I love everything about art making. This has always been the case for me, but when I was young I was more impatient. I also had an elevated view about the role of artistes. As a consequence, I was sometimes careless with my equipment. Brushes could remain brush-down in turpentine for days–horror!–until I got around to washing them. This was disastrous for many of them and shortened their useful life. As every dollar was precious to me then, I shake my fist in frustration at my younger self–grrr. Many of those ruins are still in my kit, standing in mute witness to craft malpractice.
Today, I wash my brushes every evening without fail. Today, I enjoy this simple task and, by some magical mechanism, do not find it the least bit tedious.
I wash every brush (I am talking about oil-paint brushes) 2-3 times in lukewarm water. First, I wash them with a bar soap, like The Masters. Next, I use a linseed-based soap, Richeson Jack’s Linseed Soap. This is an excellent soap and not too expensive. Finally, for the sables (most watercolor brushes), I wash them with the last of my precious Ugly Dog Soap. Ugly Dog Soap was made by Studio Products, which, sadly, no longer makes art supplies (the owner claims to have sold his line but has never provided information about the buyer). Ugly Dog Soap was the best soap I ever used. It was an excellent cleaner, and restored and conditioned the brushes as well.
The demise of Studio Products touches a sore spot. I am anxious to avoid depending on a third-party for some critical product. This is why I mix my own mediums; I don’t want to rely on a defunct supplier or one who changes their product.