Tuesday, August 02, 2016
Observing the Observer
A gal wrote to me recently and asked a question about when to wash paintbrushes, and how to keep from using so many rags/paper towels. Here's my answer, in case you struggle with the same thing:
There is no such thing as a TOO CLEAN paintbrush! That said, you don't need to clean your brush between mixing every color. Often I find I am in a particular color family, and the next mix is still within that family, but either darker or lighter or grayer. For those colors I just add a little bit of new paint to adjust, with all the paint from the original color still on my brush.
That said, if you need to mix a color that has no white, and you have a color on your brush that has even a tiny bit of white in it, you'll need to clean it. Or if you're going for a really saturated color, one that has only one or two tube colors in it, and you have something with more colors than that on your brush, then you need to clean it. I find myself mixing a lot of "grays," (colors that include red, blue, yellow and maybe white), and when I'm going from one gray to another, I don't often have to clean unless the values are very different, and even then sometimes just starting a new pile on my palette is enough.
I often see people with rags IN their hands. I think this leads to 1. much wasting of rags, and 2. potential for getting paint on your hands and then everything else! So for a long time I've been putting my rag (actually I use a folded up piece of high quality paper towel - shop variety) right beside my palette. When I'm ready to clean my brush, I use one side of the paper towel (the right side, say) to wipe off some of the excess paint, then clean my brush in OMS, then wipe the bristles (& ferrule) on the left side of my paper towel. The first wipe gets the majority of the paint off the brush, which keeps my OMS cleaner. Often, with this method, I end up using one or two paper towels for an entire painting! My students make fun of me for it, and for being so clean and never getting paint on my clothes. : )