How to clean Paintbrushes and their maintenance

We all value things that we’re passionate about. For an artist, it is paint supplies. Of all my paint supplies, I value paintbrushes the most. My magic wand as I call it…. So, I’m going to address a very important issue- Paintbrushes and their maintenance.

It is very important that you learn how to clean your paintbrushes. I spent months painting in oil paint, not knowing how to clean my paintbrushes, resulting in dirty hands and clothes too. I had no idea how to get rid of the paint from my brushes. Honestly I tried washing it with warm water and soap and as a result had destroyed too many of them. Mind you, paintbrushes are expensive. So, lets start with the first.

  1. Oil Paint – First wipe off any excess paint left on the brush with a paper towel or a rag. There are a couple of options to clean oil paint off your brushes.
  •  Paint thinner/ Turpentine: You may also get this as distilled turpentine which is less harsh on the paintbrushes
  • Kerosene: This is less expensive. I used this when I didn’t have enough money to buy the good stuff.

You should know that both the turpentine and kerosene have a really strong smell. So to those of you who cannot stand that smell or are allergic to the same, I recommend buying odorless paint thinner. This is slightly more expensive compared to the usual turpentine.

Once you wash your brushes in turpentine, you wash them again in a clean separate  container full of turpentine and then wash it with warm soap water.

2. Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is water based and can easily be washed off with water but you need to make sure you don’t let the paint dry on the brush completely. Once you let the paint dry on the brush completely, getting the paint off the brush is a difficult task. I use turpentine if the paint has completely dried but I try to make sure that such a situation doesn’t arise. In any normal circumstance I wash the brushes once with soap and warm water in the end.

3. Watercolor

Wipe it off on a paper towel. Just wash it in water once and then dip it in another container containing clean water.

Well, now that you know how to wash them, you also need to know how to dry and store them.

  • Dab the paintbrush with a tissue or an absorbent cloth.
  • Rest them on a flat surface over the tissue/absorbent cloth until they dry.

Note: Do not place your paintbrushes standing in a paintbrush holder before they dry or else water will seep through the ferrule and the bristles will fan out or shed as the glue holding them together will peel off. Do not rest your brushes standing bristles-down ever(wet or dry).

Follow these simple methods and you will have no more issues with paintbrushes.

Do come back and read my blog next week. I upload one blog post every week now. My next blog post will not be art related, it will be about some of my crazy travel experience. You can find the subscribe button on the top right sidebar of my website/blog. No spam, I promise. You will only get an update when I publish my next blog post.

If you have any questions/suggestions, mention it in the comments below.

Have a good weekend.

How to get Started with Painting

I got a lot of requests from friends who want to learn painting and do not know the a, b, c of painting, for help. I’m going to help you get started.

First you need a surface to paint on. Canvas is the easiest to start with. Now the basic kinds of canvas you need to know about to get started are

  1. A canvas Board and
  2. A stretched canvas

for beginners. I recommend starting with a canvas board. Buy a small size canvas board to begin with, maybe a size 10×12 inches.

A canvas board is canvas stuck on a hardboard base.

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Canvas Board

A Stretched canvas is canvas stretched over a frame and stapled at the back or side of the frame.

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Stretched Canvas

 

Next you need paints. I recommend buying a set of 12 Camel Students Acrylics 20ml tubes and the same in Oil.(this is for Indians, others can buy any basic set of student grade paints available)

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You will also need a paint palette and a palette knife for mixing paints.

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You will need brushes so I recommend buying a set of round and a set of flat brushes. A set usually includes sizes 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. Make sure you buy taklon bristle brushes. You will need rags or a soft cotton cloth to wipe paint off your brushes before you wash them. You could also use kitchen paper towels.

Some turpentine to wash the brushes is the next thing on the list if you’re working with oil paint. I also used kerosene in place of turpentine only because I had some at home. Don’t forget to wash the brushes with soap after turpentine.  Water is enough to wash the paintbrushes if you’re working with acrylic paints and then a little soap too.

One last thing, don’t bring your worries to your canvas. Bring a lot of patience and just have fun.

TIP: Don’t eat while you’re painting especially when you’re working with oil paints.

So, there you are all ready to get started.

If you have any queries or any other topic you would like to know, please mention it in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe, you’ll find the subscribe button on the sidebar and the social media links below.

Until next time….

How I got to making the Zodiac collection

“Hey, what are you doing”, he asked as he saw me sitting on the sofa completely blank with my hands over my head.

“Nothing”, I said.

“Come on you look weird. Are you sad? Are you going to cry?”, he asked fearfully.

“No, I’m just wondering what to paint next”

“Just pick a nice painting from Google and paint”

“No, that wouldn’t be original”

“Who cares?”

“I care. After making one awesome original painting and selling it I don’t think I should make a copied painting, besides WHO’LL BUY IT? WHICH GALLERY WILL DISPLAY A COPIED PAINTING?”

