Maintenance. Whatever you do, you have to maintain your tools.
This could apply to anything from being a car mechanic to a hairdresser. If you don’t take care of your tools, your tools won’t work right for you.
The same applies to artists. You have to take care of your tools. In this article, we’ll talk about taking care of your watercolor brushes.
Now the good news – watercolor brushes are the easiest to maintain between the big three (oil, watercolor, and acrylics). You just need water. And that’s it. (It most cases).
Save your jars. I personally eat a lot of pickles, kimchi, and spaghetti. All three jars are great for storing your watercolor brushes and also for your rinse jars.
When I paint, I have two jars of water. One jar is for the main rinse. The second jar is for the secondary rinse.
Rinse thoroughly when switching colors. This is especially important after using gouache.
I’ve ruined a painting once after painting with black gouache. I went from black gouache to skin color and failed to rinse out all the black from the brush. Then when I painted on my model (Melisa), I got some black gouache on her. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it out. That painting ended up in the trash.
In most cases, you can rinse the colors out with plain water. Just make sure you rinse thoroughly.
In extreme cases, you can add one drop of Dawn soap (we use this soap because they use it to save wildlife after an oil spill) in a jar of water and rinse thoroughly. Make sure to get all the soap out of the brush as I’m sure soap’s not good for the brush’s lifespan.
Note that that’s in extreme cases. I had way too much black gouache in my paintbrush and needed a little soap to get it out. That was me being an idiot and I learned that the hard way. (I still use that brush today and it’s fine).
After my painting’s done, I rest my brushes on a paper towel overnight and in the morning, I put them in the jar.
Bristles up! Always.
Watercolor brushes should last for years and years if you use them properly. Over the years, I’ve added brushes and never had to throw one out.
And that’s it. Taking care of your watercolor brushes is so much easier than taking care of your acrylics and oil brushes.