Thursday, October 16, 2008


There are many kinds of brushes in the world. Lint brushes, hair brushes, bottle brushes, wire brushes... Last week one of my paint brushes broke. In over four decades of painting, making art with paint brushes, I don't believe I've ever had a brush break like that.

It’s hard to believe that some of these brushes I have been using more than thirty-five years. Actually, a few are so worn down they are practically nubs, but I love my brushes.

In the early 80’s when I was a painting contractor (doing freelance writing at night) my paint brushes were like intimate friends. Even those brushes I loved, and my paint rollers, too.

When you care about something you take care of it. And paint brushes need special care or they will end up all gummed with dried paint, thereby becoming useless.

It’s interesting how the different brushes create different effects. With flats you can lay the paint down thick and get wavy effects. Oriental calligraphy is created with fine tipped brushes that almost have a teardrop shape. And of course the various brush styles all have names. Rounds, brights, fans, riggers, mops and the domed filbert.

My favorite brushes have been so used that many are quite a bit shorter now from when purchased long ago. As they scrub across various surfaces they become increasingly worn down. Some do little more than smear the paint on the surface like applying lipstick. Some simply stain it.

In point of fact, there are many ways to apply paint to surfaces including rags, fingertips, and pallet knives. The photo at the top of this entry, however, only shows a few of my brushes. Maybe I'll show you the rags, fingers and other tools another time.

Making art can be very gratifying as well as personally rewarding. As Thomas Merton noted, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Whether it is painting, making pottery, or creating a garden, as you lose yourself you often in turn enrich others. Hopefully some of my work here on this blogspot has done that for you.

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