Clean oil brushes are some of the most valuable assets an artist can have, especially considering this is his or her primary tool for creativity. The process for cleaning them is not as complicated as it may seem, though there are extra steps in comparison to cleaning up after watercolor or acrylic paint usage. Artists will need turpentine, a small container (plastic or glass), mild detergent, and newspaper.
Step 1: Use the newspaper to finger squeeze out all the excess paint from the oil brushes. The paint should be mostly used up on in the brush as it is, so there should not be much left. Use the newspaper for this step by wrapping the paper around the brush head. Do not squeeze or pull too hard so the brush head does not become damaged.
Step 2: Pour some turpentine into a small container and dip the oil brushes into the container. Swish the brushes around until the paint releases into the liquid. Once the paint releases, return to them to the newspaper and wipe them off. There should be more paint wiping off into the newspaper during this process. It will not completely wash off into the turpentine.
Step 3: Place a small amount of mild detergent into the palm of your hand and then swirl the oil brushes through the soap. You will see the soap begin to discolor as the rest of the paint is released and washed away. Rinse the brush head in clear water, and wash the soap from your hand. Repeat this process until the soap no longer discolors in the palm of your hand.
Step 4: Pull the tip of the oil brushes through the newspaper once more after it comes clean in the palm of your hand. This will ensure that no more dirty water or residue is left in the deep recesses of the brush’s head. If there is a lot of paint left deep down by the metal portion of the brush head, repeat the process by returning to the turpentine and begin again to ensure all the paint is properly released from the bristles.
Step 5: Store oil brushes so they are standing upright inside a container or lying flat inside a pouch or brush holder. This will prevent the bristles on the brush from becoming damaged. If you are storing your oil brushes inside a pouch or brush holder, make sure they are completely dry before doing so. Otherwise, they could develop mildew deep inside the bristles and the metal could rust. This damage will transfer into the oil paint if it is not noticed, and that will then transfer on to the canvas.
Step 6: Make sure you have turpentine and mild detergent (this can be hand soap or dish soap) on hand at all times so your oil brushes can be cleaned immediately after use. Keep containers of water and newspaper ready, as well, so clean up can easily occur without you having to hunt for the necessary materials to do so.
For more information on the cleaning process for oil brushes visit PlazaArtMaterials online.