acrylic on board, 5"x7"
How do you get ready to paint each day? In the studio I get my fresh water, put a canvas up on the easel, and pick the brush I want to start working with. I’ll use a fairly large brush, an 8 or a 10, down to a smaller size for finishing details. I'll pick through my can of brushes, and stroke the bristles until I find the one that fees just right, and will use it for most of the painting.
Bright bristle brushes work best for me because they’ll hold up to the beating I give them. I scrub and scumble as I thinly layer the canvas with paint, and I need a brush that can hold up to that kind of treatment without losing its bristles. Plus bristles give a nice mark, crisp in a new brush, softer in an oldie.
I have a favorite brand, but try out others now and then. Some brushes can’t take the water I leave them in while painting, puffing up like the head of a mop. Others splay wildly after the first little scrub. Some hold the paint in near their ferrules beyond my ability to get them clean, leaving them stiff, with a bad hair look. The best ones will retain something of a sharp edge when I wash them out at the end of the day, and will last for a month or more.
Several of the supply houses were having sales, so I picked out a group of smaller sizes in some brands I haven’t tried to give them a test run. The new, virgin brushes are separated into a can of their own down the bottom of my art cart, and will only get moved up into use when I can’t find a suitable brush in the large can. I love having some newbies in reserve.
I know I should throw away the worst of the old brushes. But throwing away an old brush is like loosing an old friend. I know they've stiffened up and lost their bristles working for ME. In the interest of space and sense I’ll do it now and then with great reluctance, sure that I’ll find a need for a stiff, splayed, discolored, paint-spattered oldie as soon as I throw it out. I feel pretty much the same about my closet.