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Working in an eco-conscious way with oil paints (Part 2)

Last week I have begun to share how I am working with traditional oil paints in a way which will hopefully minimise the impact on the environment. Here are some further considerations:

Leftover paint

I have tried to keep leftover paint overnight in a plastic box. This worked quite well in the past with acrylics and eco household paints, but it does not work so well with oils. The oil paints seem to change consistency and are harder to work with.

I have heard that some people keep oil paints in the freezer. I have not got the space to experiment with this, so any paint that is leftover is now used up in my Khadi sketchbook - "doodling" with paint helps me to get to know my brushes better. It also helps me to wind down after a painting session, which is a bonus.

Cleaning brushes

I am experimenting with using rags rather than recycled paper towels to wipe my brushes, though this takes discipline. I try to allocate a separate area on a rag for each of the different shades to avoid contaminating my paints. I then let the rag dry before using it again.

From my research, I was aware that there were eco-friendly alternatives to turpentine to clean brushes, but I did not know that I could simply use dishwasher soap. I recently bought an unscented eco-friendly dishwasher soap in Germany. It has grooves, which helps to thoroughly clean the brushes. Cleaning brushes has turned out to be quite a meditative process at the end of a painting day. (However, if I am in a rush, I will use Zest It Brush Cleaner and Thinner.)

After rinsing the brushes in warm water, I let the water stand until the oil settles. I wipe away the oil residues to minimize the amount of pigment that ends up in the waterways.

Initially, I tried to use a different brush for each shade of grey, but this got too confusing. It also meant that there were a lot of brushes to clean at the end of a painting session. With a bit of practice, I have found that I can do most jobs with one large brush. I use a small brush for very fine details.

Slowing down drying time

I have learned that some linseed oil can be replaced with pure clove oil to slow down the drying time of oil paint.

I am currently enjoying my virtually smell-free studio, so have not tried this out. However, I always have clove oil in my medicine cupboard, and it is great to know that there is another use for this useful essential oil.


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