The BEST brushes for Oil Painting, and how to clean them!



hey guys Andrew here with another quick clip and in this short video we're going to talk all about brushes I'd like to thank everybody who hit me up through the youtube comment section or Facebook and email thanks guys for this week's request let's get started now guys as you can see I've got a heck of a lot of brushes here I don't use just one brand of brushes I use a whole variety of different makes different types of fibers and different brand these all come in different shapes and sizes as well and they're all going to do something a little bit different so why don't we break this quick clip up into the main part of the painting process and I'll talk to you about some of the brushes that I use for each individual part of my process now normally when I'm painting I'm building up the surface of the painting with layers starting with my most broad shapes first in big blocks of color and then working towards more refinement as the process continues now with this first initial layer there's virtually no detail at all and I'm trying to cover as much ground as quickly as possible so for this particular job I use these bristle brushes now these are the cheapest nastiest brushes you can buy in fact this one here it cost me about a dollar fifty it's called a chip brush but you can also buy some different varieties of the same sort of brush this is a varnish brush now all sorts of different brands and all sorts of different companies make this kind of brush but I find them ideal for the blocking and part of my process this is where I'm covering as much ground as quickly as possible mixing up broad strokes of color I can cover a whole canvas quite a large one to within an hour to two and then from there I can model more detail over the top of that layer now guys as I mentioned there are three parts to my process we have blocking in modeling and detail and when we break it up into steps like this it becomes a little bit easier to think about such a complicated thing as painting is now we've already talked about blocking brushes and I've talked to you about some of these one inch to two inch bristles to cover a lot of area quickly but for the next part of the process with modeling we're going to require just a little bit more refinement and just a touch more control so for that I'm using some Haga bristle brushes here I have some of my favorite shapes which are bristle bright daggers flat and filbert's and these brushes are going to have a lot of stiffness to them and cover a lot of ground quickly as well as push that paint around really well now while we're modeling the painting we might want to get some different effects and of course different types of fibers are going to give us a different kind of mark so as I'm working my way into that detail face I'm paying very close attention to the type of surface and texture I'm trying to capture now for modeling I also use some of these nice synthetic bristles these mimic a hog bristle but they hold their shape a little bit better and have got just a little bit more springiness to them and I can create some more controlled line work with these this filbert is one of my favorite brushes for getting some controlled lines but also for blending between strokes I'll continue to use bristle flat and bristle filbert's and these are some of my favorite brushes for doing some of the finer work in the later part of the modeling stage you'll see me use these a lot on portraits and working out fine features around the eyes nose and mouth it's a great tool for creating some more controlled mark-making now when you're painting make sure if you're using synthetics that you're paying attention to the type of fiber that is because some of the chemicals and solvents that are in oil paints and mediums can actually deteriorate the brush if it's not designed for that particular job I have these tack long or nylon brushes that I use quite a bit for oil painting and they handle the solvents and chemicals really really well this one's quite an old brush it's about two and a half years old and it's still going strong now this is one of my favorite synthetic brushes because it's going to give me a lot of control with line making getting me prepared for that detailed process now I've had a lot of people asking me about the dagger brushes that I've used and you would have noticed from the great art adventure as well as many of my quick clips that I use this brush a lot in fact I feature them quite heavily in my latest portrait painting tutorial now we have a few different types of fibers that are available to us with this particular brush shape and here I've got two I've got a Bristol dagger as well as an ivory dagger this particular dagger brush is made by Rosemary & Co and it's absolutely beautiful in fact I can't speak highly enough about this particular brush this brush here is over well over two years old and here I have a bristle dagger that's not even a year old and you can see just how well their shapes hold together I really enjoy using this brush in particular because it makes such a fine line a point or a broad stroke so if you want to check these out in particular check out rosemary & Co and this again is not an endorsement or a sponsored video at all it's just one of my favorite brushes so I want you guys to know where you can get that one so now that we've finished with our modeling part of the process and we're getting ready for the detail part we need to change the types of brushes that we're using yet again and here I'm trying to go for even more control and I'm paying really close attention to communicating texture depending on what it is and I'm painting so for this part of the process I'm also using bristles but I'm using a few different types of animal hair as well and even some more synthetics so here I've got a bristle filbert which is a number one this is great for communicating fine facial features wrinkles around eyes even tree texture and bark and that sort of thing also I use a double-0 bristle filbert this is a great brush for even painting hair would you believe I can accumulate a fine bead of paint at the ends of those bristles and just drag it across the surface to create a really fine line now you may have noticed from some of the episodes of the great art adventure or some of my other quick Clips maybe even the DVD tutorial if you've got that one that I use some really weird shapes for detail this is where again I'm paying very close attention to the individual shapes and textures and the types of marks that I'm making to really communicate the three-dimensional form of the subject so in order to get these different shapes I'm actually being very mean to my brushes indeed and I'm trimming them so you can see here here's an example I've got the nice synthetic round and one that is exactly the same type of brush although I've trimmed it slightly only expose a few years now where would I possibly need to use this well you would have noticed from episode six of the great art adventure that I actually use this for painting grants even creating the fine sparkles on the surface of water now that's not the only type of brush I trim I also enjoy being mean to these bristle fan brushes now these ones here are great for painting not only hair but grass as well even giving me some really nice leaf textures in trees now I like thinking a little bit laterally when it comes to the types of brushes