Much Ado About Brushes

All this month, we’re having a blowout sale on all of our Princeton brushes and brush sets. Princeton Brush Company makes something for every painter, from soft watercolor mops to silicone catalyst wedges great for shaping heavy body gels. Here are some ideas for how to take advantage of this incredible deal and make the most of your brushes.

Paint A Picture Using Only One Brush

onebrushThis is the best way to get to know the limitations and special properties of any brush. Instead of switching brushes constantly depending on which area you’re trying to paint, paint an entire picture using just the one. You’ll begin to get a deep sense of what that brush is good for, and what it’s not as good for. You’ll also find out a lot about your own skills and proclivities- have you been using a specific brush to get out of painting things you’re worried about? Have you been leaning on one brush so much that your brushwork is getting stale? Doing artistic exercises like this are just like switching up your training at the gym- use one brush and exercise some underused artistic muscles.

Try A Brush Shape You’ve Never Tried Before

specbrushes.jpgCat’s tongue? Grainer? Deerfoot? Spotter? Liner? Fan?  This is not just a string of nonsense: all of these are less commonly used brush shapes. If any of these sound made up to you, its time to try them out! Cat’s tongue brushes are used in watercolor for precision tapered shapes, grainers make a series of repetitive thin lines, great for hair and fur. Deerfoot brushes help with stippling effects. Spotters and liners are perfect for fine details, and fan brushes are a favorite for landscapes where foliage needs to be added in a hurry. One of these brushes could be just what you need for that tricky effect you’ve been trying to achieve! Check out Princeton’s “What does that brush do?” page for more specialty brush ideas.

Buy A Set And Flesh Out Your Collection

setsIt’s always nice to have the right tool for the job, and if your brush collection is just a couple of rounds and a couple of flats, now is a great time to expand your toolkit. Princeton’s RealValue brush sets are a great way to flesh out your collection. There are a variety of sets, long handle and short handle, from camel hair watercolor sets to assortments of bristle brushes for oil. These sets are also a great way to supply a new painter with all the tools they need to get started, or to supply an artist who is switching mediums with a set of brushes for the new paint (using the same brushes for oil and acrylic isn’t a good idea).

Try a Princeton Catalyst Product

catalystPrinceton’s Catalyst wedges and blades are silicone tools halfway between a brush and a palette knife. Blades are like brushes, with a wooden handle and a flexible silicone top, and wedges are hand held tools that allow for close range, large scale paint manipulation. They can be used to move paint around, add texture, sculpt clay, and even frost cakes! They are especially good for large scale works and heavy body paints. They are heat resistant so they work well with encaustics, solvent resistant so they can be used with many different mediums, and they clean up thoroughly (although we don’t recommend using the same brushes for paint and food!). They come in a variety of shapes that help with making a plethora of new and interesting textures. For more info, check out Princeton’s website. If you’ve never thought about adding these to your collection, now is the time to consider them. At 40% off, they’re a great deal for a unique product.

Upgrade Your Sad Student Brushes

badbrushesIf you’re like me, you bought a large quantity of brushes when you first got started learning how to paint, and you tend to only replace brushes as needed- “as needed” meaning “only when the ferrule falls off, and the paint is chipping off the handle and falling into your palette, and all the hairs are sticking out in different directions”. This is behavior that befits a broke college kid, but is not the best way for an adult artist to treat their tools. Now is an excellent time for you to take a hard look at your brushes and decide which ones are still good, and which ones need an upgrade.  This is especially important if you’re working in watercolor, where a few wayward hairs could put color where you don’t want it to be (an artist’s least favorite thing). Sort brushes into three piles: keep, rehab, and replace. Your brushroll and your future paintings will thank you.

Clean & Treat Your Brushes Right

masters-brush-soapAll the brush sales in the world won’t help you if you treat your brushes badly! Make sure to clean them thoroughly after each use, and never let paint dry in the bristles. Keeping some linseed studio soap or Master’s brush cleaner around your studio is a good idea. If possible, hang your brushes to dry, and never leave brushes standing bristle-down in water or solvent. For misshapen brushes, reshape the bristles with a drop of gum arabic. You can also dip synthetic brushes in boiling water to get the shape back- check out this video for a how-to. If you’re good to your brushes, they’ll be good to you!

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