Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Oil Painting Saga Continues... Cleaning My Brushes!

Back in college (yes, email was just being discovered and I typed my term papers on the first Macintosh - a "portable computer"), even back then we were actually trying to be environmentally conscious and often used Simple Green to clean up our oil painting messes as an alternative to turpentine and other noxious stuff. Amazingly enough, even though personal computers have made leaps and bounds, the environmentally conscious oil painting artist is still left with... Simple Green.

Or are they?

Well... basically yes. However, gratefully, there are many similar products now on the market, each with their own story of effectiveness, environmental friendliness, and manufacturing process. So, I thought I would give a new product a try. It's advertised as biodegradable, 100% plant derived, and produced completely in the USA.

Back to oil painting...

So, back in time again, we used to clean our brushes by (as best I remember)...
  1. wiping all excess oil paint onto our palette and then onto a paint rag
  2. rinsing brush in a turpentine based brush cleaner (using a wire coil at the bottom of a jelly jar to help dislodge as much oil paint as possible and then re-seal with the screw on top for use again later)
  3. spraying brushes down with Simple Green and further working bristles in a utility sink
  4. finishing cleaning with a mild soap and water
Given the process, I often left my brushes in step 1 for several paint sessions before making it to steps 2-4. Remember - I was trained by mostly abstract expressionists!

Well, presently, as I continue work on a new oil painting I decided to skip step 2 altogether (since I don't own any turpentine or such product anyway and have been thinning my oil paint with Walnut Oil instead) and try cleaning with a 1:1 ratio of cleaner and water using the BioGreenClean product.

What do you know - it worked!

And... it did a pretty good job on my kitchen counters, tub, and shower curtain too (using a less potent 3:1 ratio). I'll still use baking soda to scrub the worst parts of the tub though. It's by far my favorite cleaner of choice!

4ft x 4ft oil painting

And about the oil painting?... it's still progressing. To see the last progression, check it out in my previous post HERE.

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