that I'm using and the types of marks that I'm making and I'm trying to be sensitive to the subject and figuring out what does the subject need this has led me down the path of making some new shapes for my brushes so now that I've shown you these let's have a chat about how exactly to trim this brush which is my fan number four so you see here I've got a brand new fan brush and I'm going to trim this brush to make it a little bit more handy for painting things like grass and leaves maybe even human hair or maybe some facial hair so in order to do that I'm going to select a few places to trim this exposing a few of the hairs and creating a rough edge around the perimeter of this brush where it touches the surface of the canvas but my first step is going to be to narrow the overall range of the fan down and then thin it out through the middle as I do that I then select out a few of these little fibers with a very small pair of scissors here I'm using a pocketknife pair of scissors to do this job because precision here is key alright guys let's have a quick chat on how to clean brushes now there are lots of methods to do this this is just the way that I do it I'm not saying it's the right way but it works for me so where we're going to start is obviously with a dirty brush I'm going to take out a couple of these paper towels and just make sure that I take that dirty brush and wipe off all of the excess paint first it's really important we do this because that will preserve our turps for as long as we need now should also mention that we should be cleaning our brushes outside so don't tell anyone I'm doing this inside the reason we do that is because some of the solvents that we use to clean brushes can contaminate our studio spaces and it can end up building up a toxicity within our systems and cause a bit of an allergic reaction over time now I've become very sensitive to things like turpentine gums urban sign just because I've been breathing in so much of it so now I'm going strictly low toxic or non-toxic within my studio space so that said don't tell anybody I'm breaking my own rules what we're going to do is take out a little bit of this pure gum turpentine and I'm going to fill up two jars to about that depth right there for I like these shorter jars because they don't tip over as easily nice and stable once I have that pure gum turps in there I then get some more clean paper towel ready and start off with the first one this is going to be my dirty turps and I'm going to mix that in there swish that around as best I can and I'm not pushing on the brush but rather pulling on the brush so as I pull on it and press it against the bottom of the jar feeling for the Flex of the brush as the bristles splay outwards the paint literally falls out of that brush and then I wipe it against the edge of the jar and rub it against that paper towel just squeezing on the brush but again not pulling it I'm trying to be as careful as I can with that brush and you can see there that it's got a little bit of paint still coming off the brush now this is where the next jars turps comes in and I got a clean wash now and I simply repeat that process again so why three jars well we've used our dirty Terps we've then moved on to a rinse jar and here we've got an empty jar to be able to pour off some clean Terps once all of those paint particles have settled out of that solution as I skim that off the surface what this means is I continually recycle the same amount of turps and I don't have to use as much solvent it's a really clean and cost-effective way of cleaning our brushes so here's an older jar of turpentine and you can see in here that all of the paint has settled to the bottom and I can simply just pour off the top of that jar so what I'm going to do is I'm going to just pour off the surface of this into that jar and just as soon as the excess paint starts to come into this new clean jar I just stop pouring at that point I don't want to pour the whole amount in there just the bit that's on top and now I've got some perfectly good tips to continue to clean my brushes in so what I'll do is after I'm done with this whole process I'll set aside my cleanest jar of turps I'll pour this dirty stuff back into the original jar let it all settle out and repeat the process alright guys what if we're going to be away from the easel for a couple of weeks and we're not going to have a chance to go back to painting we don't want our brushes to go hard as they can do if we don't do a good job cleaning them with the turpentine they could still go a little bit stick how do we condition and preserve our brushes for future painting sessions let me show you how to do that you're going to be looking for an oil or wax brush cleaner or conditioner now this stuff has got all sorts of oils and waxes in it that will soften our bristles it works great even on synthetic brushes now it doesn't really matter the brand here I'm using an Australian brand you're probably watching this in a different country so have a look at the art stores and ask them for brush conditioners but I will show you a better home remedy for how to do this as well if you can't find this stuff okay so here what I'm going to do is I'm just going to pick up a little bit of this wax and oil on the end of my brush like this and in the lid simply brush this and work those bristles and push it as much of that down into the ferrule and out towards the end of the brush as possible and you can see I'm not pushing on the brush but rather flexing those bristles this is actually the same action that we'll be doing in the bottom of our terpstra as well by the way and this will allow that oil to be worked down into all of those gaps between the hairs now I'm going to scrape that against the edge of the lid and I'm going to leave this brush overnight now the next day I'm going to come back in and I'm going to wash this with warm soapy water let drei and I'm ready for another painting session maybe in a couple of weeks time so this is a really great way to preserve your brushes but also to restore them it's a fantastic way to bring old paintbrushes to life now what if you can't find some of this fancy brush cleaner that we've got here well what you can do is just take normal dish soap this is just for washing dishes at home I'm going to put a little bit of that into a jar and simply work this into the bristles again in the same fashion scrape that against the side leave that overnight and wash that out with warm soapy water let the brush is dry before continuing with oil painting so there's another little trick that you can use at home for restoring and cleaning your brushes once you've gone through your pur gum turps rinse well guys there we have it we've talked a bit about brushes what have we covered here in this quick clip well I've talked to you about the process and how different shapes of brushes and different sizes relate to the different aspects of my particular process we started off with blocking in then modeling and then detail I even showed you how to create some really nifty shapes with your detail brushes and also we talked about how to clean a brush now if you liked this video make sure you hit that like button if you want to come back for more make sure you're subscribed and as always you can find me on Instagram or Facebook but also make sure that you're subscribed here WWE NGO Tishler comm for bonus content and giveaways we'll see you again next time you

