How to Store Artist Paintbrushes (and Other Tools) Like a Pro!

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Time to tidy up! Learn how to store your artist paint brushes successfully and keep them clean, pristine, and at an easy reach! Good quality art brushes aren’t cheap, as you may know…and even more expensive to replace if they get too messed up.

Yep, I’m talking about choosing good artist brush holders. There are some that make them easy to transport from room to room (along with your other tools) and others that are more stationary. All of them will help keep and store your treasured brush collection on a dime!

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how to store your art brushes

 

How To Store Paint Brushes Between Painting Sessions

To the left is my brush collection before I got it together – pretty messy right? This storage bin’s top tray was designated for brushes; but it came with a flat plastic clear bin of which I have (whoops – my bad!) somehow misplaced.

art brush organizer   brush storage caddy

Some brush holders are designed to tidy up your passel of brushes when you’re working, and make them easy to retrieve. Sometimes I would make a habit of only picking out a few brushes to start with, because I know that all that cleaning could be a chore. But once I got my hands on a special caddy it got more manageable.

This brush basin (the image on the right) became my BFF while painting – It has different sized holes to accommodate different brush diameters so all of your brushes from the skinniest liners to the wider flat brushes, stand up straight like little soldiers in a row.

The inner compartment is designed to hold your brush cleaning substrate; it has inner grooves to assist with periodic cleaning. I love this thing, and never got set up without it!
best art brush holders

Sometimes….if I am doing a certain painting job that only needs a few brushes (like a project in which I am just doing something simple or preliminary like applying a base coat) I don’t need all that “stuff” on hand.

After I finish and have rinsed out my brushes, I blot the excess moisture, give the bristles a little “fluffing” and just stand them upright in a coffee mug like this – bristles upright, always – and let them dry. Hey , no one says you have to get fancy 100% of the time 🙂 So nothing wrong with having a “designated” cup for your collection. Simple and sweet.

storing art brushes

What to Look For in a Good Brush Holder For Storage?

Irrespective of how they look, the best art brush holders share this criteria:

  1. Adequate ventilation – The bristles get dipped in paint and solvent on a daily basis, and it’s important that they can air out to some degree; it will help lessen the smell, and help expedite drying too.
  2. Brushes should not be on top of each other – They each need to have their own slot or opening and be able to spread out so the bristles will retain their shape.
  3. Brushes need to be either lying flat or standing up straight, with the bristles pointing upward.

Brush Caddy with Drip TrayBrush Caddy with Drip TrayShop NowBrush basin with built in paletteBrush basin with built in paletteShop NowHolder for brushesHolder for brushesShop Now

Built-in compartments like the first two above have are great because they consolidate everything….you have space for cleaning solution, if any, a lid to keep it from sloshing out, and a place to keep the brushes lined up side by side, so you have an easier time getting set up.

How To Store Your Art Brushes On the Go!

If you’re an artist, or maybe even an art student taking classes, and you find yourself traveling or needing to go from place to place with your supplies in hand, it’s probably going to be a hassle to have to lug around bulky containers – including those above.

I got this idea from my art professor in college – he had one of these fold-out cases with little slots in it for each of your brushes. You could roll it up and tie the attached strap around it, and be good to go! I was able to locate some of these and I must admit I’m envious – I wish I had had one of these when I was taking classes!

Another great thing about it is that the ends are open, which allows your brushes to get adequate ventilation so they aren’t stuffed into a closed space (which could ultimately warp the bristles). However, at the campus bookstore, I found another nifty tool (keep reading…)

paintbrush storage container tube

This long plastic tube here is what I had to keep all my brushes in for my painting class. Do you like it? You can grab one just like it right here. I really like it (and still use it) only problem is that it’s a closed container – it smells pretty “painty” whenever I open the cap to get a brush out.

I solved that problem by drilling a few holes for ventilation in each end which worked well. You may want to consider doing that too – just a minor design flaw, no big deal. Otherwise, it’s a nice catch all, and it will easily hold about 20-25 brushes (if you have tiny detail bristle brushes, it may hold more than that.)

Other than that little bugaboo, it’s another good way I stored my brushes in between sessions doing work. The storage case on the right is exactly like the one I misplaced. It’s a good brush holder as it has little foam dividers so your brushes aren’t on top of each other. If I do manage to recover mine, I will update this post!

Storage case for BrushesStorage case for BrushesShop NowPaintbrush Storage TubePaintbrush Storage TubeShop NowClear Plastic storage caseClear Plastic storage caseShop Now

Storing Other Art Tools

If you’ve got a fine cadre of other art tools, you know they need to be well cared for and organized too. Most of them are made from wood, some plastic and others a combination. I like Murphy’s Oil Soap for getting residue off of the wood tools – it’s gentle and won’t strip the natural oils from wood. For storage, all my tools have recently inherited the Art Bin:

It has been quite awhile since I bought my ArtBin, so one just like it may be harder to find, but I have seen some cases that have compartments and a slide out tray to arrange your tools. This one I found has all of the above, plus a nice latch on the front to secure it and a carrying handle.

sculpting supplies organized

I got tired of digging through my things and finding my clay, paint, tissue paper, etc., etc., all together was too chaotic, so I got busy changing that. The designated slots are perfect for organizing multiple paint tubes (usually less than 4 oz) as well as pencils and craft knives.

In the bottom compartment, I keep the bulkier items (like clay bricks). Best of all, the compartment levels slide out all the way, and collapses, and then contracts back to go anywhere you need.

Conclusion

Thanks for letting me show you how to “brush up” artistically here! I know from experience that it is easy to get careless and let a brush get slightly damaged and hard to get it back in tip-top shape. You took the plunge and bought high-quality brushes with the intent of them lasting long, now give them the security and protection they deserve.

Now you know exactly how to store your art brushes and other tools – enjoy your newfound, chaos-free painting ease and flow!

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