That statement right there in capitals, that was what was holding me back.

I think most new artists hit this block after their first original or their first sale.

Worrying too much about who’ll buy, Trust me , you don’t want to do that. It will only hold you back. Your main goal must be to excel at what you do. Set goals. But don’t set big goals too quickly. Pick a photograph of anything; a bird, a lion, a beautiful landscape and just paint. See what you don’t know how to paint and paint that. I hadn’t really painted that many paintings. I was just six paintings old and I was worried about making money, whereas I should’ve been worried about improving my skill. After the amazing Lion painting I thought I was ready to start selling. Big mistake!

“Why don’t you paint zodiacs, it will definitely sell”, my husband said.

“You really think people will hang paintings of zodiacs on their wall? They might read their horoscopes every morning but buy zodiac paintings? I don’t know”

“What have you got to lose? Just paint them”

I wasn’t so sure but either way I took his advice. I still didn’t want to copy paintings so I started researching on different ideas. I was inspired by the various tattoos on zodiacs that came up on Google image search. So I took the idea of implementing that in my paintings.

I first made the Scorpio painting. It was a big favorite with so many of my friends. I’ve got lots of Scorpio friends. I wanted to incorporate the symbol too in the painting and so I did. I read somewhere that red favors the Scorpio sign and so I used the color Red. The scorpion was inspired by a tattoo.

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This is how I made most of my zodiac collection paintings. I used tattoos and the colors that favored the different signs. I even designed some tattoos.

My friends who saw the lion painting from my previous post said it looked like an improvised version of a glass painting and hence I used that as an inspiration for my Virgo painting.

SDZ_VirgoWM

I made most of my zodiac paintings like this and I sold most of them. My husband was right. People like hanging paintings of their sun signs. Well, I got enough to buy more paint supplies by selling a few of my zodiacs.

I also got a painting commission from a lovely couple for a couple zodiac painting Leo-Scorpio. It was a great experience. I enjoyed making this painting.

LeoScorpioWM

So come up with an idea or just paint what you love, what you dream about and you’ll keep learning. You’ve got nothing to lose.

You can now subscribe to blog updates in the sidebar by just submitting your email id.

Just leave me a message for any painting inquiries.

Step by Step Progress of my Lion Painting and a bit more….

I made a few more paintings.

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This one I did while I was attending the one week oil painting class that I mentioned in the previous blog post. Anyway, for those of you who didn’t read it, I was actually looking to do something different from the others. So I applied my new found knowledge in this painting. I was very happy with the outcome. It was a copied painting anyway with a few modifications. Nevertheless I thought it turned out good. But I won’t forget to mention, I was still in the guest room at that time and I didn’t have an easel. I was using a chair to place the canvas board. But the true challenge was the cotton trees. We had lots of cotton flower trees outside the guest room and it was the perfect climate for them to shed the cotton. Oh how nightmarish. The flowers everywhere, plus the wind; the strands of cotton got everywhere. I don’t know how they got into the room but I had to pick at my painting with a clean brush every now and then to remove these strands which would stick to the oil paint and refuse to come out.

Luckily a house was available to us soon enough. And I had a new dog now with me; my furry little Foxy. Once I had unpacked and settled down, I made the painting I had mentioned in the previous post. Here are the step by step photos of the abstract Lion painting.

1 2 3 copy4 copy5 copy6Leo

I know that the pictures 4, 5 and 6 look the same but if you take a closer look at it you will know the difference.

Well, not much writing this time. There is a lot one can learn from progress photos and I hope these photos help.

Until next time…. 🙂

My learning sources

After dealing with all my health issues, yet again I was in a new place. Yeah I’ve got to move so very often; woes of being an army wife. This new place in West Bengal was unlike any other place I’d lived in so far. Surrounded by tea plantations and forest and it rained most of the time. But I reached there in the beginning of summer. I stayed in the guest room only for a month here because a house was available soon after we reached there.

Meanwhile when we were still living in the guest room, I heard about a one week oil painting class in the vocational training center conducted by an army wife. I decided to go. It was one of those typical classes where you have to paint what the teacher tells you to. She made us paint a Ganesha painting. Well, I asked her if I can paint anything else but she didn’t agree. She didn’t even let us choose our own colors. We had to paint the same image and she even told us what colors to mix. It wasn’t a total waste though.  There I learnt about mixing colors and working in layers and the basics which I didn’t really know. And yes, I finally learnt how to wash my paintbrushes. Can you believe it? After 4 paintings! We were also given reading material on a few oil painting tips. It was pretty helpful.

I then went online and downloaded ‘Oil Painting for Dummies’. This book is The Art Bible. I learnt loads from it. If you don’t mind reading, then I recommend it to everyone who wants to paint in oil. I don’t know what I would do without it.

The painting that I made after the one week class is my all time favourite. I sold it to my senior from school who now lives in the U.S. It took me about 4 weeks to complete it since I painted it in layers. And each layer took about a week to dry. But it was all totally worth it.

