I am having a problem with my brushes fraying at the edges during the painting process. Invariably, the little hairs around the edges start sticking out in different directions, picking up paint and putting it down where I don't want it.

I bought Silver brush company bristle brushes at the art store, as these were the top of the line offered there. There is less fraying with them than others, but any fraying is bad.

I don't mix paints with my brushes. I use the palette knife to keep the brushes from going back and forth too much. I don't press them in the turps cup either--just dip and wipe carefully.

I wash them carefully after use with "The Masters" brand brush soap and reshape them. They dry straight, but re-fray during use. I have even tried the old trick of tying them with a string wrapped around the bristles while drying. All to no avail.

I am now wondering whether I should spend more money on something else, but what? I see some pros use Rosemary Brushes, but am not convinced that they would be different.

What has been your experience? Any advice?


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Betsy, I think the problem has to do with either paint that gets into the ferrule and is not removed or with soaking the brushes in water too long.   If you are using water miscible oils, then water is the likely problem and you should use synthetic brushes (brushes made for acrylics).  If you are using alkyd medium, then paint drying in the ferrule is the problem.   After you wipe the paint off your brushes, you should wet them in OMS, wipe them again and then use the brush soap.  It could be the scrubbing when you clean them with the Masters brush soap, because it is solid.   You could try any liquid soap like the Da Vinci "Mona Lisa" brush soap or the linseed oil soap from Richeson or even your kitchen liquid hand soap.  If you let the brushes sit for awhile after dipping them in liquid soap with the bristles up, the soap will get under the ferrule and should clean out any paint that is under the ferrule.  I would not count on any brush to hold a sharp edge for too long.   Princeton makes some really cheap sythetic brushes ($1.99 and $3.99) that seem to work well and keep a chisel edge.   The other possible problem is that you are painting on an abrasive surface (not enough gesso on store bought canvas or linen panels) and you just need to put a coat or two of gesso on your panels before you paint.  You can usually tell this by looking at how much fresh paint is robbed of its oil by a thirsty surface.  I hope this helps some.   Stu

I use Liquin medium, and then usually only for the first lay-in and then later to "oil up" the canvas a bit on days after the first session. After the first lay-in, it's pretty much straight paint, unless it's really stiff like some ochers are.

 I use Turpenoid to clean out major paint first. (I wonder if that's a contributor?) Then I use Ivory soap at the sink and then finish off with the soap cake. I will try to let them soak upright with the Ivory a bit to try to get paint out. I  like the cake soap, because it feels like its conditions the brushes. I am very careful not to scrub hard.

I do use store bought Fredrix canvases, and some even cheaper ones for class practice and studies.. It didn't occur to me to lay on another coat of gesso, since they all claim to be pre-primed. But I have gesso, so I'll give it  go. I do notice some really dead looking areas of paint, after the paint has started drying, so I surmise that's what you mean by oil-sucking canvases.

Thanks again for all your terrific advice. It is so wonderful to have someone so knowledgeable to help me. This board is great! Thanks!


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