the kind-of-solvent-free Brush Cleaning Process (oil painting, mixed media)

i use a ton of different brushes. not necessarily to use 50 brushes on 1 painting but so i am always ready to paint using different mediums (oil vs acrylic) and while my oil brushes are drying after a deep cleaning. i separate my oil and acrylic brushes so i know which ones are always ready and i can use them wet (acrylic). i am also a clean painter in that i don’t like to make a mess in my studio space, and i’m always cleaning my brushes after use. for that reason I also love working with palette knives since they are much faster to clean and interchange while I'm working. yes, i’m one of those people. to each its own, this is just how i like to flow. 

since i tend to over-clean all of my brushes, they quickly seem to dry out and lose shape. the bristles are super clean but start going wonky. i guess there is a balance to leave a little mess and clean only when needed. when i notice my good-and-clean brushes not working well, i back off of the straight solvent to clean (when oil painting). using the oil medium to clean my brushes seems to eliminate the need for an additional soap cleaning which further dries out the brush. here’s what i use: 

  • Safflower Oil (with small condiment cup for first dip. i added a 2nd empty cup to do the extra swirling and cleaning.) i usually don’t wipe off the oil paint first, just go straight into the safflower oil and swirl/mush around to clean. otherwise i would use a ton of paper towels/ messy rags - no good for me. 
  • heavy duty Paper Towels, folded over and used to wipe clean as much of the oil as possible from the safflower oil cleaning.
  • i prefer fast-dry painting methods, so this is why i use Gamsol (a solvent; odorless mineral spirit) to do a quick final clean of my brush. then wipe fully dry with clean rag. too much oil left in my will mix with paints and slow my dry time. 
  • if questions, stick to the manufacturer’s original instructions :) 

☕️💕 buy me a coffee