Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thoughts on (Cheap) Brushes

Looking for different types of painting brushes on-line on a budget is not easy. At all.

I'm still in the process of learning how to paint, and learning how different types of brushes work. The best way to find out is to I guess use different types of brushes myself, right?

Each brand makes so many varieties of brushes. Sure, some websites nowadays mention the length and the width of the brush head because sizes in numbers don't mean anything. And they usually say 'long handle' or 'short handle.' That's it? I want to know how long your long handle is, on every brush size. I want to know if the handle becomes extremely skinny two inches away from the ferrule or gradually becomes skinny towards the end of the handle. How springy is a 'superb spring'?

I was spending too much time sitting at the computer instead of painting. So I went down to two different art supply stores just to take a look in person, and ended up buying 6 brushes in 2 varieties only because they were $3.99 each.

Big mistake.

Although I was aware of short life expectancies of cheap brushes, the way their lives ended one by one within days of each other was so funny that I actually laughed out loud en plein air a couple of times. And I'm known for not laughing out loud enough in hysterical situations.

the first casualty, death by decapitation

It's too bad, because I really liked these brushes - not too stiff, not too soft, with 'superb spring' one might say. But we weren't meant to be together, for more than two weeks.

this happened to the rest of them

Was it me? Honey talk to me. I'm begging you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

DIY Paint Brush or Painting Pouch (Or Handmade Bubble Mailer)

Getting ready for air travel is a lot more complicated these days than let's say back in February 2001: My husband and I took a trip to Japan together for the first time, and we had a huge bottle of shochu in our carry-on luggage on our way back to the U.S. There were gallons of (somewhat) flammable liquids on that transpacific flight.

I've been doing some research on flying with my painting gear, and I almost gave up couple of times. But hey, painting on location seemed like a nightmare especially without a car, but it hasn't been that difficult once you got what you needed to make it happen. So here is what I did today in preparation for my upcoming painting trip - I made a paint brush pouch using double bubble insulation material, insulation tape, and velcro tape.

why don't I just buy a nice brush wallet at art supply stores?
I didn't have time or $20.
Recycled plastic grocery bags have been my brush bags of choice. You just cover your brushes with leftover paint at the end of the painting session, double bag them with grocery bags and stick them in the freezer at home. My teacher Phil had taught me well: the brushes last longer that way and you don't have to clean 15 brushes every night.

Obviously you shouldn't take a long trip with oil paint-covered brushes so I washed them today. Now what? I have to pack them nicely into my checked baggage so that the airport security won't declare them weapons.

scissors, a sharpie and a ruler are my friends forever
Some of you may be thinking, but wait, is using reflective material a good idea for air travel, even in a checked luggage? The answer is no, and it is a horrible idea. But my suitcase will be inspected anyway with all the paint tubes and palette knives and whatnot, so at this point it doesn't really matter. All I can do is label everything so that it is obvious to the security personnels that they are for painting and not to harm anybody on the plane.

I can hear you saying, why don't you just use a bubble mailer? Sure. But I didn't have one around. Instead I already had this huge roll of insulation material that I bought to make giant pouches to fit my large paintings. By the way those pouches really work well for both framed and unframed paintings because they are basically, you guessed it, reusable giant bubble mailers. Although not suitable for shipping, in-town delivery to art fairs, galleries, etc. is a breeze thanks to my lovely shiny insulation buddies.

The material cost here maybe much greater than a $20 brush wallet with nice zippers, if you had to buy everything I mentioned. But as I said, they were already here at home, and you can make about a hundred little pouches with one roll of insulation. Plus I got to make things myself and pretty soon this brush pouch will be covered with my fat sharpie doodles. You can't do that on a fancy brush wallet, can you!?

finishing touches: two pairs of velcro strips
this even fits inside my palette!