Caring for Art Materials 101

Contributor: Stefani Allegretti. Lesson ID: 13345

Have you ever used a paintbrush and forgot to rinse it out? What about leaving the cap off of a tube of paint? Yikes! In this lesson, you'll learn how to properly care for art materials.

categories

Visual Arts

subject
Fine Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Art materials and tools need to be cared for in different ways. If they aren't, they won't work properly; that means you, or another student, might not be able to use them again.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to care for the most basic art materials and tools.

  • What happens if you're using red paint and you dip it into a bottle of white paint before rinsing your paintbrush out?

The paint is no longer white...it's pink!

mixed paint

Let's begin with learning how to care for two of the most common art tools and materials: paint and paintbrushes.

Paint and Paintbrushes

Paint is a pigmented liquid, so it's very easy to mix with other paint if you're not careful. So, it's important to remember to rinse out your paintbrushes thoroughly before double-dipping.

Another way to care for paint is to make sure your paint caps and lids are securely fastened or closed on your paint bottle or tube. When the paint is exposed to the air, it begins to dry up and harden, which essentially renders your paint useless.

Let's learn how to properly secure watercolor paint tubes. Take a moment to watch a portion of this video by CraftingKaria.

One tip for trouble-free paint tube opening and closing. Preventing stuck watercolor/gouache tubes:

Remember, when storing or using paints, especially oil paints, read the labels so you know how to store your paints properly.

Let's move on to paintbrushes. If used paintbrushes dry with paint on them, the bristles of the paintbrush will stick together and harden to the point that the paintbrush can no longer be used.

dirty paint brushes

By not properly cleaning your paintbrushes after they're used, you're basically throwing your paintbrush in the trash!

Part of caring for your paintbrushes is understanding how to clean them properly. It's not as simple as sticking them in a jar of water, for example. Paintbrushes are surprisingly more complex than one might think!

Take a look at the paintbrush diagram below:

paintbrush

Image [rotated 90°] by Vinegartom, via Wikimedia Commons, was released into the public domain.

If you submerge a paintbrush in a jar of water so the water goes above the ferrule, it can eventually lead to your paintbrush falling apart.

Let's learn a bit more about taking care of paintbrushes. Watch How to NOT Ruin Your Watercolor Brushes - How to Take Care of Your Brushes by makoccino:

Not all paint is created equal. Oil paint is very different than watercolor paint and acrylic paint because it is used with different types of oils, like linseed oil.

(If you're curious about the chemistry of oil paint, read the article found under Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar.)

So, cleaning brushes that have oil paint on them is more complex than simply cleaning paintbrushes with soap and water. Take a moment to watch How to Clean Oil Paint Brushes by Lena Danya:

As you learned, cleaning paintbrushes that have oil paint on them is a process.

It is VERY important to remember that if you use turpentine to clean oil paint off paintbrushes, you follow the instructions and read the warnings on the label. Also, always use turpentine in a well-ventilated area and NEVER leave turpentine bottles unsealed. This can be toxic, thus hazardous to your health. Again, read the labels before using any chemicals, like turpentine, to clean oil paint off of your paintbrushes.

Now, let's move on to another material used often in art classrooms: clay.

Clay

artist working with clay

Clay is a finicky material. It needs to be kept moist in order to properly mold and sculpt. So, one of the best ways to care for clay is to store it properly.

Clay should be stored by wrapping it in plastic or in an airtight container. This will keep it malleable.

Watch Storing Clay in the Classroom, by AMACO Brent, to learn more about storing clay and clay projects:

Markers, Pencils, and Pens

Markers and inking pens, like paint, dry up if the caps aren't properly secured. Always remember to put the caps back on, and you'll be good to go!

markers

Another way to care for markers and inking pens is to be aware of how hard you are pressing down on your paper while using them. This can cause the marker or pen tip to become smashed and ultimately unusable.

Generally, all materials from colored pencils to pens to graphite pencils to erasers to anything else you can think of should be properly stored in containers or the boxes that they came in. This will ensure that they last longer and don't get damaged.

Let's move on to the Got It! section to see how much you remember about caring for art materials.

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