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canvasishome
04-06-2007, 10:40 AM
Hi,

I've tried and tried using and to like using acrylics, but just am having a difficult time of it. I want to like using them for their convenience, quick drying time, and low odor.

The problem I have is mainly with brush cleaning. When I use bristle brushes, I find I must let them soak in the water tub for a while to really get the paint to loosen up enough to get the brush clean. I can do it quicker if I use a brush scrubber in the tub bottom, but then the bristles begin to splay. I would like to clean them fast, as painting plein air the paint dries quickly on the canvas.

If I use synthetic or nylon brushes, I really have a hard time getting them clean. I must soak the brush for a while and then beat it in the tub to get the pigment out.

I've tried using multiple brushes (one for each color, or temperature), but that gets to be a pain in the field.

Besides just using a palette knife to paint, are there any suggestions from you veteran acrylic users out there? Or is that just the way it is??

Thanks in advance for any advice.

-dk-

idcrisis55
04-06-2007, 10:44 AM
Do you use a brush cleaner or a bar of soap to clean the brushes? I use two containers of water, one has baby shampoo in it, the other one is plain water for rinsing. When I'm through painting I give them a thorough clean with Ivory soap.

canvasishome
04-06-2007, 10:48 AM
Hi Ann,

I, too, use two water buckets - one for cleaning/dirty water, other for clean water. I only use the soap for cleaning at the end of the session when I want to thoroughly clean them for the day.

I will try the soap in the water to assist cleaning while painting. I never had heard of that one.

Thanks.

-dk-

idylbrush
04-06-2007, 10:51 AM
I use almost synthetic brushes exclusively. When painting I dip the brush in water first, usually a combination of water and soap. Wipe the brush and then into plain water. This seems to help prevent the acrylic from locking into the ferrule a bit. I also wipe my brushes continuously on either paper towel or cloth. If you are doing PA painting then it might be of value to have a large zip loc and wet papertowels to wrap your brushes in for the trip home and clean them at home.

I use a soap foamer with an orange based soap and scrub the brush in the palm of my hand until the soap runs white not colored. Rinse and rinse again and dry with the hairs/bristles hanging down, not standing on the hairs/bristles but hanging down. I use spring clip clothespins and hang the brushes over the edge of a counter or table.

Over time you may get some build up and there are some great acrylic paint cleaners that will help. Acrylics are rough on brushes so a synthetic may be a better option than a natural bristle brush.

You may also want to check in the information kiosk for other cleaning tips. The link is in my signature line.

hoofty
04-06-2007, 10:53 AM
Ann can you explain a little better about the two containers of water. Do you let the brush you have just used soak in the water with the baby shampoo in it, then rinse it in the plain water when you are going to use it again for another color? I'm not quite sure what you mean.

Einion
04-06-2007, 11:07 AM
Okay - become fond of acrylics... now!
I order you to like acrylics!
Pretty please like acrylics.

Any of those help?

The problem I have is mainly with brush cleaning. When I use bristle brushes, I find I must let them soak in the water tub for a while to really get the paint to loosen up enough to get the brush clean. I can do it quicker if I use a brush scrubber in the tub bottom, but then the bristles begin to splay. I would like to clean them fast, as painting plein air the paint dries quickly on the canvas.
Well tip #1 from me would be: don't use bristle brushes. Wow, that was easy :D

Besides just using a palette knife to paint, are there any suggestions from you veteran acrylic users out there?
Rinse thoroughly and often. Use a little dishwashing liquid in the rinse water (makes a big difference in some places). Use a double-bath system.

Einion

canvasishome
04-06-2007, 11:24 AM
Okay - become fond of acrylics... now!
I order you to like acrylics!
Pretty please like acrylics.

Any of those help?


Well tip #1 from me would be: don't use bristle brushes. Wow, that was easy :D


Rinse thoroughly and often. Use a little dishwashing liquid in the rinse water (makes a big difference in some places). Use a double-bath system.

Einion

Yes, sir!! :)

I just get so jealous walking down the acrylic aisle and seeing all those neat paints and mediums calling out to me...... "I'm here" ..... "Buy me!!"

Better living through plastic, right?!

Thanks, all.

timelady
04-06-2007, 11:34 AM
I only use bristle brushes. The paint never dries on them. I 'wash' my brushes with soap maybe once a month. My brushes never ever ever EVER just sit on the palette. They are either being used at that very moment or sit in the water bucket.

ALWAYS put your brush immediately in water between using. Even if you know you're going to pick it up in 3 minutes or so - in the water it must go. Then squeeze in a rag to dry it and use it again... Mine even sit in buckets of water overnight, and for weeks. :)

Tina.

Helen Zapata
04-06-2007, 11:48 AM
Tina, you beat me to it. I was going to say.. never EVER let the brush sit with paint in it. Either you are actively painting with it, or it's sitting in water. Don't hold it in your other hand while you work for a minute with another brush. Nope.. into the water it must go!

