Masking Tips – how to save your brushes

London architecture©2015-Cathy-Read-The-Weight-of-the-Eye-Watercolour-and-Acrylic-75-x-56-cm- £1300 framed

Don’t you just hate it when masking fluid sticks to your brushes?

Sound familiar? Most artists have experienced this issue. You need to do some masking, but when you finish your brushes are solid rubber and unusable.

I was going to show you a picture, but I don’t have any. Not one ikky brush and I use masking fluid all the time to create pictures like this.

©2015 - Cathy Read -London Eye painting - Watercolour and Acrylic - 75 x 56 cm 600
©2015 – Cathy Read -London Eye painting – Watercolour and Acrylic – 75 x 56 cm 600

Yes, you can do things to help prevent the brushes clogging up, but, if you’re masking any appreciable area, sooner or later you will wreck a brush or three.

It has nothing to do with carelessness or poor brush cleaning. You may have read masking tips about washing your brushes immediately or apply soap to the brush before you start but it’s a simple equation really.

Masking fluid + air +time = gungy mess

The only way to avoid the mess, is to eliminate the time element. Fine if you’re doing small areas but if you cover most of your picture with it, like I do, it’s not going to work. So What’s the answer?

Masking tips #1 -Ditch the brushes!

Use them for painting, by all means, but never with masking fluid

It’s simple really, just use something else!
You can use a colour shaper, a wooden skewer, or a feather (the pointy end) for example. Avoid the business end of a feather or toothbrushes, or else you’ll have the same problem. You may well have other ideas of items that will work equally well as these.
When I first started creating my abstracts I started using lots of different tools with varying degrees of success. Eventually I found one that beats the rest.

The ruling pen

Used extensively by draughtsmen and engineers in years of old, ruling pens are readily available from online Art shops such as Jacksons or Society for all artists. Choose carefully as they do vary in size. You can also pick them up at antiques fairs. Of all the masking tips I can give you, this is the most important.

This is mine!

Ruling Pen
Ruling Pen

I inherited it. Use like a dip pen and you have the only tool you will need. As you can see, there’s a thumbscrew which allows you to close the tips to get hair fine lines. Or open them to get broader ones. Use the side to fill out larger ares.

The masking fluid will still stick to them and solidify but, when it does, all you do is peel off the lump and you’re good to go! Takes a second.

So, try a ruling pen and see, and do let me know how you get on.

Want to learn more masking tips? Then why not join me at my next workshop?

Find out more about workshops

If you know someone who might be interested in this article, then please share it with them.

More Masking tips to follow soon.

 

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