47 thoughts on “The BEST brushes for Oil Painting, and how to clean them!

  1. Brilliant technique for cleaning brushes! I use Palmolive dish soap because it contains PALM and OLIVE oils to clean an condition brushes. (Escoda's brush soap bar contains olive oil and works beautifully as well!)
    I was taught the "rub the brush in the palm of your hand" method of brush cleaning. I've come to realize I'm sending off toxins down the drain and into the water system. Not good! How do you dispose of your used dish soap in the jar?

  2. Wow! Everything I need to have on brushes. I was becoming frustrated with some of my efforts. Now I can take my time,and,absorb some of your information. I cannot paint at the moment having had surgery on both hands a couple of weeks ago,but,your videos gives me something to occupy my mind while the healing process takes place. Your presentation is excellent.

  3. I have been a professional artist for almost 40 years. This is new to me. I was taught that after using in oils, clean the brush and oil it well with a good brush oil then lay it flat in a tray with the handle slightly elevated. It has worked well for me, I have quite a few good quality brushes that are 35 years old and still working well. Your a wonderful artist and your videos are well done and very educational.

  4. I soooo cringed as you cut up the Rosemary & Co. Brush. I have the exact brushes and they are a work of art in their own right. I can not say enough wonderful things about their co..and their brush quality but an Artist gotta do what they gotta do, I suppose, lol.?

  5. I use Dawn dish soap to clean my brushes and only Dawn brand. It's designed to clean oil and grease specifically and does the best job. Do not waste time on off brands of soap. You can use it to clean anything that you get oil based products on.

  6. I have received borrowed brushes back totally caked in hard, old oil paints. I thought I would have to throw them away, but tried laundry detergent. I soaked them from 1-5 days and washed…sometimes several times. It brought them back!

  7. these vids are amazing.. ur artwork are beautiful.. I'm 16 and I'm going towards art…u sure have inspired me

  8. Andrew we in Russia , materials are very expensive how to be? Because i watch you in Russia , ilive in Bryansk

  9. Hi Andrew, just found and subscribed to your channel. Great videos, very informative! Thank you for this video, very helpful! Yota

  10. My favorites are the dagger and filbert but that is my favorite stage of the process as well. Love your videos you are excellent artist. I get excited when buying brushes, like most ladies do when they see shoes… only I am not that way with shoes, I go looking for brushes I don't really need. Lol

  11. Hi there a brilliant tutorial on brushes and the cleaning of them! I stopped painting with oils and went on to acrylic! Simply because I was using soo much cleaner I used Bob Ross as I hate the smell of turps. But after watching this I'm going to be starting using my oil paints. Thank you .oh and I've subscribed to your channel. Regards from England.???????

  12. Thank you for producing such an informative video. I have now subscribed to your website and YouTube site and look forward to receiving more videos. I've been on to the rosemary website to order a selection of the brushes you use but have struggled. You referred to the brushes with the size number, for example the number 2 or number 4, but they refer to them in inches for the width and millimetres for the length. Any chance that you could provide a list of your brushes using actual sizes as well as brush numbers.  Much appreciated.