Leo

Mom and Dad encouraged me to pursue an art career after they saw this painting. And my friends loved it too. I got lots of likes on Facebook. I loved the encouragement.

My second big source of learning is YouTube. You find so many painting videos on YouTube; you don’t really need to go to a class if you live in a place where there are no painting classes. You can learn from the comfort of your own home anytime if you have a good internet connection.

They say ‘Practice makes a man perfect’. Well they are right. Time is your biggest teacher. The more the number of paintings you make, the better an artist you will be.

Do come back next week to see the progressive photos of the lion painting.

MY PAINTING TRAGEDIES – The many mistakes I made when I was teaching myself to Paint.

Besides smudging oil paint everywhere and getting it all over my clothes and stuff, I had a lot of other issues with oil painting. I couldn’t really paint much since I spent a month in Bangalore, back at my parents place. And then came leave. Pascal and I spent a while in Bangalore and then in Goa.

You would think I should be happy about marrying a Goan because of the holiday prospects. My friends so often kindly remind me ‘oooh, you’re so lucky; you’re married to a Goan which means every holiday you’re in Goa.’ Well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It is just like dessert, you eat too much and you get sick of it or get zits all over your face. I wouldn’t say I’m sick of Goa, but the novelty has worn off. At least once a year I go there, spend all day everyday on Calangute beach; my in-laws own a business there. I go to Goa now only to visit my in-laws and to see the pure joy on Pascal’s face when he sits on a chair in front of D’Silva’s Shack facing the sea and enjoying his time away from all his work and of course I love listening to the waves.

Back again from leave I was in a new place now in J&K, the winter was unbelievably brutal. I made a heart painting. This one I made for myself. I wanted to hang it in my living room. I kept the painting in my spare bedroom to dry. A week passed and it wasn’t dry yet. I didn’t think that weather would have anything to do with the drying of oil paint. Two days later I checked again and I saw a thin layer of fungus over the surface of the painting. It was the end of winter and it was starting to get warmer, so I treated the painting like anything else that would get fungus. I put it out in the sun. The fungus disappeared after a day. I decided to put it out in the sun in my balcony every day until the painting dried. What I didn’t realize was that our quarter’s outer walls were being painted or whitewashed. Bam! Whitewash all over my beautiful heart.

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I was so heartbroken. My first destroyed painting!

Just so you know, Oil Paint dries through the chemical process of curing and not through evaporation like most things do. The paint develops a skin of dry surface initially but the paint itself takes weeks or months to dry completely. I would also suggest painting in layers and not all at once when you are working with oil paint.

We took leave for a couple of days and visited the saffron fields in Kashmir; the only place in India where saffron grows. The saffron flower is beautiful. Fact: You only get three strands of saffron from a single flower.

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I finally painted this saffron flower over the whitewashed heart. Unfortunately I do not have the photo of the painting.

My next blog post will be about the worst part of my life and the challenges I’ve had to face.

Thank God, I continued painting

The first thing I would tell any amateur artist is ‘Never Stop Painting’. Do not think you cannot do some form of art. You can. You have a choice whether you want to do it or no, but it isn’t impossible.

I wanted to paint more after I was finished with my first painting but I didn’t have any more canvases. Buying more canvases was tricky. I had to wait for someone to be going towards Pathankot to pick up canvases. I had no personal transport. So the next week I went to the same art supplies store again and bought four canvases and made a single four paneled painting.

SD_Orange

I laid the canvases on the dining table in the way I wanted to and started painting. I sketched and I painted but I used a whole lot of paint which took two weeks to dry. My husband saw my work on the table and asked “Where do we eat?” and I made him eat in the bedroom for two weeks. The painting now hangs in an Officers mess in Punjab.

Encouragement from others gets you far. You enjoy the compliments and it makes you want to paint more. Make sure you are surrounded by positive people. I’m glad I was.

Next I decided if I want more canvases, I need to go to Pathankot more often hence I need means of transport. And sure enough, there it arrived on my first wedding anniversary, a brand new car. It was my freedom on wheels. I used to go to Pathankot so often to buy paint supplies. I even used to visit my friend Divya who lived a mere 25 km away, whenever I felt like it. There were times when my husband arrived at the doorstep and saw a locked door and gave me a call ‘Darling where are you? And where is my lunch?’ And I used to say ‘Go back to work and maybe eat out’. That was fun!!

Driving in Punjab is not easy, especially when you are not used to driving. I had to cross a canal bridge which could accommodate vehicles in only one direction at a time; buffaloes everywhere didn’t make it easy, nor did the Punjabi kudiyan.

That’s just a little about my crazy times in Punjab. Do drop in to read more. I’m going to share a few of my painting tragedies in the next blog. Folks who want to learn a little bit about mistakes that you do not want to make as an artist will find it pretty interesting.