Oil painting is an excellent medium for portrait photography and other delicate work.

If you are going to use oils regularly, pay attention to which brushes you choose and how you clean them. Firstly, you need a well-rounded set of brushes that will always be available for oil painting:

1          The basic brushes for oil portrait painting:

Bright brush: A flat brush that has shorter bristles perfect for filling in different areas during shading.

Round: The standard round brush for building the first features of the face and filling in backgrounds.

Filbert: A standard Filbert brush is fantastic for hair and other finer details.

Fine round: A finer round brush is an ideal choice for completing details on the eyes, eyebrows and other fine features throughout the face.

These basic brushes will help you as you get started and develop your style.  Continue to experiment with assorted styles to build up your ideal set from W T Clark & Co of Coleshill, Birmingham.

Ok, so what about cleaning them?

2          Cleaning the brushes:

The easiest way to care for oil paint brushes is with the help of mineral spirits.

Odorless mineral spirits and a rag can really help to preserve your brushes while gently cleaning away oil paint. If oil paint has time to dry on brushes this can sometimes detract from the quality as well as make them very difficult to clean later on. Be sure to thoroughly clean brushes if you are going to add lighter colours over dark and ensure that the brush bristles are fully dried before adding any light-coloured paint.

Brushes need only be changed when you need a distinct size or a different shape. With proper cleaning, you can care for your brushes and re-use the same brushes over an over.

Oh, and happy oil painting!