into the bristles. I've even used this stuff to remove dried pigment ink from a cotton t-shirt! I wouldn't clean my brushes with anything else. Good brushes are expensive and I want them to last as long as possible.

A tip I learned many years ago when I started with oil... With brushes that really take a beating, clean them then add just a dab of vaseline to the drying bristles reforming the brush to it's natural shape. Leave this in your brush until you use it again. The vaseline will restore lost moisture to the bristles, help the brush retain it's shape, and give longer life to your brush. Before use, just rinse your brush out in your basin to remove the vaseline. :-)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:15AM
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I love using alcohol, but I don't "soak" my brushes in it. Just a few swirls and the paint comes right out. I immediatley rinse it afterwards.
I have recently read to use Murphys Oil Soap to clean brushes. Any thoughts on that Kraftymom? I have some, but didn't want to try it without knowing for sure whether it would damage my brushes. Will the vaseline really come off in just plain water? ~Anj

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 2:26PM
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Kraftymom, I suggested the alcohol as a handy tip--not something to do on a routine basis.

You probably use much more expensive brushes than I do, however, like you, I normally clean my brushes well and do not allow them to dry with paint in them.

But I have had instances when I got called away and forgot to go back to clean the brush, or when my DH had used one of my brushes and had not cleaned it well, and then I have "soaked" my brushes in alcohol. It removes built up paint and even dried paint and over many many years of painting I've never had a single brush fall apart on me. (If a few "swishes" don't do the job, I wrap a rubberband around the handle and then under the glass and suspend the bristles in the alcohol.) I will grant that the alcohol is probably not the best thing for the bristles, but it's certainly inexpensive and it works! Sure better than throwing the brush away.

I always have Brush Plus cleaner on hand but it does nothing for dried in paint. I had not heard of The Masters. It sounds like a better product to have on hand, especially if it will remove dried paint from clothing! Is it reasonably priced? Can you find it at places like Michael's and Joanne's?

I've never heard the Vaseline tip either. It's a petroleum based product and has a "greasy" feel--I'm curious about it rinsing out well too. Will have to try it on one brush to see how that works.

Anj, I loved the water drop tip. Many times I've washed my brush out and reloaded it when it started to drag--this tip will save time.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 1:01AM
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Wow, there are a lot of things here I've never heard of before.

What would you do with an older latex wall paint brush that could use some reviving (gotten a little stiff)?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 7:23AM
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Great hints by all. I use Ivory dish soap to clean my brushes and leave some on them when finished.
Oceanna, I have the same paint brushes we used when we built our home 13 years ago. I worked with a professional painter at the museum and he told me to always clean your brush with soap and water after using, and then roll in a paper towel folded over to retain the shape and it works great for me. The bristles can't change shape if they are held in place with the towel to dry. If you need to clean with a paint thinner first do that and then go wash with soap and water. I even keep the handles clean because I'm using dawn and a tooth brush, sos or whatever it takes to make then look new again. Another tip I use is the coated meat wrap for my paint palette. I couldn't get any sound with the video for the water drop but from what I seen, I do that alot when painting. If you can help me so I have sound please let me know. Thanks

    Bookmark   May 26, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Great hints! I have already tried out the spray bottle idea and need to find a bottle that doesn't spray a fine mist, but I can see that it will work. I could not hear the speaker, was she using water or floating mix? To me water would "bead" more than floating mix.

I also use Masters as my only brush cleaner. Over the years I have tried just about everything and every trick on my brush's and the only thing that really works is keeping the paint wet in you bristle and not letting it dry out. Sometimes a brush just won't clean up and I keep it for basecoating.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 1:07PM
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I don't know why ya'll aren't getting the sound on the water drop vid...I just tried it and it came right up for me.
Great tips. Thanks for sharing ya'lls.
Luv's alcohol tip has saved me bunches of times not only on dried on paint on the brushes, but it's gotten out paint on my clothes and other places as well. Recently my 4 yr old wrote on my table with a permanent marker and the alcohol was the first thing I thought to use on it and it came right up. Whew! ~Anj

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 8:18PM
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I also use alcohol to clean my brushes but if you don't feel comfortable about using it, try Purell hand sanitizer. It works great too, probably because it has some alcohol in it. Or vodka, I always keep a tiny bottle of vodka in my paint carry all - I don't usually soak any of my brushes in any solvent but I do wet the brush with alcohol and then lay it on my palette for a while to let the alcohol work. I also use Lava soap to wash a brush if it has a lot of paint buildup. The key, I think, is to rinse really well and reform the brush before storing it away. BTW, I have over 300 brushes on my painting table, some are 20 years old. The only time I have had to throw away a brush is when I left my sable brushes in the utility room, one day I went out and there were no hairs on the brushes!! I think a moth or something ate all the hairs just like they do on furs. I have forgotten a brush and left it in a container of alcohol, the alcohol evaporated and the brush was stiff but I was able to save it by working it again with alcohol. The alcohol didn't do anything to the hairs but there is always the chance the glue will be loosened.

Back in the 80's we painted with mostly oils. Can you guess what we used to get oil paint out of our clothes?? Mr. Muscle Oven Cleaner!! That's right, it was the one thing you could spray on your clothes and it would remove the paint completely! At a Priscilla Hauser class I got paint on my pink cotton sweater. I sprayed the sweater, rolled it up and put it in the laundry bag and 4 days later at home I threw it in the wash. The oven cleaner didn't hurt the blouse and all the paint was gone. My husband has yet to understand the logic in carrying around vodka, or using the oven cleaner on something other than the oven, or the sanitizer for cleaning my brushes. I am not advocating the use of oven cleaner on anything, just letting you know some of the crazy things that worked for us in years past.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Hi PF, lots of good ideas. The vodka made me smile--I was thinking taking along a BIG bottle might be good--in case you needed to share with your friends, of course! LOL Just teasing.

I find the alcohol most helpful for removing a painting boo boo that I might have missed before it dried. Just a dab on the tip of a q tip, dab it gently again and again and the mistake disappears without removing the paint below it!

Would not have thought about the oven cleaner either, guess I would have feared it would harm the cloth. I used to use hair spray all the time at work to get ink marks off our clothing. Is there something that works well for acrylic paint on clothing? I've tried lots of things, but have not always had success if I don't catch it while it is still wet.

I love tips like these, especially when we can use common household items instead of having to buy pricey specialty items.

One more question, do you use one of the paint bins for your water to clean your brush? Mine gets so yuccky looking that I've even poured alcohol in and let it soak on the "ribs" in the bottom to clean them. Is there something that works better?


    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 3:04PM
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Hi Luvs, when I get acrylic paint on my clothes in a class I pull out the vodka and blot. If it has dried, after I get home I put an old wash cloth under the spot and then with a toothbrush and alcohol, I have been able to get it out.

I have several water bins. I have one which gets all yucky in the bottom and I clean it with Cascade and hot water, let it soak. I use one of those green scrubbies to break down the paint. Then for the parts that don't come clean, I use the alcohol. I usually paint with two containers, one that I wash the paint from the brush then I dip it into clean water before I start to paint again. Especially when doing faces. Of course, I have dipped my brush in my coffee or soda.

It is a good idea about dabbing alcohol on a booboo. We use to spit on ours and that works too.

I haven't had a lot of time to read all the posts. We have that show in a few weeks and I need to have my share of items finished. Now I remember why I stopped doing shows, it is a lot of work.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 4:11PM
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