Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Oil painting CAN mean easy clean up. Seriously!

If you're anything like me when I began painting I avoided oils like the plague. They seemed too complicated to me and the thought of cleaning up with harsh chemicals every time I felt the urge to paint was a little overwhelming. I stuck with Acrylic and that worked for me.

The mysterious world of oil paint would have to wait, and wait it did. More than twenty years an artist before I was basically pushed into using them by my spouse. (I was gifted a french easel and a full set of oils and brushes for christmas. Oh, the nerve!) I couldn't let it sit around taunting me so I decided to begin my foray into the mysterious world of oils.

Turns out... not so mysterious after all. That was all in my head.

I've overcome my two main concerns/fears/obstacles to painting with oils. #1 was drying time and #2 was clean up. We'll talk about my bumbling mistakes in watching paint dry in some other post, this one is about easy clean up.

I decided to write this one because more than one friend has expressed dismay at oil paints and clean up, then asked my advice!?  I know! MY advice?  I'm as shocked as you are.  I am new to all of this but, if showing someone else what I'm doing will help them in any way, I'll give it a go.

To start with, I use palette paper. Always use palette paper. This means I do not need to clean my palette, which could be quite messy. I just have to throw it away after reclaiming any paint that I can.
Easy Peasy.

Next, instead of toxic, smelly, turpentine or the like, I found this Turpenoid Natural, an all natural. nontoxic, nonflammable brush cleaner and conditioner.  It's a bit pricey at about $40 on average per 32 fl. oz. but if you buy it at Michael's and catch it on sale or at least with their always offered 40% off coupon online, it's not so bad. You can also find a good deal on Amazon every once in awhile. This method of using this product will make it last a very, very, very long time too, so, there's that.

This and a jar with metal mesh changed my life.  Seriously!

This is how simple oil paint clean up is for me now.  No smell.  No mess.  <3

Step 1:  
Open jar with mesh in the bottom containing Turpenoid Natural.  It's not normally pink, I was painting a lot of red yesterday and it hasn't completely settled on the bottom yet.
the liquid just covers the mesh.  It should be fully submerged.
Step 2: 
Squeegee the paint out of the brush either with a newspaper or paper towel.
Get as much paint out as you can.

Step 3:
Put the brush in the jar.  Almost immediately the paint begins to dissolve.  Then rub the brush over the mesh.  I do it in a circle.  Continue until clean. (This works great on old dried brushes you thought were ruined too, it just takes a little longer.)  
Just inserted.

first swirl around.

Almost done.
Step 4:
Wipe the remaining liquid off of the brush back into the jar.  The paint will settle into a sediment layer on the bottom of the jar and the liquid will appear almost clear (yellowish) again in a day or two.
Conserve and get as much back in the jar as possible.
Step 5:
Rinse the brush in water.  Gasp!  I know, but it is nontoxic and this is proper and safe.
A final rinse.
That's it.  I sometimes will dip a clean brush that needs some TLC into the bottle, pinch it dry with my finger tips and let it sit overnight.  

This works on all size brushes.  I often paint in large format and have used house painting brushes.  If you can find a jar and some mesh your brush will fit in, it will clean and condition that brush.


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