Baby Oil for Cleaning Oil Paint Brushes 

Updated: Mar 19

The above painting was created with oil paints over an acrylic background.

After painting mostly with acrylics for the last few years, I have been falling in love with oils. Just like with any other medium there are advantages, disadvantages and a lot of a learning curve. One of the things I am still not sure what to think about is the exposure to fumes of paint thinners.

My studio is the smallest room in my house and I live in a climate where opening windows is not an option for good six months of the year. So, reading about cleaning brushes with baby oil got me excited until I learned that baby oil does not ever fully dry like other oils do. Then if I use baby oil to clean the brushes and there's some baby oil residue in the bristles and it gets mixed with the oil paint then this affects the quality of my painting. Therefore, I decided to try safflower oil.

Here is my safflower oil cleaning jar. You can see that the oil is cloudy. The sediments don't settle down like they do in a Gamsol jar. But yes, the brushes clean well and no, there's no fumes. However, it's hard to wipe all the safflower residue from the bristles and therefore glazing might be problematic because of too much fat in the paint layer.

Conclusion: I am going to use both, Gamsol and Safflower oil depending on whether I'm working alla prima or in many thin layers.

Is any safflower oil OK? I wouldn't go for any oils used for cooking. Cooking oils are processed to be optimal digestable products whereas artist quality oils were processed to be used with paints.

Happy painting!


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