Turpenoid Natural has been part of my regular oil painting routine since the mid-’90s. The solvent is non-toxic, incredible for cleaning brushes, and can even be used as an oil painting medium. It’s one of the products I rely on for keeping my paintbrushes in great shape.
My gallon container was getting low, so I went online two mornings ago to buy some more. I’m not sure why, but all the major art suppliers no longer offer the gallon-sized Turpenoid Natural container. The biggest option now seems to be a quart.
Since my art supplies list blog has a link for buying it, I thought I better share my attempt to purchase some and what you can expect. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they are not phasing out the product.
Turpenoid Natural for Cleaning Brushes
There are many great methods for cleaning paintbrushes. Use what works best for you.
Turpenoid Natural has been my go-to for cleaning brushes since about 1994-5. I’ve tried out several other products like The Masters Brush Cleaner or Dawn Dish Soap (many artists also use Murphy’s Oil Soap) but now it is exclusively Turpenoid Natural.
The main reason I avoid soap and water is that it strips the oils from the natural-hair brushes. Turpenoid Natural not only cleans every bit of color from my brushes (right up to the ferrule), it also keeps my brushes beautifully conditioned, so the edge stays razor sharp for painting.
Even Symi from Rosemary Brushes praised and recommends Turpenoid Natural for cleaning and conditioning brushes. She also recommends Safflower Oil as a good alternative for toxic-free paintbrush cleaning. Gamblin sells Safflower Oil to use as a brush cleaner and medium, but I haven’t tried it out so I’m not sure how well it works. Utrecht also has Safflower Oil that is less expensive than Gamblin’s (although it is a few dollars more than Turpenoid Natural).
Here’s a link to the interview where Symi talks about Turpenoid being a miracle brush restorer (fast forward to 22:19) : Rosemary Brushes – Interview with Symi on Artists Helping Artists
FYI – I use two containers filled with Turpenoid Natural to clean my brushes. One with a scrub tray in it for the initial cleaning to get most of the paint out and one with clean Turpenoid Natural for the final cleaning stages.
You never have to get rid of a cloudy container of solvent. The paint will settle to the bottom of the container within a few days or so.
Turpenoid as an Oil Painting Medium
My recommendation is DON’T use it as an oil painting medium even though they say you can.
Throughout the 90s, I was in a gallery up in Aspen, Colorado – the Pam Driscoll gallery – and they got me a commission for a 50×30 inch waterfall painting. Even though I’d been using Turpenoid Natural for cleaning my brushes, I had just noticed on the back of the can that it could be used as an oil painting medium. It was such a large painting, I thought, you know what, instead of mineral spirits, I’ll try out the Turpenoid Natural for my initial washes, maybe it’ll be healthier for me.
It was especially unwise trying it out for the first time on a commission painting rather than a practice piece. That’s what happens when I get in too much of a hurry. It was not a brilliant move on my part, but I did learn a good lesson from it.
That painting after three weeks was still tacky. It never dried thoroughly. I had to rework the entire painting.
Art materials researchers don’t know the long-term effects on our paintings of many of the mediums on the market today. They do know that professional-grade paint straight from the tube, especially lead-based paints, have the longest lifespan with the fewest problems. Any additive besides oil and pigment, including many oil painting mediums, has the potential to weaken the paint film.
Turpenoid Natural definitely softens the paint film. Since we don’t know the long-term effects of using that as a medium, it’s best to avoid it.
Buying Tupenoid Natural Online
So, let’s get back now to buying Turpenoid Natural online. I buy it in the gallon container because I like to have at least a year’s supply on hand. The gallon I have right now I bought from Utrecht in April, 2019.
Since my container was near the end, I went online to buy some more. Nobody, not Blick, Jerry’s Artarama, or Amazon was carrying gallon containers anymore. The largest container they have is a quart (32 ounces or 946 milliliters). By the way, at the quart size, Amazon has the best price ($19.84 at the time of this writing) as long as you have free shipping with Prime.
After failing to find a gallon of Turpenoid Natural at my usual shops I began to wonder if Martin F Weber stopped making the gallon size or was discontinuing the product, so I went to their website. Nope, it’s still there.
What’s up Weber? Are you just behind on production or are you discontinuing the gallon size cans of Turpenoid Natural? (update – I just did some more research and found that Martin F Weber was bought out by ChartPak in 2018 – I don’t know what will happen with the Turpenoid line of products)
Artist Supply Source is where I finally found it in the gallon containers. I noticed the photo was of the old metal containers and the thought came that it might be old inventory and I should stock up while they still had some. So, I purchased two gallons and decided I better share the link with our community in case Turpenoid Natural is discontinuing their large containers.
Buying two gallons helped since there was a hefty shipping cost. At that price, I saved around $34 over buying two gallons (8 quarts) from Blick Art Supplies.
Yesterday, I finished the blog and got the video completed and ready to put up on YouTube. Then I began putting in the links so you could find the best price as well. When I clicked the link for Artists Supply Source I couldn’t find the gallon-sized Turpenoid Natural. I even went to my browser history to find the exact link and the gallon containers were missing.
I started to get that sinking feeling and jumped over to my emails. Yep, that feeling was right on the money. It seems that old stock of Turpenoid Natural did not exist.
The message that came in the email that afternoon said: “Dear Bill Inman, this message is to confirm that your order has been canceled, a refund if pending will be issued shortly.” I didn’t cancel that order. They must have canceled that order because they realized they didn’t have the product in their inventory. Not the best inventory checking system there.
Considering they’re the ones that canceled my order, I thought there would be something more like, “Dear Bill Inman, we are so sorry that we don’t have this product in stock. We thought we did. We have refunded your money.”
Turns out Artist Supply Source is part of a larger conglomerate of companies. Artists Supply Source is consequently not on my go-to list. I’m so grateful the email came BEFORE I sent the link out to all of you.
Since that great price is no longer available, Amazon has the best price on the quart size (at the moment at least). If you find a place to buy Turpenoid Natural, or any art supplies, at a better price for our community please let us know.