You’re going to go through a lot of brushes when oil painting. Hogshair brushes are durable, mind you, but they are being dipped in oils and solvents all of the time. So, how long do oil paint brushes last? Oil paint brushes, if properly cleaned and used lightly may last anywhere from 2 years to 2 decades, but with heavy use it will more likely be 1 to 2 years unless you’re very careful in their maintenance. Those solvents take their toll and you want perfect points for your work, so it’s a good idea to invest in spares.
Our subject for today’s article will be, of course, your oil paint brushes… we’ll talk about how long you can leave paint on them, whether or not they expire, and how bad oil paints really are for brushes overall. Let’s talk about the longevity of our tools of the trade!
How long can you leave oil paint on brushes?
Leaving oil paint just sitting on an unused brush for about an hour is okay but it’s always better to clean your brushes as soon as possible. NEVER leave them uncleaned overnight. Those solvents and other little chemical components are hard on a brush and you could actually do it some damage in just a single night.
You can actually coat the tips in oil and store it point-up (never down or you’ll get a bend) overnight so that you can quickly get to painting again in the morning, but rather than do that I would recommend always cleaning the brush and then dipping the tip on some moisturizing soap. You can get back to painting whenever you like if you do that and it’s much better for the brush overall.
The materials of the brushes do make a huge difference. Hogshair is great to paint with, but it’s not as strong as synthetic brushes when it comes to oils. You can and should still paint with them, just keep in mind that you want to be more careful with those. They can’t take as much of a beating as synthetic bristles.
So, clean, moisturize, and store… you’ll get a lot more life out of your brushes that way!
Do paint brushes expire?
Not really. An unused paint brush is going to last a long, long time, and your own personal brushes can too, as long as you take care of them. I’ve got some meticulous friends who still have 30 year old paintbrushes that they use from time to time, and it’s really that caring that is the key.
The big problem is when people get sloppy and leave solvents or paint on their brushes overnight or longer. Those pigments contain heavy metals and solvents are, well, solvents… it’s only natural that the neglect of leaving the brushes dirty will eventually takes its toll. Usually it will start with a few bristles coming out, then you’ll have trouble getting a perfect points and before you know it, it’s time to replace your brushes.
So, keep some moisturizing soap handy and nearby and your cleaning gear. Set it up on a nearby table when you start painting, so that you don’t have to go fetch it and set it up later and risk procrastination. If you get in the habit now of always cleaning and moisturizing immediately after use, then you can get many, many years out of your favorite brushes. It’s well worth the time!
Does oil paint ruin brushes?
If you don’t clean them regularly, then your paint brushes will not be long for this world. Even leaving it out overnight is chancy at best and might well ruin the brush in one fell swoop. Unlike some paints that will just harden, oils are pretty rough on brushes, as they undergo quite a few changes when they dry and the linseed or other solvents you’ve got mixed in don’t really do the bristles any favors.
As long as you clean them regularly as you go and when you finish, however, the paints are going to be just fine. After all, that is what they are designed for, you just have to be careful about cleaning and not letting those chemicals sit on the bristles for too long in one sitting.
Take good care of your paintbrushes and they’ll take good care of you – get in the habit now or you can repent at your own leisure!
Some final words on your oil brushes
Today I’ve talked about oil paint brushes and the beating they take turning our imaginations into beautiful works on canvas. Oil paint brushes can last decades if you take really good care of them but you need to be meticulous. Clean as you go and don’t forget to moisturize the tips – soaps like Dove have moisturizers that helps to keep the spring in your points. Beyond that, just don’t procrastinate… one night without cleaning can end a good brush.
Before I close out this little exploration in paint-brush maintenance and care, I’ve got a nice 3rd party link for you about cleaning your brushes. It’s got some useful tips to help you in getting some extra mileage out of those bristles. I hope that you enjoy it and we’ll talk again soon!