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Old 04-14-2013, 05:34 AM
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ImpastoArtist ImpastoArtist is offline
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How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

Hi everyone,

No doubt this has been covered before... But I thought I would see what advice is out ther at the moment regarding cleaning brushes from oil painting.

To date I have been using some mid range priced (and lower range) for much of my painting. This has been for blocking in main colours/shapes etc.

I have treated myself to a few higher quality brushes as of late... And I'm loving them!!!

Now I want to make sure these new found friends of mine are kept in tip top condition. So time for some advice from the great Wetcanvas community!

Question time...
What is the recommended regime to follow for cleaning brushes after a session at the canvas?

Looking forward to hearing your replies.

Visit my website: http://www.markduggan.co.nz/
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:46 AM
Ribera Ribera is offline
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How to Clean Brushes?!. . . Help!!. . .

At each session’s conclusion, I swirl ‘em in a
solvent container to remove the heavy stuff; then,
in the sink, I swirl ‘em on my soap, till, as I push
the soap outta’ the hair, only clean soap comes
out - Viola, it’s clean!!
Naturally, before puttin’ ‘em away, as I dry ‘em
out, if so required, I work the bristles back into
their proper shapes.
If that’s maintained with each session, only the
classic wear ‘n’ tear’ll wear ‘em down; use any-
thing, in time, it wears out.
Some greens’ll tint the bristles somewhat - In-
I am, of course, aware of the idea of when a
brush has become particularly bent outta’ shape,
to work some clean suds into it, then allow it to
dry hard, so it’ll moreso resume it’s shape.
Anyone know a better way to restore worn-out
brushes, please share.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:16 AM
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RembrandtEternal RembrandtEternal is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

Mark, welcome to WetCanvas Yes, this topic has been posted many times, in fact I may have posted the very topic when I first joined back in December.

After painting session, I clean brushes in this order:

1. Wipe off excess paint on clean paper towel like a Brawny type. You can also use small towels if you want.

2. I don't just swirl my brush in the turpentine right away because I want to make sure that brush cleaning turpentine in my glass jar won't have to be recycled so fast. My method now is to just dip the tip of the brush in the pure gum turpentine, then I re-wipe on the paper towel, or towel/rag to remove more paint. I do this a few more times until very little paint comes off.

3. Once I am happy that not too much excess paint lives in my brush I will gently drag my brush across the top of the Silicoil jar full of Pure Gum Turpentine. (I use turpentine and not spirits or Gamsol since my mixture has Damar Varnish and you need real turpentine to properly clean the brush.) I will do this a couple times and in between yes, wipe on paper towels/towel/or rag.

4. After my brush took a nice "toxic" bath I then proceed to rub and swirl it on a bar of Ivory soap (many painters I hear are now using Ivory, go figure...we think alike, lol.) Get it all sudsy as you swirl it on the bar of soap and have warm running water on top. You will see more paint come off the brush....amazing how much paint is in there, right? I also swirl it in the palm of my hands and use my fingers to gently spread the hairs to make sure the soap is everywhere. Once I'm satisfied all the paint is out of the brush I give it a rinse.

5. Maybe this is over-kill, but I then re-swirl my brush with brush with warm water and Master's Soap. This smells a bit like a lemon like, and its suppose to condition the brush..so I do it. Again, rinse clean.

6. Finally I shape the brush with my fingers. If its a flat, I make sure the edge gets a chisel look, a fine round...well, the sables remember their shape, lol. I gently squeeze the excess water as I'm shaping and then I lay them down flat over an edge of a table to dry. Once dry, I store my brushes flat in plastic drawers from Wal Mart.

Hope that helps. Congradts on the higher quality brushes. Take care of them, and they will help you make some wonderful paintings.

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Old 04-14-2013, 09:01 AM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

Originally Posted by ImpastoArtist
Question time...
What is the recommended regime to follow for cleaning brushes after a session at the canvas?

Unfortunately, there are many different, contradictory recommendations for cleaning brushes. I have read books where respected long-time artists say to only wash brushes in soap and water and others who say never wash brushes in soap and water! Some who say solvents are best, others who say solvents make brushes brittle!

Personally, I find the easiest method for me is to first wash the brush in solvent (OMS) and then use Master's Brush Cleaner (or regular hand soap, but it doesn't work as well). Swirl the brush in the Master's and then rinse in your palm until no more paint comes off the brush. Brushes may become tinted with color - this is normal - but if no paint comes off the brush when rinsing, they are probably clean.

Lately, I have been working solvent free, so I just use the Master's and water to clean. Takes a bit more effort than when using solvent. I just need to make sure that I don't let paint dry in the brush.

Don Ketchek, WC Guide - Pastels

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Old 04-14-2013, 10:19 AM
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ArtyRolina ArtyRolina is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

I am one of those weirdos who paints (mostly) solvent-free. I blogged a while ago about how I clean my brushes without solvent after I have finished painting for that day.

During the actual painting session itself, I just wipe my brushes as much as possible and keep different brushes for the lights and the darks.

I hope your new brushes last you a long time and that you produce some lovely works with them (you will show us, won't you?)!
Rolina x

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Old 04-14-2013, 10:37 AM
AllisonR AllisonR is online now
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

Oil newbie, so take with a grain of salt.
I have a small cup of linseed oil.
I have a jar of regular vegetable oil (sunflower).
I have another jar of terp.

If I am coming back tomorrow, I don't clean my brushes. I just maybe dip in the linseed and come back the next day and wipe excess linseed on paper towel, or maybe not, and continue painting.

