Artist Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been oil painting for about 2 years. I primarily use 2 sets of brushes -- one from Rosemary (expensive) and one from Fine Touch (cheap). My Rosemary brushes are synthetic; my Fine Touch brushes are nylon. Both are supposedly good for oil painting, but both sets are fraying / splaying. The wider brushes fray in the middle. The thinner brushes fray all around. What is causing this? And, is it possible to restore them?

For the "why", I'm very diligent about not damaging the bristles. If it matters, I use refined linseed oil (by Gamblin) for my medium, liquin original (by Winsor and Newton) for some of my underpainting, and turpenoid natural for cleaning my brushes. I sometimes get paint near the ferrule, but I always thoroughly clean my brushes (first wipe with a paper towel, then use a "dirty wash" in turp., and finally a "clean wash" in turp). Could one of these materials be causing the fraying?

For the "restoration", I have tried using brush shaper (by Speedball), dish soap, running the bristles under hot water, and "clamping" my bristles when drying. Nothing works.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
87 Posts
alot would depend on your style of painting. If you tend to jab the brush hard into the canvas every so often then over time this will cause the bristles to splay outwards. you can slow this by as you say clamping with something or using a small elastic or tape to hold the bristles together for storage after cleaning. Ive never seen brushes fray and Ive used turps and linseed oil so can help there
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
138 Posts
I'm a little more aggressive to my brushes than to just "rinse them well" in the solvent.
I use metal brushes with brass and stainless wires and a brush comb to get the gunk out of the base of the bristles. Once paint is hardened "inside the ferrule", not much you can do about that other than stepping up the solvent to acetone or lacquer thinner and develop you own style of cleaning "to get it done".
and as mentioned above - we need to know more about your style of painting and photos of your brushes. Do you ever put brushes in a jar or can and let them sit on the bottom ???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm very gentle in my painting. I do often use too small of a brush (simply because I like more control), but I never jab my brush on the canvas. (I paint almost exclusively on cheap canvases that I get from Hobby Lobby.) I never let my brushes sit in a jar / can of turpenoid. I have tried both odorless turpenoid and natural turpenoid (both by Weber), and the fraying happens with both types. After drying off my brushes (with a paper towel, after washing them in turpenoid), I used to store them in a can bristle-side-up, but I switched to resting them on a surface horizontally, to prevent anything from falling back down into the ferrule. That hasn't seemed to improve anything. To minimize paint getting up into the ferrule, I don't mix my paint with brushes. I mix my paints with palette knives. If it really is due to paint getting up under the ferrule, I would be very surprised. I expect Rosemary ferrules to be tighter than Fine Touch ferrules, but the issue happens to both.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
138 Posts
I have some expensive brushes and some "hobby" brushes - I can't say that I've ever seen this phenomenon before. The only thing I can suggest is to change cleaners and see if that helps. 100% pure mineral spirits would be my choice.
Eyelash Feather Cosmetics Eye liner Liver

When mine start to fray and get frazzled, it is usually coming from the ferrule and after a LOT of use and paint clogged into the ferrule.
I am a retired commercial sign painter - I store my "good" brushes flat (in a tackle box) with the bristles soaked in ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid). Some people use a commercial "Brush Oil". (matter of personal preference). We never store a brush "dry".
But, all of my colleagues use mineral spirits as the cleaner - not turpenoid derivities. And, we use oil based enamel paints.
This is my Sign Box - some of these brushes are over 30 years old and still have their shape as when new. The box used to be full of brushes when I retired. I have given away most of them to up and coming young painters.
Eyebrow Paint Cosmetics Shelving Office supplies


This is what I have now on my "hobby desk" in my den - I have about 4 cans of brushes stored like this.
Liquid Writing implement Fluid Lipstick Cosmetics
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for the information. I'm going to stop using turpenoid altogether (at least to rule it out as a culprit) and get an entirely new setup. I'm going to try both linseed oil (which I already use for my medium) and "The Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver as my cleaners (and leave some vegetable oil on the bristles to not store the brushes "dry"). I'm hesitant about using mineral spirits. I have some Gamsol (by Gamblin), but I have read contradictory things about Gamsol in particular (and mineral spirits in general), i.e., that Gamsol is especially bad for ivory synthetics (which is what almost all of my Rosemary's are). I'm also going to have to retire my Fine Touch set (not a huge loss, since they're really cheap). Maybe I can recover my Rosemary set. After I posted those pictures, I tried washing my Fine Touch set in hot water and dish soap. It frayed the bristles even more, to the point where they're completely unusable now.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
138 Posts
in your research, look up storing brushes with vegetable oil - - - there have been reports that cooking oil can go rancid over time.
and yes, some brushes do not tolerate soap and water well. (in your case, at all ).
in my world: brushes used in oil paints never get near water or soap. Mineral Spirits (100% pure) only.
we use brushes especially designed for acrylic and latex paints - they get a soap n water bath.
keep us in the loop as to how things turn out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I contacted Rosemary & Co about their recommendations for brush care, and below is what they shared with me (which may be specific to synthetics, ivory in particular):
-clean the brushes in linseed oil or any vegetable oil
-can also clean the brushes with Murphy's Oil Soap and / or Dawn
-never use solvents, turpenoid, or any mineral spirit (e.g., Gamsol), since these products strip away the synthetic coating (So, perhaps these are okay for natural bristles.)
-if using hot water to clean the brushes, don't soak for more than 1 minute
-for storing, fold cardboard / card stock over the brush tips and hold in place with a paperclip or clothes pin
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
138 Posts
that's good info right there - thanks for the followup !!! Let us know if this method fixes your issues.
I guess this gives credence to sign painters never using a petroleum product to clean the brushes "designated" for acrylic and latex paints only. And - vice-versa; brushes "designated" for oil based paints should never be cleaned with soap and water. (that is our rule in the sign world).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Paint brushes will fray due to incorrect usage, cleaning, and storage. Care for brushes by cleaning in lukewarm water or brush cleaning fluid, storing them upright, and never allowing the paint to dry on the bristles. You should avoid overloading paint onto the brush as the paint gets into the ferrule.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top