Sunday, April 22, 2007

Brush Cleaning with Safflower Oil


I am not a big believer in cleaning brushes. It has always seemed to me to be a colossal waste of time. My solution over the years has been to wipe off excess paint with a rag or paper towel and simply leave the brushes soaking in solvent, usually an inch or so of odorless mineral spirits in a tin can. Recently I've switched from using mineral spirits to using safflower oil-the very kind found in the grocery store. Much of the oil paint I use includes a little bit of it anyway so I know it isn't going to have an adverse effect. I've found that it is more pleasant to use, there are fewer fumes in the studio, the brushes stay softer, and I don't worry about getting any on my skin.

6 comments:

r garriott said...

A marvelous idea and undoubtedly better than the 'Goop' (brand name) hand cleaner that I soak my brushes in.

Katherine Kean said...

It works wonders at keeping the brushes soft. Thanks for coming by!

marianne said...

Oh my gosh. I never heard of this! I love this idea and it seems so much easier and cleaner than most other options. Will it soften hard brushes too?

Katherine Kean said...

Hi Marianne,
I don't think it will make a brush already hardened with dried paint any softer, but it will keep brushes from drying out in the first place.

jeronimus said...

Hi Katherine.
I hate cleaning brushes too.

A couple of acrylic and watercolor painter friends of mine have plastic tub things with grooves that suspend their brushes in water without the tips of the brushes touching the bottom of the container and getting bent.
I guess one could use it for oil painting. (using safflower oil instead of water)

Do you find your brushes are OK sitting on the bottom of the tin, or do you suspend them off the bottom somehow? Thick brushes would probably be OK anyway.

Katherine Kean said...

It does depend on the brush. Small flats and brights can rest okay, rounds and filberts not as well. I used to just rest them sideways in a saucer of oil. Now I have a metal contraption that has a coil at the top to hold the brush by the handle. I sit this in a ceramic crock with a few inches of household safflower oil. The plastic tubs you mention would probably be fine, after all the Safflower oil comes in a plastic bottle and I keep most of the mediums I use in plastic squeeze bottles.

Life is so much better without brush cleaning!