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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Shaping brushes after washing.ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2019-07-07 20:15:27 ... Most recent comment 2019-07-16 22:28:29
    Oil Paint Paint Additives Studio Tools and Tips

    ​As stated, I want to be able to wash brushes with soap and water, shape them with the help of some product, and use them in the morning without having to rinse them in sovent.
    Candidate products so far are saliva, gum arabic, egg white, and maybe milk. I'm leaning toward gum arabic.

    My question is, will any of these unduly affect the paint film if it is not washed out of the brush before using?

    Ron Francis.

Answers and Comments

  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    Just to be a little clearer, I want to shape them while the brushes are still wet after washing.

    Ron Francis.​

    2019-07-07 20:18:11
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    In theory, I would not use milk or egg white as they can eventually become insoluble if you fail to wash them out. Gum Arabic will not do this but again, in theory, the dry residue would likely become incorporated into the paint. I keep writing “in theory” because in practice, this is unlikely to cause any real problem. The percentage left in the paint would be infinitesimal.

    There is really no issue with saliva (HOWEVER make sure to not put the brush into your mouth as there be some remaining pigment or metal ions, also do not transfer the materials from the brush to your mouth).

    On the other hand, I also knew a painter who would shape their expensive kolinski brushes with the wash water and then reinforce the point with a single ply of toilet paper. They would then remove that at the beginning of the next painting session. It seemed to work well for her.

    Brian Baade
    2019-07-07 20:48:39
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    Thanks once again Brian.​

    My main concern about gum arabic is the possibility it may be reactive in some way. If it is inert, then I can't see how it could pose a problem.
    I imagine diluted would be better.

    Thanks for the recommendation not to put brushes in my mouth. It would be easy to think the brush would be clean so it wouldn't be a concern.

    Ron Francis

    2019-07-08 02:36:17
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​I think methyl cellulose would be worth considering for this application. 

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2019-07-08 17:36:24
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    Brian, any comment on methyl cellulose?

    And Mathew (and Brian), I've found that hairs can be softened by manipulating between my fingers when I've tried gum arabic. That is, it doesn't have to be rinsed out. Would this be the same with methyl cellulose?

    2019-07-09 22:38:47
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Methyl cellulose is generally a weaker, less brittle adhesive than gum Arabic and may be a better solution. It should still be a very weak solution. It would function the same in that it could be manipulated our by hand if of the proper weak solution (you would need to do experiments to find this out yourself). Like gum, this means that a tiny amount of it will get incorporated into the oil paint but at that level I cannot see it causing future harm.

    Brian Baade
    2019-07-10 14:52:14
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​Thanks Brian.

    I'm finding that gum arabic powders off fairly readily before use. 

    Rather than dipping into a solution, I'm applying it with my fingers so that it appears to form a skin on the outside rather than penetrating.


    Ron Francis.

    2019-07-10 17:16:02
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​I have used hair conditioner for a number of years - no problems and brushes stay in shape

    2019-07-16 21:53:08
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    I doublt very much that hair conditioner is a good idea, but I'll leave it for a moderator to omment on that.

    Ron Francis​

    2019-07-16 22:06:05
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Hair conditioner contains a vast number of components including non-drying oils/fats, emulsifiers, and a wide array of materials that would certainly condition the hairs of your brush but could really compromise any paint that it is contaminated with. It may be all right if one rinses the brush in water and then an organic solvent before using with oil paint. I would caution against this practice unless one is willing to be scrupulous in the above practice. This reminds me of the practice of sign painters keeping their sign painting quills in lard or mineral oil to keep them conditioned. These needed to be scrupulously washed in organic solvents before use or the sign paint would not “dry”.

    Brian Baade
    2019-07-16 22:28:29

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