Paintbrushes are the tools of our trade, so it’s important they’re looked after properly. Crucially, a poor-performing brush can affect the quality of your artwork, making your latest watercolour a tepid effort rather than the masterpiece you intended.
Remember that even a good quality brush loses its allure over time, so if yours is looking tired, deadbeat and down-and-out then it sounds like it’s high time you replaced it.
Here are four signs you need a new paintbrush.
1. Shedding bristles
If you start to spot stray brush bristles on the floor of your painting space, it’s time for a new one. A moulting brush is never a good sign – and what’s worse is when the loose bristles start appearing in your artwork.
2. Missing the point
For extra-fine detailing, brushes with fine points – such as sable brushes – are great because the bristles come to an acute, fine point, allowing you to weave intricate strokes into your artwork.
But over time, a bit of natural wear-and-tear (not to mention a spot of over-application) can cause the tip of the brush to spread out, resulting in something more akin to a splodge than a super-fine line.
3. Always dirty
Dirty brush? Time for a new one… paintbrushes should always be cleaned properly – and regularly – but if you neglect to give your brush the care and attention it needs you’ll find that over time it starts to get dirty.
The problem is when a brush becomes permanently dirty and you just can’t get the muck out. This can affect your work as the dirt can transfer to the canvas, ruining your art. While dunking your brush in a tub of white spirit might get rid of some dirt, it won’t remove all of it.
4. Misshapen brush
Brushes can become misshapen for different reasons – if you use the same brush day after day, or tend to be heavy handed when using it. A good brush always returns to its original shape – if this has stopped happening and your brush has started to spread out then buy yourself a new one.
3 things you can do with an old paintbrush
Paintbrushes hold sentimental value. They’re what you used to create your works of art, so don’t feel you have to throw apparently redundant ones away.
- Use a tired old brush for scrubbing your work
- Use an old brush as part of a found art piece
- Use one for dusting nooks and crannies