Why do my brushes do this?!?

Can anyone help me figure out why this keeps happening? The bristles on my brushes wear down at an incredibly rapid rate! I'm talking replacing my brushes every 1.5 paintings I do...
Now I do technically know why my brushes are doing this but I'd like to know what I can do to alleviate it, anything short of changing my technique. I paint in oils and I paint thinly....very thinly. I don't dilute the paint with any thinners, I apply it to the canvas and essentially scrub with my brush until the desired thinness...So obviously the amount of friction from my scrubbing is causing my bristles to wear down...but I've never heard of any body replacing brushes every 1.5 paintings strictly due to technique....I clean my brushes after every session and they just look so used and abused? Should I be using mediums to enhance spreadability thus lowering the amount of friction the brush endures? 


  • I'd also like to thank the creators of the site because I had previously just signed up to wet canvas to ask this question (was unaware this site even existed) but only to find out that I had to wait for my account to get apporved and blah blah blah all this nonsense I couldnt post and my pictures were too big to fit on there anyway.....not to mention the ugly site layout. But THIS place has just such a user-friendly interface, no waiting period, my pictures arent too big....This place is great already. 
  • LogosChroma

    Welcome to the DMP Forum.

    Buy the best you can afford.
    No soaps. No water. No solvents.
    Use pull or dab strokes. Scrub and scumble with crap brushes.
    Use several walnut oil (with 2% clove oil) suspension/immersion baths to clean brushes and to store between sessions.
    Have three sets of brushes active in a session for light, medium and dark pigments. Reduces value contamination and frequent cleaning.

    In previous answers to this question I admitted to owning about 300 brushes. I have never had to throw any away in ten years of casual painting, all look clean, shaped and fit for purpose

    If I get a rare accumulation of dried paint or polymerised oil on my brush it gets a soak in a hydrogen peroxide cleaner, then rinsed and dried. Oil bath storage.

    Really dire cases, like once in three years, of dried paint gets a soak in citrus based paint stripper.

  • edited March 2021
    Hi, @LogoChroma. Welcome to the forum. I also do a bit of dry scrubbing in, especially in the early stages of a painting. It's murder on your brushes. So, I keep a cheap set just for scrubbing and use them until they a just a stub. I never use my good brushes for scrubbing in. I don't wash my brushes but let them rest in walnut oil between uses. They last forever and stay in good nick. The ones I use for scrubbing in are dirt cheap so it doesn't matter that they wear out quickly.   :)
  • Stop painting on sandpaper. 

    It looks like scissors snuck out at night and trimmed your brushes. 
    Unless you’re painting on concrete. Maybe they’re just incredibly cheap brushes. 
    I’m very suspect. I’m the king of scrubbing scumbling and pushing brushes until they splay. Even leaving them to dry. I do everything to kill them. Some of my better bristles show a little wear. But that brush then has character. None of my punished brushes look remotely like those. 
    They brushes pictured seem to be synthetic. I can’t ruin a synthetic brush as hard as I try.  

  • Wow! That's some wear.. I think Ester who used to post her cabbage paintings here had a similar problem due to pushing (and scrubbing) with the brush rather than pulling.

    Kingston is right about the surface. Are you painting on a rough rather than smooth surface?
  • Wow. So much great advice given here. Thank you guys! My last two paintings were on rough textured ampersand boards but I have the same problem on canvas. I usually use synthetic Princeton or Master's Touch brushes from hobby lobby so I'm not sure where those fall in the quality category. I really like the suggestions of using different sets of brush per dark/med/light tones as well having different quality brushes for scrubbing in...along with soaking them in oil, I was soaking them in rubbing alcohol between sessions. My only problem is that I'm heavily influenced by Maxfield Parrish so I tend to use scrubbing throughout all stages of the painting... 
    But thanks again for all the great feedback!
  • @LogosChroma
    Rubbing alcohol is the problem. It eats oil paint and some plastics. When I clean an acrylic palette it dissolves the paint. 
    Use Gamsol and some sort of oil while working. Clean brushes with an oil based cleaner. Never ever let alcohol get near your oil paint. Never. Have enough brushes to isolate and retire as the begin to feel tire.
    Do you think Van Gogh worried about the direction of his brush stroke? You can punish good brushes. W&N, Princeton Bristle. Rosemary not so much. Sables never. Good synthetics seem to never wear out. 
  • @KingstonFineArt Oh okay... ifigured since alcohol was a solvent it was like letting your brushes sit in terpentine....which Im not sure if thats kosher or not either lol
  • @LogosChroma
    Best to oil them in Artist Safflower . But then you have to wash in ons and linseed before you start painting again. Alcohol is good for clearing your palette.
  • LogosChroma - 
    I now realize that you are a Parrish acolyte. I too admire his work, but have no desire to repeat his poor painting techniques. (I am a heretic and I am too busy inventing my own poor techniques.)  

    Scrubbing with a brush will wear it out faster than not scrubbing. Painting on a ground containing calcium which has not been sanded down will wear out your brush.

    I think scrubbing is unnecessary to achieve Parrish’s glowing layers. I think there are probably several good ways to achieve anything, and Parrish did not have a corner on the glowing market. You may wish to read through this site, which has a lot of really good information (materials and process) about achieving glow using modern materials and techniques. This painter does not scrub, but uses a stipple brush in a tapping motion. 
    The Parrish Project | A fine WordPress.com site

    I hope this is helpful. 
  • @Desertsky ah yes I've came across this person before thank you for bringing him back into my attention (i have been trying to remember where i saw him). Also, now that you mention I think any time you have varnish in the middle of the painting. Im thinking about this fun painting I did with my toddler and it was over a varnished painting that i was going to throw it and I did with her in acrylics (acrylics over oil, sheesh) and then i applied a generous amount of copal varnish on top of that and that thing  GLOWS 
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