Monday, November 7, 2011

Painting- FUN!! ...Washing Brushes - Not too bad!!!

What can be more fun than painting?

Especially in the fall! This is a photo from the side back of our yard looking back toward the house.

Below is a photo of me that Jackie, my husband took without my permission today. I'm painting the trees right behind our house and studio. My studio is upstairs and overlooks the woods. but I had to be outside to feel the light and be eye level with the trees. I have been working outside on this daily at 4PM - but today it was 3 as time changed last night:...

It was a pretty day today!  Here is Scaredy- my cat today - she always keeps me company!
Okay brush washing!
Awhile back a friend asked how I washed my brushes and suggested that I blog about it.
When I'm outside painting en plein air, I rinse my brushes in the portable brush washer and take it inside to my studio to re-rinse in a large vat of Gamisol that I have or wash them with my cleaner on the road. Sometimes I  just use white soap away from home to wash them daily.


The product at home that I use to wash my brushes I heard about from a workshop with David Leffel who let us use his Really Works. It is hard to find but I buy it from a friend  from Jackson and she is the only Mississippi distributor I think. Leave a note below or email me  if you'd like her email. address.

Clean brushes inspire me!!

These are my favorite Trekell brushes! I love them!
This whole set is only $39.20!!! 
 At home, I wash my brushes after several uses. I just rinse them after use in Gamisol in a vat and dip them in brush oil daily when I am finished painting.Weekly I wash them in  Really Works.
Currently in studio I am happy with the setup I have. Because I hate to wash brushes I was delighted that
Robert Harper told me about two products that I now use and love.
The first is an Army ammo box that you can get at Army surplus stores or E bay. I fill it about half way with Gamsol solvent.

Jackie (my wonderful husband and "hand model" here to the left) made me a wire mesh screen to fit the bottom so brushes can swipe across it without getting into the settled sludge.
The vat is perfect to wash out all the paint from brushes daily making sure all the paint is removed and they are almost clean bushes :
Kafka brush Oil  & Preservative  

Rubber seal on the ammo box closes tight to prevent evaporation & for travel!

  • The other product that Bob Harper suggested was  Kafka Brush Oil and Preservative. Mine came from Dick Blick.  
Make sure the paint thoroughly removed by washing them by sloshing them back and forth  the Gamsol (which is purer and safer than turpentine or store brand odorless mineral spirits) or Turpenoid which comes from art supply stores. Then jjust dip (as pictured above) and wipe the excess oil off the bristles gently with a paper towel.

Once a week or so I clean the brushes as the above rinse and oil soak really does not remove all the paint form the ferrel of the brush. I dip the rinsed brushes into the Really Works....and wash them.

Washing brushes:

How to wash brushes: 
  • Dip the brush into cleanser or liquid.
  • Gently message the bristles from the ferrule working out toward the end of the brush. 
  • Repeat rinsing between with warm or cool water until the suds are completely clean and 
  • Also wash the handle at this time. 
  • Do not splay brushes out when washing as it will dislodge, loosen, or break bristles.
  • Do not use hot water - it may damage or loosen bristles. 
  • Gently reshape the bristles and pat dry with a paper towel. NOTE: I lay them flat to dry so water doesn't flow back into the ferrule of the brush 
(BTW- a ferrule is the metal part that holds the bristles on the end of the brush.)

 I hear that Pine sol works well too, but I've not tried it. Really Works smells like pine Sol. I also use white soap occasionally. But Really Works will soak out old dried paint if you have a really messed up brush. I just wrap it up inplastic and leave it a couple of days and then wash it .It's saved a many a brush for me!
New brushes and an unfinished 20x24 plein air landscape I started lately in the woods near our home. 
That's it!  Happy brush washing and happy painting!


  1. Thanks for the hints! I'm going to put Gamsol and Really Works on my shopping list! :)

  2. Teresa- Let me know if you find Really Works on the shelf. I have not found any but there are other hand cleaners but none that work as well.

    Also I wanted to clarify something ... and say that I do recommend everyone to wash brushes DAILY. That large vat of Gamsol allows a lot of swishing of the brush to thoroughly remove almost ALL the paint after each use ...and then I dip it in oil. Otherwise - if you are not doing that- it's smart to wash your brushes after each use to extend the life of your brushes. This blog is about what seems to work for me...: )

  3. At the beginning of your post you mentioned "what could be more fun than painting?" As a musician. I'd have to say I feel the same way about writing music. After reading your post, I'm glad I don't have brushes to worry about, All I have to do is sharpen my pencil! Your painting is lovely by the way.

  4. After reading your post I'm glad I'm a composer. All I have to do is sharpen my pencil! Nice painting,

  5. Betsy- Thank you. That's interesting. When I think of music, I never think about pencils! Being a musician and composer sounds like a lovely thing to be. -Dot

  6. WOW that Really Works is really hard to find, even online! I found it in the UK and Canada before the US! If you have some friends to split the cost, here is a link for a case of 12. http://www.gwjcompany.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79_408_991&products_id=981

  7. Hi Kelly-

    Thanks for that helpful link to buy Really Works. I buy several at a time from a friend who is a distributor in Jxn, Mississippi-3 hours from me- but I see her often. This is an great deal you found here for 12!
    I love this stuff and hope you like it. It is different from ordinary hand soaps that look similar. (I have a hard dried brush soaking in it right now.I will go wash it out and re-soak again with Really Works and it will be re-conditioned and clean in about 2 days!)