I miss Joe Cocker. I loved his creative spirit, his gravelly voice, his spasmodic performances. Joe was unique, a definite “one-of-a-kind” musician. I can’t think of any song he did that wasn’t quickly added to my all-time favorites list.
One of his most popular songs, of course, is “With a Little Help From My Friends“. That’s something we can all use from time to time.
When I first started this art blog, I worried what “real artists” would think of my childish scribbles and awful attempts at drawing. What I soon learned was that the online art community has room for each of us — no matter what our skill level might be. I learned, too, that the community is strong and supportive. I’m grateful for all the inspiration and encouragement I’ve received.
So many times, I’ve had questions about different media or different techniques. All I’ve had to do is ask and a wealth of information, suggestions, and recommendations have come my way.
Still, I’m struggling with one particular aspect of oil painting, so I’m turning to the community for advice. Brush cleaning has become my bugaboo. I’ve done a bit of browsing and reading on the web, and I know how very important it is to properly care for our paint brushes. I know, too, that I’m not doing a good job of it, so I’ll be grateful for any words of wisdom.
First, I suppose “brush-cleaning” can actually refer to two different processes.
- I often need to clean a particular brush while I’m working on a painting
- I definitely want to clean all of my brushes at the end of my painting session
I’ve read one suggestion from Web Art Academy saying to thoroughly clean all oil painting brushes once a week with soap and water. I think I can handle that, but that alone doesn’t answer my questions or help me with my day-to-day dilemma.
Maybe I just need to buy more brushes, but for me, the biggest problem in oil painting is cleaning my brushes in-between colors. If I use one brush, for instance, to paint in a grassy knoll and then want to use the same brush to put in different highlights with another color, I need to get the dark paint off and the lighter paint loaded onto the brush. It sounds simple enough, but I haven’t yet found the way to successfully clean my brush and re-use it with a different color.
Maybe I’m using the wrong type of thinner/cleaner. Actually, I’ve tried several. So far, Turpenoid seems to be the best choice. Daler-Rowney’s low-odour thinner has also done better than the original “Safe Thinner” I purchased.
I’ve also seen “brush-cleaning systems” with buckets, screens, and handy little places to stand up your brushes. The one below is shown at the Web Art Academy website.
Here’s what the site has to say:
This is a tin box with a false bottom of perforated tin or of wire netting about half-way down, which allows the liquid to stand a half-inch or so above it; so that when you put your brush in and rub it around, the paint is rinsed from it, and settles through the perforations to the bottom, leaving the liquid clear again above it. If you use this carefully, cleaning one brush at a time, not rubbing it too hard, and pulling the hairs straight by wiping them on a clean rag, you may keep your brushes in good condition quite easily. But they will need a careful soap-and-water washing every little while, besides.
The liquid best for use in this cleaner is the common kerosene or coal oil. Never use turpentine to rinse your brushes. It will make them brittle and harsh; but the kerosene will remove all the paint, and will not affect the brush.
So, should I buy one of these “cleaning systems”? Would this be a good solution to my “while I’m painting” problem? Do any of you use a “system” similar to this?
And, of course, I want to know what type of thinner/cleaner/solvent you use. I can’t imagine using kerosene or coal oil as suggested above, but maybe that is what works best?
I did a little price-comparing yesterday while out buying a few new oils. (Right now, I’m trying out several different brands. I’m using the M. Graham oil paints I previously bought by mistake. You might remember my tale of woe: Oil and Water Do Not Mix. I also have an inexpensive set of Daler-Rowney oil paints, a few tubes of “Winton Oil” from Winsor-Newton, and another tube that’s marked “Winsor-Newton Oil”. I’m guessing the difference is in the grade. More of that to come in another post. For now, back to brushes and cleaners.
The prices on all the cleaners I looked at seemed high. Do I really need one of these “artist-quality” cleaners, or can I do just as well buying cheap paint thinner/cleaner at Wal-Mart?
Of course, maybe the problem is in my brush-cleaning technique. What I’ve been trying in-between colors is swishing my brush around in the cleaner I have, then wiping it off on a rag. That doesn’t seem to be doing much.
I know I’m asking a lot, but could someone give me a quick step-by-step “how to” on what I really need and how to successfully clean my brushes while I’m working on a painting?
And, at the end of my painting session, should I go ahead and do a soap-and-water wash? Or should I clean my brushes again with thinner/cleaner/solvent and save the soap-and-water for another time?
My brushes and I will be forever grateful for any advice you have to share. Thank you!