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Brush Cleaning Day

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

I am a messy painter. I can try to pretend that it's not so... but my brushes will always give me away.

I don't think I follow one rule of proper brush maintenence. Clean after use...nope, never leave brushes sitting in the solvent... always, reshape before drying... never.

My brushes are always a hot mess and I often wonder how I am able to create a painting with these gummed up bristles. I always have good intentions when I splurge on some new brushes and make pacts with myself to give them the care and love they most certainly deserve, but those promises never fail to be broken. High quality sable brushes get the same treatment as bargain bin brushes... I don't discriminate.

I am not sure how I ended up with this habit. Perhaps I try to paint up until the very last second and don't leave myself enough time to clean up, or maybe I am always optimistic that I will be getting right back to my work or ... maybe I just don't want to do the mundane task.

But today is brush cleaning day. As I gather all the flats and filberts and fans together, and start to work the painters soap into the hardened ferrule, I begin to see life return to these neglected appendages'. The hairs are becoming less stiff and gradually returning to their original shapes and colors. They are resilient.

This ritual makes me thinks about how resilient we humans are. We have the ability to persevere, even when we find ourselves in less-than-ideal situations. We can endure hardships and heartache, neglect and abuse, physical and mental challenges, and failure... and we can bounce back. We only need to believe in our capacity to persist.

As Confucius says, "Our greatest quality is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall."

So, I will continue to take cues from my brushes and my brush cleaning (or lack of) ritual and find resilience and perseverance in situations that are not always ideal.

Just keep swimming...


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