I do the same thing as Tina. I dislike cleaning my brushes, so mine will sit for days and even weeks in a bucket of water. Every now and then I take pity on a brush that's been sitting too long and never being used, so I'll clean it properly with soap and water and put it away. But for the most part, they are living in a water bath. As long as I haven't allowed the paint to dry, there's no problem.

Helen

canvasishome
04-06-2007, 11:51 AM
I only use bristle brushes. The paint never dries on them. I 'wash' my brushes with soap maybe once a month. My brushes never ever ever EVER just sit on the palette. They are either being used at that very moment or sit in the water bucket.

ALWAYS put your brush immediately in water between using. Even if you know you're going to pick it up in 3 minutes or so - in the water it must go. Then squeeze in a rag to dry it and use it again... Mine even sit in buckets of water overnight, and for weeks. :)

Tina.

Oh, yes - I know not to ever let the paint dry in the bristles. I put the brush in water as soon as I'm done using a color and keep them wet. It's just I have to work and work at getting all the pigment out when changing colors, for example. With watercolor, it's just a swish or two. With oils, it's a good rub or two on the brush scrubber in the turp can. Acrylics just seem to want to cling to the hair. I guess it's jusst the nature of the material.

I will try the baby soap tip.

idylbrush
04-06-2007, 12:58 PM
I recently saw someone using a shallow butchers tray with about 1/3 inch of water in it. The brushes are laid in the water and the handles hang over the edge. That way the bristles are not in a standing position. Thought that was rather clever.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Apr-2007/36241-butchertraybrushes

It would look like this but with water added.

I also use a 3 water tub system.

One container has water and soap (marked in red)
One container has water and flow enhancer (marked with yellow)
One container has water and nothing else (marked with green)

Makes it easy.

mseymour
04-06-2007, 01:20 PM
I use a 9"x13" baking pan about half-filled with water and put the brushes immediately in the water with the handles resting on the shorter edge. I clean the brushes at the end of the session by rinsing them clean in running water. No soap, although it might help keep the brushes softer. I use both bristle and synthetic brushes.

rassilier
04-06-2007, 01:28 PM
I recently saw someone using a shallow butchers tray with about 1/3 inch of water in it. The brushes are laid in the water and the handles hang over the edge. That way the bristles are not in a standing position. Thought that was rather clever.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/06-Apr-2007/36241-butchertraybrushes

It would look like this but with water added.

I also use a 3 water tub system.

One container has water and soap (marked in red)
One container has water and flow enhancer (marked with yellow)
One container has water and nothing else (marked with green)

Makes it easy.
That is quite an assortment of goodies you have there. Which is precisely why acrylics can be such fun. You can use everything but the kitchen sink in the making of your art. Not a boring medium, to be sure.

idylbrush
04-06-2007, 01:36 PM
That is quite an assortment of goodies you have there. Which is precisely why acrylics can be such fun. You can use everything but the kitchen sink in the making of your art. Not a boring medium, to be sure.


Dern it you are so right and what you see here isn't even 10% of what I have and I still keep looking for more. Dang!

LavenderFrost
04-06-2007, 01:56 PM
I keep a glass of water for rinsing and let the brushes sit in it when not in use. I also keep a paper towel to wipe the brushes. I use Folkart brushes and their cleaner... and I just don't expect them to last long, lol. That's it, I like things simple. But I think the problems with brushes is making branch out into other mediums.

Café LoLa
04-06-2007, 01:57 PM
That's a really good idea. I think I'd get a foil cake pan or something like that for plein airs as well.

idcrisis55
04-06-2007, 02:14 PM
Hoofty, I wipe all the excess paint off of the brush before swishing it in the soap water. I swish until it looks clean and I may even rub it on a bar of soap if the paint isn't coming out the way I like, massaging the soapy bristles. I rinse again in the soapy water then the clean water. I rarely leave a brush in the water. If I am not through with the color on the brush I will spray the sta-wet palette that has acrylic paper on it lay the brush on that and then take a soppy wet paper towel and drape over the brush(es). I liike Howard's tip with the flat container very much.

timelady
04-06-2007, 02:35 PM
Ah, I see now. Yes the paint does 'cling'. I do have a scrubber thing in the bottom of my bucket and rub the brush against that to clear paint off. I try to 'scrub' it from the flat side rather than squishing the bristles down into the mesh and rubbing, if that makes sense? I do find that the better quality the brushes (with my large bristle brushes) the less they splay from doing this. I wouldn't go expensive but mid-price seems to work quite well for me. But I do work with very large brushes, 18 is my usual size, so the ends splaying a bit isn't as critical as it would be with a small brush. (My faves are A S Handover varnishing brushes. :)) I go with cheapies for small brushes.

One approach is when you do clean them at the end of the day use some sort of conditioner on the bristles (I leave a bit of Masters soap on mine as a conditioner) and then wrap in a paper towel and lie flat. The paper towel will dry and help shape the bristles.

Tina.

bionicanaconda
04-06-2007, 03:57 PM
I mention this every time this question arises. My tried and true method is to soak the ferrule in Acrylic retarder briefly and wipe off as much excess as you can.

