How to watercolor brush care the right way

Brush care… Sounds kinda tedious doesn’t it? But here’s the thing, maintaining your brushes is important because well…You don’t want to constantly have to keep replacing them. So instead you make sure to care for them correctly.

In this post I have summarized everything you need to know about brush care into 6 simple tips,

Lets get into it!

Structure of a watercolor brush:

Lets start with the structure of the brush:

1. Keep them clean but avoid over cleaning

Clean them after working with them and never leave let them dry with paint still in them. Simply rinse them with water

Don’t over clean them. You can damage your brushes if you constantly use soaps with harsh chemicals to wash them constantly. I suggest rinsing them gently through clean running water before leaving them to dry.

All in all avoid using shampoo, antibacterial soaps, detergents and hot water when washing brushes. You can use soaps specifically made for watercolor brushes or soaps which are less harsh.

2. Pre- wet your palette

Before any painting session make sure to pre-wet your paint palette using a spray bottle or a dropper (pipette). This will ensure that the paint is soft preventing you from using the brush to plough through the paint.

Never use your brush to dig into dry paint, this will damage the brush causing it to lose it’s shape and will make the hairs rough.

3. Dont leave them in the water jar

Never leave the brush sitting in a jar of rinsing water especially with the tip facing the bottom!

This will cause the brush to lose its shape. Not to mention, the water will cause the handle to expand and eventually crack.

4. Place them properly to dry

Leave them to dry with plenty of room and with the tip facing down or flat on the table. You can place them on a painting board tilted at an angle, just make sure to add a paper towel to soak the excess water.

If the brushes are stored with the tip facing up when wet it will damage the brush. This is because the water will travel through the ferrule and be absorbed by the handle. Thus, causing the finish to eventually flake and fall off.

how to clean watercolor brushes

5. How I clean my brushes

In order to help your watercolor brushes last longer there are certain methods to cleaning during painting and after.

  • Tips to cleaning the brush during the painting process:
    • Use two jars of water
    • Don’t take the brush all the way to the bottom of the jar. Instead hold it about half way and swirl it around.
    • If you switch brushes while painting lay the other one flat on the table and don’t leave it in.
  • Cleaning the brushes after painting:
    • Rinse the brush in clean water or under a running tap
    • Occasionally I will wash my brushes with a soap. I simply wet the soap with water then using the brush I will gently stroke the surface. After this I will rinse it in clean water. Avoid using soaps with additives and harsh chemicals.
    • You can also purchase watercolor soaps, these will come handy in removing the pigment from the belly.

6. Only use them for watercolor

Only use watercolor brushes for watercolor. Keep a separate brush for masking fluid. Never use watercolor brushes for acrylics or oil paint. Watercolor brushes are soft and delicate, meanwhile acrylics and oil paints are much thicker and are likely damage to the bristles.

That’s it for this post on brush care! Next time you take out your paints, make sure to follow these tips!

Happy painting! I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful, if so feel free to comment don below. Make sure to subscribe to my email list if you want tips and updates straight to your inbox!

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