If it will be 3-4 days or more, then I clean. I get as much paint off on a paper towel. Then I dip in the vegetable oil, wipe on paper towel a few times to get rid of the paint. Dip in vegetable oil again, wipe again and again. Eventually I feel like the major color is out, so I swish in terp, then wipe on towel. If there is still a ton of paint (seems to get stuck in the area where the hairs meet the brush handle), then I go back to sunflower oil for a bit. If most is out, I do the terp and paper towel again until the brush is clean. No matter what, at the very end (to make sure no paint dries in the brush) I dip in oil and gently wipe on the towel or my palm.
Being born places you at a greater risk of dying later in life.

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Old 04-14-2013, 12:52 PM
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NancyMP NancyMP is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

I've only been painting in oil for 50 years or so, and I use Don's method. Nate, if I had to go to that much trouble to clean brushes, I wouldn't do it as often!

I usually keep the big 24 oz tubs of Masters Brush Cleaner at hand - I use a lot of it. I can't find the big tubs here anymore, so I order enough of the tubs at Dick Blick to get their free shipping.

If I run out, I use a bar of face soap, though it doesn't do as good a job. The Pthalo colors and some others stain, but if you can no longer remove any color from the brush, the stain won't hurt it.
Nancy http://nancyparkfineart.com
All human beings are dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together. - Jack Kerouac

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Old 04-14-2013, 03:16 PM
ragman100 ragman100 is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

Some of these suggestions seem like overkill. I remove the bulk of paint with terps then warm water and Fels Naptha rubbing in my palm until suds are clean up to the ferrule. Then important, Make sure all the soap is washed out. Not a big deal. My former instructor uses Murphy oil soap.
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Old 04-14-2013, 03:50 PM
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WFMartin WFMartin is online now
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

What is the recommended regime to follow for cleaning brushes after a session at the canvas?

Well, this is what I recommend. I've been using it for years.

First, I rinse the paint out of the bristles by swishing it in solvent in a can with a hardware-cloth screen at the bottom. Once the solvent has cleaned most of the paint out of the brush, I then use soap and water [or detergent, and water, if you have hard water], and wash the solvent out of the brush. I use Fels Naptha laundry bar soap, because I have softened water.....BIG, BIG difference. With hard water, you would be greatly disappointed using real soap, so detergent would be my recommendation--somthing like Dawn, or Palmolive dishwashing liquid.

Rinse well, with water, shape the brush with your fingers, and allow it to dry, bristles upright.
wfmartin. My Blog "Creative Realism"...www.williamfmartin.blogspot.com

Last edited by WFMartin : 04-14-2013 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:02 PM
hkprk hkprk is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

Hi, There are lot of instructions and special brush washing liquid etc but I personally always found them unnecessarily complicated. What I found works best is simple. Just using any dish washing liquid soap. I think they work far better than those fancy brush wash soaps.

Here's how I wash them. Wash each of them one by one, Squeeze some dish wash liquid on palm of your hand and just rub the brush on your palm. IMPORTANT: try not to push the brush head on squashing the hairs straigh down perpemdicularly to the hand spreading out the brush hair. this will damage the shape of the brush-hair. Rather, push them sort of in on angle sideways so the brush hairs are being pushed sideways at an angle and turn them as you go, this way you can still rub them hard and wont damage the hairs. You may want wash and rinse couple times if you really want to clean out the paint residues from your brushes but no brushes really lasts too long in perfect condition
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:17 PM
Max Klinger Max Klinger is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

I am quite lazy and use Schmincke brush cleaner of which I always have a liter in stock and old clothes. It is very strong stuff which is even cleaning some dried paint (but also varnishes of the pencils itself if not used carefully).

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Old 04-14-2013, 05:13 PM
Forestgrass Forestgrass is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

This may not make sense to everyone but works for me. Since I need to be as non-toxic as possible, I have a silicoil jar but instead of putting OMS in it I put artist’s walnut oil into it. I wipe the brush on a cotton rag until I get most color off, then dip the tip into the oil and wipe off again repeating several times before I totally dip the brush into the coil jar and swish in the oil. That way the oil stays cleaner.
I then clean with Master’s brush soap/water. I try to get as much paint off as possible so very little paint goes down the drain. Sometimes, if I’m painting again real soon though, I skip the Master’s soap/water step temporarily. I simply “wash” them in the oil and wipe them really well on the cloth and leave them for a few hours or even the next day, and then paint with them again. I try to avoid too much soap and water simply because I’ve felt at times that water can be drying to some brushes.
However, sometimes I need to really clean with OMS – especially for more expensive brushes. I wipe off as much paint as possible onto a rag to keep the OMS jar cleaner so that I can keep decanting the OMS into a clean jar to reuse. After wiping with OMS, I put the rag outside so not so many fumes indoors.
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Old 04-14-2013, 05:14 PM
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Toril Toril is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

When I started out, I wiped the brushes clean, swished them in thinner (OMS), then used Murphy's Oil Soap. On Nancy's recommendation, I bought a big tub of Master's, and OH, WHAT A DIFFERENCE!

My brushes are easily cleaned, stay soft and retain their shape - most of them look like brand new. Of course I'm not putting a lot of mileage on them, but I do tend to use a few favorites. I clean them immediately after I'm done painting for the day.
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Old 04-14-2013, 06:38 PM
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llawrence llawrence is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

These days I just soak em in some poppy oil. As long as I get back to them within a week or a week and a half even, they stay wet. Wipe em off before beginning again. My cleanup time has become much easer. That's a good thing, since cleanup time isn't exactly what I was looking forward to each day.
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Old 04-14-2013, 09:12 PM
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ImpastoArtist ImpastoArtist is offline
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Re: How to clean brushes (oil paints)?... help!

Wow... some great advice here. I'm going to print it out then take some time to filter thru all that info. Thanks!

Visit my website: http://www.markduggan.co.nz/

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