This blog post’s title is not self-referential, it’s about brushes. I am getting older, but more than dirty, worn out, or misshapen, I am cheap and very particular about my materials. I know other painters that use their new brushes only a few times before retiring them, preferring the clear square/round shape, and everyone from time to time wishes they could just throw their brushes out rather than cleaning them.
So here’s a simple studio trick I have been using for the past couple of years to squeeze a little life out of an old brush, I was showing my group of students this morning and thought I should share them here as well.
Personally, I like my brushstrokes to have an irregular shape; I don’t like the same touch to repeat itself everywhere in my painting. Typically, these days I paint with mostly flats, filberts and a few rounds, and once in a blue moon a rigger or egbert. Mostly hog bristles with an occasional kolinsky sable or mongoose hair brush. I don’t much like synthetics and use them rarely.
Although I keep my brushes for a long time and don’t mind as they wear down, they have to keep a distinct calligraphic shape. the brush you see above and below was one I typically would retire- throw in with all the other old brushes for scrubbing in the background or mixing colors. You can see the belly of the brush has become swollen, and errant hairs have started to take over, and paint in the ferrule has fossilized the bottom of the hairs.
I grab a sharp knife, and basically sharpen the brush as you would a wooden pencil with a knife- slowing cutting from the front and back before sharpening the sides. I only cut forward, away from my hand, and work slowly to not cut off more than necessary.
Just like sharpening a pencil with a knife, it takes a bit of practice, but I really like the end result, it definitely brings some clarity back to the shape of the brush. Believe it or not, I had the gall to show this trick to Symi from Rosemary Brushes last time she was here in the studio. I’m sure she found it slightly offensive, but did remark its a much better way of rejuvenating a brush than cutting the tips down to attempt to make a ‘flat’ out of an old brush.
Also, starting today Keith Linwood-Stover is featuring my work on his website, The Cyber Art Show. First gallery of 12 pictures went up today, other 12 will be featured tomorrow. The way it works is he picks all the paintings he likes and puts them up with an artists’ bio, straightforward. Though I only just discovered his website he’s featured tons of artists and many impressive painters in his archives. Check it out.