Cleaning my Brushes

Several months ago I signed up for an e-mail newsletter from an artist named Robert Genn.  The newsletter arrives twice a week (In fact, it’s called Robert Genn’s Twice Weekly Letter).  Genn is a painter, and many of his newsletters are specific to painting, but at the same time, they are…not.  They are universal subjects that really do affect all artists.  I have learned a lot from the newsletter itself, and from the reader comments that get published on the website later in the week.

This week’s newsletter was a response to a question about how to clean paint brushes.  Genn talks about his methods, and admits that there are probably artists all over the world cringing at his treatment of his tools.  (He doesn’t abuse them, really.  It just sounds like he doesn’t exactly do it the way his art teachers taught him).

He then goes on to talk about a fellow student back in art school.  This young man spent a lot of time cleaning his brushes.  So much time, in fact, that he never actually did any painting and was asked to leave.  I think Genn said that the man eventually became a dentist.  And now that I type that, I get how funny that is really supposed to be.  I’m slow sometimes.

As I was snoozing this morning it occurred to me that this is what I have been doing.  I’ve been "cleaning my brushes."  I have a number of things that I’d like to explore, but instead of DOING something about these ideas, I’ve been reading, and thinking, and trying to find the perfect sketchbook or book to alter, trying to find the perfect markers or, pens or….. In other words, I’ve been cleaning my brushes.

Spending time blogging (and thinking about blogging) has started to push me into accomplishing more (like I said last night — in order to post something interesting, first I have to *do* something interesting…).  Yesterday’s newsletter, though, really helped gel in my mind why I feel like I’m spinning my wheels some days.   I think I’m going to make myself a sign, and hang it over my computer:  "Are you DOING or are you CLEANING YOUR BRUSHES???"

First, though, I need to find the perfect paper to do it on.  And should I use markers or print it on the computer?  What color should it be?  Should I decorate it with doodles, or just print the text……… (wink, wink…)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged .


  1. Debby says:

    My brushes are VERY clean =-( But, hey, I did actually find a book I can alter the other day…and funny, it’s “What Should I do With My Life,” which I thought was just hysterical considering all the sould searching I’ve been doing recently on that very topic…It was sitting there on the top of the box of books to go to The Bookman and hit me between the eyes that it was perfect for my purposes…So that step is done…now about the pens and other supplies…hmmmm…=-)

  2. Jeri says:

    Dang it, Suzanne!!! I’ve been cleaning my brushes. What an insight. I’ve just subscribed to Robert Genn’s newsletter. Thanks for the link!

Comments are closed.