Another dragon painting, this one set against a forested mountain valley.
I discovered a cheap alternative to using expensive and potentially toxic solvents for cleaning brushes. Read on for the exciting details!
I was using Turpenol, the mineral spirits in the blue and white can. It does a fine job, but it dries the bristles out and it’s toxic. The last time I went to the art supply store for more paint and replacement brushes, the lady recommended that I dip the bristles in castor oil after washing them. That gave me an idea. If castor oil can be used to keep the brush bristles supple, and doesn’t hurt the paint, maybe other non-toxic oils could be used for similar purposes. So I took a little jar and filled it with canola oil and dipped my brushes in that after washing them. It worked awesome. The brushes seem to be lasting, the bristles aren’t shedding all over the paintings.
In addition to that, the nice, thin oil in the jar absorbed a bit of the paint. I found that out after dabbing the brush on a paper towel a couple days after dipping it in the oil to keep the bristles moist. It makes sense, though. Linseed or safflower oil is a main ingredient in oil paints, and that’s just a type of vegetable oil that turns into resin after a while. Canola oil doesn’t seem to do that (at least, not as quickly as linseed oil does), but it does dilute the paint really well. So I got a giant jug of cheap-ass vegetable oil for like 4 bucks, instead of 15 bucks for a tiny can of solvent, and I use that for cleaning brushes now. I don’t have to worry about toxic fumes or safe disposal or expensive trips to the art supply store. When it gets too clouded, I dump it on the lawn. It’s vegetable matter, it nourishes the soil. It’s edible, so birds can hop around in it and not get poisoned and die.
Actually… some of the paints contain pigments derived from toxic metals. I don’t think I have any paints with lead in them (I use Titanium White), but cadmium is quite toxic