Andi59
04-06-2007, 03:58 PM
"Atelier Interactive Artists Acrylics" have an extended dry time, might be your ticket. I just picked up a 7 tube set(Generous 80ml tubes). Nice tubes, but they are plastic, which may not puncture as easily during plein air romps, great caps, that tighten but dont strip. The consistancy is nice, slightly thick and creamy.

http://www.chromaonlinenew.com/chroma/products/atelier_interactive

The Merri Artist has them with free shipping if you buy $60.00 worth of merchandise

http://www.merriartist.com/

.....

AK

canvasishome
04-06-2007, 04:00 PM
I mention this every time this question arises. My tried and true method is to soak the ferrule in Acrylic retarder briefly and wipe off as much excess as you can.

Sorry, a bit confused by this. How do you soak the ferrule without getting the bristles in it too? Or do you mean dip the whole end of the brush - including bristles and the ferrule?

Thanks.

bionicanaconda
04-06-2007, 04:05 PM
Sorry, I meant soak the whole end of the brush in.

cadub
04-06-2007, 04:24 PM
I've saved brushes stiff with mod podge using the gel hand cleaner.

Step 1 With regular acrylics - i rinse with water and scrub (I hot glued 8 plastic paint brush handles together) I bot the kids brushes and laid them head to foot and glued them over a hole cut in a plastic pail lid.

Step 2 - blot the brush and work in a little hand cleanr - you'd be a mazed at the excess paint left in the brush. Sometimes I leave it in to dry. Never damaged any brushes.

One cheap brush had been stiff with mod podge, but the hand cleaner saved it.

I also have a large container for rinsing and a small container of fresh water.

Carol D

Lulu
04-06-2007, 04:57 PM
soaking the brushes in water and hair conditioner does wonders for reviving brushes too, even if the brush has gone hard with paint.

dreamz
04-06-2007, 06:33 PM
I usually wipe off as much paint as possible on either paper or a piece of panel and then swish it in the dirty water contanier and let it sit in the water until I want it again, then I swish it some more in the dirty water, tap out the water and into the rinse container, swish and tap and into the final clean water container, swish , tap and dab onto a pad of paper towels. If just changing colors all the steps take maybe 90 seconds

*Violet*
04-07-2007, 03:48 AM
I also use a 3 water tub system.

One container has water and soap (marked in red)
One container has water and flow enhancer (marked with yellow)
One container has water and nothing else (marked with green)

Makes it easy.

curious ... what is the ratio of water to flow enhancer in your yellow container? ... and total volume?

and do you go from one paint colour to red to green to yellow to new paint colour ?

canvasishome
04-09-2007, 01:05 PM
Hi folks,

Reporting back. Spent the weekend trying different things noted here.

The good news is that I found the combination of using baby shampoo in the water together with putting a bit of acrylic slow dryer on the brush worked great.

The paint was very easy to clean off between color changes and didn't seem to be quite as "sticky". I used both synthetic and bristle brushes. I am happy with this method.

Thanks for all the tips. Oh, and Einion - I'm happy to report that I (once more) will be using acrylics with great joy again! :)

-dk-

C_Line
04-09-2007, 06:56 PM
Another great tip that I learned at a Home & Garden show for quickly cleaning acrylic paint out of large paint brushes - & it works on smaller ones too - liquid fabric softener in water - just pour about 1-2 cups some water in a container pour in a capful or two - swish around - it really loosens the paint off the brushes - not to mention conditioning them.

On a side note - the same principle applies to cleaning stuck on foods off pans/casseroles - only put water in dish/lay a fabric softener sheet in water, let it soak a few minutes & wipe out container with sheet. Magic! Just be sure to wash it afterwards :lol:

Bill_E
04-09-2007, 09:42 PM
I use almost synthetic brushes exclusively. When painting I dip the brush in water first, usually a combination of water and soap. Wipe the brush and then into plain water. This seems to help prevent the acrylic from locking into the ferrule a bit.

I have to ask, have you ever had foaming problems because of soap residue? I ran into this once when doing a glaze with a brush that I neglected to rinse well enough.


As far as brushes, I use whatever works, but I love my beat up hog's hair bristles for coarse blending and soft nylon brushes for washes or thick color application where a little more finesse is required. I also have a selection of stiffer synthetic brushes and a few sable riggers for whatever else. Those little signs on the store shelves that say what the brushes are for...I ignore them ;)

idylbrush
04-09-2007, 10:56 PM
Never had a foaming issue but I am fairly careful to wipe most of it out before painting.

idylbrush
04-09-2007, 11:18 PM
curious ... what is the ratio of water to flow enhancer in your yellow container? ... and total volume?

and do you go from one paint colour to red to green to yellow to new paint colour ?


I use one part flow enhancer to 20 parts water. I generally mix no more than a total of four ounces at a time and use maybe 1 ounce in the cup.

I wipe the brush first. then a couple dips in the soap water, wipe again dip again and wipe again. A quick rinse in rinse water bucket. wipe again

Go to a new color.

I then use the water or flow enhancer depending on what I need at the time.

This is my setup.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Apr-2007/36241-setup.jpg

Hope this is of some help.