A Frisky Business
by Alfred Memelink
Masking liquid is also known as Resist or Frisk. “Frisk” is the shortest word and as it’s fast approaching beer-o’clock; let’s use it in this article.
How many readers have wrecked expensive brushes using frisk? How many have applied the frisk, washed paint on and realised the masking had not been done properly? Here I’m sharing a few tips that I’ve learned by trial and error + my school of hard knocks over the years.
Protecting the brush
Have you noticed that some brush fibres are SOOO attracted to frisk? It seems that the more expensive brushes, i.e. sable, find the fluid most appealing, and won’t release the bond created. One way to help reduce the bond is to coat the brush hairs with a little soap. I prepare a container of slightly watered-down dish liquid. Twirling your brush in this liquid coats each hair nicely with a thin protective layer before you’re ready to go.
Getting ready to paint
- Use a cheap brush, but one that holds a point well and is a suitable size for the areas you want to mask
- Have one or two meat skewers ready
- Prep an ice-cream-sized container as your brush-rinsing bowl
- Milk bottle top: rather than dipping the brush into the frisk pot each time, I pour a little frisk into a milk bottle top, then put the top back on the bottle of frisk. Much more convenient and helps keep the frisk in good condition longer.
- Use a rubber brush if you like them - whatever they are called?
Applying the masking fluid
Open the frisk bottle and check the condition of the fluid. If it smells, screw up your nose and throw it out. If there is a congealed layer on top of the liquid, peel it off with a brush handle or skewer and throw it out. Shake the frisk bottle well before starting.
As soon as you see that the frisk on the brush is is starting to congeal, STOP, rinse the brush and reapply the protective dish liquid.
If you have some tight corners that you wish to cover with fluid, drop a puddle of frisk near the corner and use a skewer to push the outer edges of the fluid into the corners or edges.
Using a dryer on a painting that has frisk is not recommended. The heat can encourage the frisk to increase the bond between frisk and paper.
When you’re done
Clean your brush in soapy water.
Salvaging a congealed brush: Ask your brother to siphon a little petrol from a car. Frisk HATES petrol and wants to release its bond to the brush when it comes near it.
Painting over the frisked areas
Be sure that ALL masked areas are completely dry before starting to paint. Dried frisk is a yellowy colour, so if there are areas of milky white, the frisk is still wet.
If you start painting and there is a tiny area of still-damp frisk, the brush will pick up the masking fluid, ruin the bristles and spread paint across the area that you had planned to keep white.
Be aware that the thicker the paint you apply around the masked areas, the harder it will be to remove the frisk once the paint has dried. Watercolour washes work best with frisk.
You might wish to apply a watercolour wash, let it dry completely, then mask an area of it before applying the next wash.
Removing the frisk
I use a gentle side-to-side rubbing motion with my index finger. If your finger picks up some paint, STOP, clean and dry your finger before you carry on rubbing, OR you will end up with a messed-up white space.
Have fun! I hope these shared tips make you a little less afraid of using the magic of masking fluid.