You’ve invested a lot in your oil painting brushes, and one of the best ways to maintain them is to keep them clean, says artist Katie Liddiard. Follow Katie’s step by step process for keeping your brushes in tip-top shape to last many years, if not a lifetime, by cleaning them at the end of each day in the studio.
First, rinse your brush in artist-grade mineral spirits, such as Gamsol or Turpenoid. Get as much paint as you can out of the brush in this rinse, and dry it on a paper towel. Next, using a good soap made for brushes (such as Jack’s Linseed Oil Studio Soap), work the soap into the ferrules of the brush. Oil paint can get trapped underneath the metal ferrule; Katie uses her fingers to try to pull that paint out as she works the soap in. You’ll see the paint seep out from the ferrule. Rinse the brush in water and repeat this process with soap, working it into the bristles as well, until you’ve gotten as much paint as you can out of the brush. Rinse in the used water once more and then in a bowl of fresh water.
Next, Katie recommends getting as much water out of the brush as you can. Start with a paper towel and squeeze the bristles to draw out as much water as possible. If desired, you can then let the brush dry, or dip into a brush restorer product or hair conditioner to help restore some of the oils to the bristles. Dip and reshape your brush and lay it down on a flat surface to dry overnight. Clean all of your brushes with this process and they’ll be ready for you to paint with when you return to the studio!