  13. I see you panting and put some thing like gell making the pant look very clear could you tell me what is this gell or oil

  14. Watching your video out of curiousity and found out that I use the same rosemary&co brushes, same shapes, bought years ago in new york, more or less 12dollars each, not really cheap but useful

  15. Your cleaning brushes section is way too labor intensive! You don't need to do all that step-by-step jar stuff with turpentine, which really smells bad, especially the cheap stuff. I have a much easier, faster method that gets bristle brushes beautifully clean with only a few squirts of low-odour mineral spirits (and a very common secret ingredient, haha!). I can do this continually as I paint. Then afterwards into a jar, which I can leave for next day's session, or weeks or months if I want. I never use soap or expensive cleaners either, and I have always have perfectly clean brushes. The only brushes that need careful cleaning with soap and water are sables or very fine specialty brushes. Its a big myth that you have to wash and clean your bristle brushes every day. I leave them for weeks or months in a jar and they remain perfectly useable.

  16. totaly wrong treadment!!!! since about 1000 years fine art artists are
    doing this wrong. a revolutionary solution for parking your expensive art tools has been invented by me this
    year. if you are interested then send me an inquiry.

  17. I notice you use very large canvases, I use much smaller canvases. Any tips on how to scale down, when following you're videos?

  18. Hey Andrew from canada love your ideas. Inspired me to return to painting after leaving the art world for a decade. Love your artwork. Nice to see talented artistry at work. Wondering in the brushes youtube noticed your rotating chair! Did you purchase it or make it ? I need one? Its tough to find the right chair and yours looks about right.

  19. The slap brush technique a la Bob Ross still doesn't get my brush dry.
    I found a bottle at an art shop with a screen built in.
    I use a rag instead of slapping.
    But I still need a supply of Dry brushes, so I wash my brush with dish soap and let dry.
    You cannot blend with a oily brush. What do you think?

  20. Andrew, you talk in your videos like a friend. Its great and relatable that way. As for process'i use a variation of the grisaille and detail underdrawings before a final painting. Even though this increases my time to work, I find if my underdrawing is tight and finished, it eliminates my guess work even if I use a veil or other techniques. Thank you for your channel and please dont stop. You make great videos, and I support a fellow artist from across the pond.

  21. On the subject of the toxicity of solvents like turpentine/Turpenoid/Gamsol:
    I use about one cup of solvent per year !
    I add some to my medium and I keep that in a small plastic squeeze bottle.
    But I don't use solvent in the conventional way to clean paint away.
    We are taught to remove all paint from our brushes.
    Otherwise, the paint will dry and make the bristles stiff or cause the brush to lose its shape.
    This is true ONLY if we allow the paint on the brush to dry !!
    I keep my brushes from drying out between sessions.
    That way, I never have to use solvent !
    Here is what I do:

    Treating oil paint brushes after use without solvent:

    Steps:

    1. After painting, wipe as much paint as you can from your brush onto a cloth or paper towel.(kitchen roll in the U.K.)
    2.. Dip brush into a mixture of clove oil and artist grade safflower oil – 1/2 ounce bottle of clove oil into 8 oz. bottle of safflower oil.
    Do Not Swirl the brush around ..just dip it in and lift it out.
    3. Set brush aside until your next painting session. It will stay pliable for a few weeks.
    If you go longer without using your brushes, re-dip into the clove/safflower mix.
    4. When ready to use the brush, wipe off the oil residue.
    Your brush will be moist and flexible.
    You can put some medium onto the brush and wipe it off to remove any of the earlier color that might remain.

    Note: use only artist grade safflower oil.
    It is usually available in art supply stores.
    The cooking oil you buy in the market is not suitable.
    Clove oil can be found online.
    Walmart / Walgreens etc. ( USA ) carry clove oil.

    Once you have your few supplies and get accustomed to treating your brushes this way, you will be SO GLAD that you have dramatically reduced your use of toxic solvents!
    I have been treating my brushes like this for years and it keeps their bristles in good condition.

    Also… sometimes things, other than brushes, with paint on them need to be cleaned.
    It is OIL paint. You can remove the oil easily with the one product that has been formulated to remove grease.
    Liquid dish soap !
    But only DAWN will do a good job.
    It is the best dish soap by far.
    Clean your hands. Wipe down surfaces.
    For paint on cloth: apply full strength and gently brush while rinsing in cool water can often remove paint.
    I have even washed wet paint off a canvas that wasn't working with Dawn, warm water and a hard scrub brush.
    You never have to clean with harsh toxic solvent again.

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