Keep your brushes wet when painting to prevent paint from drying on them. Use a small layer of water in one container to keep the brushes moist without wetting the handles (which will cause the lacquer to peel off) and another container to clean the brushes between colors. Acrylic paints are very water-soluble; wash your brushes after useinng each color.
Wet or dry, it doesn't matter how you start your paintings. Just have fun with it!
To supplement your brushes and paint, get a palette knife to mix your colors with—doing it with a brush instead may result in bristle damage over time. Oil paint dries incredibly slowly, and even if the top appears to be dry, the paint beneath may still be wet. That's why it's important to avoid brushing across your canvas back-to-back days or even hours after you last painted on it. The oil in the paint will continue to soak into the canvas until it's fully dried, so you want to make sure not to ruin its surface by applying more oil when it's still damp.
If you do happen to brush off some oil while working on your painting, just put some heat presser pads over the spot and leave it alone for now; the heat will help release the oil without damaging any other parts of your painting.
When you're done with your painting, use your brush to sweep away any excess oil that might have accumulated on the heat presser pads. If there is any left on the pads, it will just burn off when you apply more heat.
Now that your painting is complete, keep in mind that it will remain oily for months if not years after you finish it. So unless you want to smell like turpentine all day every day, it's best to wash your hands after handling it.
Brushes should not be soaked in solvents or water since this might harm the bristles. Use one set of synthetic painting tools for oil-based materials and another set for water-based products. If you don't move back and forth between the two types of bases, cleaning the paint brushes is considerably easier. Synthetic brushes need to be cleaned regularly with a brush cleaner to keep them working properly.
Soaking your own tools is useful when you need to remove some of the old paint for a more even color underneath or if you have run out of cleaner. But make sure that you do not overdo it and leave the tool too long in the bath or it will be ruined.
It is best to clean your tools with an acid-free rag or piece of cotton cloth and avoid using alcohol based cleaners as they may damage the nylon or polyester fibers inside the brush. Avoid using soap as well; all it does is create lather that can ruin the brush' shape.
There are several options available today for soaking tools. You can use an empty spray paint can or a plastic bag and put the brush in the solvent to soak overnight. This will allow the resin in the fiberglass to soften or melt, depending on the type of tool you are cleaning. Then just wash the tool under running water to remove any residual paint or coating material.
A Color Palette Clean your palette as soon as you finish painting! The less time the paint is allowed to dry, the easier it is to clean up. Begin by removing excess paint with a palette knife, then rinse with hot water and massage any stuck paint away with a sponge and a little soap. Finally, scrub the surface with a soft brush to get rid of any remaining pigment.
The best way to keep your palette clean is not to put anything dirty into it in the first place. But if some dirt does find its way into your palette, just wash it off like any other canvas. For an all-purpose cleaner, mix 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts water. Dip a cotton swab into the solution and wipe over the surface of the palette. It will remove most stains.
If you want to take care of a more serious stain, try mixing one part white wine with two parts water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then repeat the process until the stain is gone.
Finally, if you're feeling really ambitious, you can use denatured alcohol instead. It's a strong solvent that will remove most stains, but be careful not to breathe it in!
The key to keeping your palette clean is to avoid putting anything dirty into it in the first place. But if you do happen to get some dust on there, just wash it off like any other canvas.