Notebook, 1993-


Care of Brushes

Do not make the mistake of supposing that you can let tempera color dry in a brush and wash it out afterward without injury. Tempera colors turn quite insoluble after they dry; and if they once harden in the neck of the brush, around the ferrule, it will not be long before the hairs begin to splay and break. Wash you brushes after use with mild soap and water, and take particular pains to squeeze the color out of the neck. Wash the soap out thoroughly, [p. 94] and dress the point nicely. If you take good care of good brushes, they will last for years; but if you do not, they can easily be ruined in a week. Do not try to repair a brush injured by abuse. If the point is winged, so that it makes two lines instead of one, throw it away. If stray hairs stick out, leaving a gap in the arch of the brush, throw it away. If the hairs break off at the ferrule, and the brush accordingly loses its spring and its capacity, throw it away. Do not give storage room to a brush in bad condition. Painting in tempera with a poor brush is exactly like trying to write with a broken pen--it cannot be done well. [pp. 94-95]

[Thompson, Daniel V., Jr., Research and Technical Adviser, The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. The Practice of Tempera Painting. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1936. Fourth Printing, 1946.]



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