I have been painting, on and off (mainly off) for a few years and started again recently after one of those pauses that can stretch from a few weeks to several months.
This time I actually finished a painting before becoming bored with it or rejecting it as a failure or lost cause. I am still finding my way as a self-taught beginner so there have been plenty of failures. Just to make it really difficult I prefer to paint portraits but am nowhere near good enough to work from a live subject, so I have been working from photographs. For copyright reasons I cannot show the resulting paintings on this blog, not that there is much to show as yet but this will change.
I have been using Winsor and Newton Artisan water-mixable oils since they were introduced. The Artisan range consists of forty colours plus mediums and a thinner and also a decent selection of brushes. The massive advantage of these paints is that they are water-mixable so you don’t need conventional solvents with fumes and health hazards, not even for cleaning up after painting.
The picture shows some of my most frequently used Artisan brushes that I have owned for years. Given the amount of use they have had I think they look quite clean and have certainly kept their shape. The same remarks apply to W & N’s Galeria brushes which are intended for use with acrylics but are also useful with Artisan oils. Again they are synthetic brushes which enables them to cope well with water-based paints (unlike hogs, used in conventional oil painting, which soon lose their shape and springiness when exposed to water).
My brush cleaning method couldn’t be easier (though I should stress that these comments refer to Winsor and Newton water-mixable paints and I have no experience of other brands): Wipe excess paint off with a rag or tissue, rinse the rest out with cold water, then rub the brush gently against a bar of ordinary toilet soap with a little water, allow to stand for a minute or so while you do the same to the rest of the used brushes, then rinse each brush individually, shake off excess water and leave to dry ready for the next painting session (or use again immediately if necessary). The use of soap is optional but it cleans more thoroughly than water alone.