This past Sunday began with sorting minis and bases for a commissioned painting project, followed by a couple of hours clearing the workbench and deep-cleaning all my brushes.
I may have mentioned this before, but I think it worth repeating: maintenance cleaning and restoration, the 'care and feeding' of paint brushes, are important and yet often overlooked tasks. I often get lazy about them during the course of a project. I get in too much of a hurry, pushing forward to the next layer, the next color, the next mini. At some point, I start to overload paint, fail to rinse properly between loads, and postpone real cleaning that should be done at the end of every painting session. The result is that paint builds up in the brushes and even the best will start to splay or leave rough bits on a mini. The remedy?
Step 1: a deep and through cleaning with Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer, leaving some in the brush overnight. I leave them laying on their side. Why? Tip-down in a jar is guaranteed to ruin them, and tip-up allows dissolved paint to gather in the ferrule, defeating the purpose of cleaning & restoring. On their side should pull pigment down into the belly of the brush where it can be removed in later steps.
Step 2: rinse brushes thoroughly in warm water, then clean again in W&N Brush Cleaner & Restorer until no trace of pigment remains. Rinse again.
Step 3: "The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver. Some prefer Pink Soap, but I am okay with the old cake style and a little clean water, preferably distilled. The soap can be rinsed away, or the brush can be shaped to its natural form and the soap left to dry. I sometimes do this when I know I won't be using a brush for a while. When the time comes, a quick rinse in warm water is enough to clear the soap for painting.
Now, these cleaning tips will not salvage synthetic or cheap natural brushes that have already curled or splayed, but they will help most natural bristle brushes last a bit longer. And at today's prices for Kolinski sable, I want mine to last for years. Which means I need to stop being so lazy about cleaning, and start to better practice what I preach! :-)