Although oil painting has been steadily growing in popularity as a hobby for decades, it has seen a spike in its popularity over the last year or so as more and more people have taken to oil painting as a way to express themselves and pass the time. With there being a sudden, huge spike in the popularity of oil paintings, this has resulted in a massive increase in the beginner questions that we see people asking.
One of the more common questions is based around how to keep oil paint brushes from drying out when not in use so we decided to dedicate this article to the topic. As this is an easy question to answer for a problem that many beginners make that result in damaged and unusable brushes, we wanted to get this article out as soon as possible.
Our hope is that we will be able to help as many of our readers as possible avoid having issues with their oil paint brushes and ensure that they last for as long as possible. We are fully aware that it is more expensive to get into oil painting than acrylic painting so being able to ensure you equipment lasts can be a great way to keep your costs down as a beginner.
How To Keep Oil Paint Brushes From Drying Out!
The two main ways that you are able to prevent your oil paint brushes from drying out is to tightly wrap them in a plastic bag or to dip the bristles in a suitable oil such as linseed oil. Wrapping the brushes is more of a short term solution for a day or two at most where as dipping the bristles in oil can last for up to a month with minimal issues.
Please keep in mind that this is if you are using a decent oil paint brush set for your oil painting sessions. If you are using a cheap brush set then they tend to have very low quality bristles that will have issues no matter what you try. On top of this, we always recommend that you use a suitable linseed oil rather than a random one bought from the store.
If you do opt to use the oil method then you simply dip the bristles in the oil and then leave them, there is no need to leave the bristles in the oil for an extended period of time. Once dipped, most people will still wrap their brushes in plastic or use some other method to restrict the amount of air that the bristles have access to as it will prevent the oxidisation of the linseed oil and keep the brushes from drying out.
How To Storing Your Oil Paint Brushes Overnight!
We would recommend that you always wrap your oil paint brushes rightly in plastic for overnight storage if possible. A regular plastic bag will usually be able to do to trick but there are specialist plastic brush caps on the market that you can use if you prefer too.
As oil dries via oxidisation rather than evaporation, you have to try and restrict the amount of oil that the brush heads have access to when not in use. To quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to prevent your oil paint brushes from drying out for short periods of time is to wrap the heads in plastic to restrict the the air.
This is a great short term solution that is commonly used by oil painters all over the world and although most people only recommend that you use it for a single night and then use your brushes the next day, you can often use it for two nights in a row. If you are planning to leave the brushes and not paint with them for anything longer than two nights then we would recommend that you go with the method below to prevent the brush heads from drying out.
How Do You Preserve Oil Paint Brushes When Not In Use?
The best way to preserve your oil paint brushes for long periods of time is to dip them in a small amount of oil and then wrap them tightly in plastic. The oil will prevent the brush heads from drying out due to the plastic restricting the air available to oxidise the oil and dry it off.
This method can last for as long as a month without you having to re-dip your nibs but we usually recommend that you try to remember to re-dip them at least every two weeks, especially with high quality expensive brush heads. This should easily be able to prevent the brush from drying out and keep it in perfect working order for your next oil painting session.
Although many people don’t go through this procedure and leave their brush as is after their oil painting session for months at a time, the brush heads do start to determinate and you can feel it in the flex of the bristles. If you take your oil painting seriously then the process only takes a minute or two and will keep your brush heads as flexible as possible when not in use to ensure you always get the best possible performance out of them.
How Often Should You Replace Your Oil Paint Brushes?
A set of high quality oil paint brushes can last you decades if taken care of correctly but these sets can costly hundreds of dollars. The majority of people use a brush set around the $20 mark that can still last for around a year with proper care and regular use without issue.
As the synthetic fibres used for oil paint brush heads get better and better, the brush sets last longer while also being cheaper. This allows anyone, even though on a very tight budget to get themselves a decent oil paint brush set that will last them for a year or more with heavy use without having to break the bank.
If you do dip your brush heads when not in use then we would suspect that the majority of the reputable brush sets for oil painting will keep their flex for well over a year too. This helps to keep your costs as low as possible and ensure that you can get plenty of use out of your gear even if you paint multiple times each week.
That brings our article going over how to keep oil paint brushes from drying out to an end. Thankfully, unlike some of the processes in oil painting, prevent your brushes from drying out is easy, quick, and cheap so there really is no excuse not to do it. If you do just leave your brush heads to sit as they are after a painting session then it really is your own fault if they dry out and break on you within a few months of purchasing them but this is easily avoidable with proper care.