Saturday, July 20, 2013

Spills, Streaks and Stains: How To Clean Up After A Painting Session

If you are an oil painter, you know that cleaning up after painting is a necessity, but we also have to clean up after all our little paint accidents.  A painting pal recently emailed me to see what products I use to clean up after her feline assistant got into the paint and I thought you guys might be interested as well.  Let's get started...

Over the last year, I've started wearing gloves to set up and clean up my palette.  You know those old photos of artists all dressed up while they are painting?  That's not me.  When I am painting I make a mess (so the opposite of my Felix Unger tendencies), so I've had to try to minimize this and wearing gloves really helps.  They keep the paint and mediums off of my skin and in turn, with the paint all on the gloves, I'm not spreading it around to everything else that I touch.  You can easily get them in boxes from the drugstore.  I use the same gloves a few times to cut down on waste.   A good tip:  if you want to re-use a pair of gloves but are having a hard time getting them on, blow into them like a balloon.  Opens them right up.  These are like the gloves I use, but like I said, anything from the drugstore is fine, just make sure they are powder free.

When I am painting, I wear an old t shirt over my clothes to try to cut down on the mess, but it doesn't always stop the paint from getting where it shouldn't, so I've had to experiment with some products to get paint stains out of clothes.  If the paint is still wet, a baby wipe can sometimes get all of the paint out of material.  I've tried them all and the two that seem to work are Earth's Best baby wipes and the 365 Whole Foods brand.  Both are aloe vera based and do the trick.  They also work very well on your hands, hair, face, cats and anything else that ends up with paint where it shouldn't be.

When you have stubborn stains or dried paint to deal with, I use Master's Brush Soap.  I've been using this soap for years and love it.  I started using it to clean brushes, but quickly discovered that it works on just about everything else as well.  To get stains out of fabric, wet the fabric then rub the soap in and let sit for awhile.  Rinse and repeat if necessary.  This also works on carpet and just about any kind of material.  It also works on cats.  When mine was a baby, she decided to amuse herself by jumping onto my palette.  Needless to say, she had to be given a bath right away and the Master's soap cleaned her right up.

I'm sure the soap work on dogs too, but cats seem to be the main culprits in studio dramas!

Did you ever forget to wash your brushes and then the paint dried onto them?  I only started washing my brushes right after using them when I got my studio as there is a slop sink right there.  Before that, I use to let them sit around as washing brushes is a chore I just don't like doing.  I have no idea how I found out about this, but one day I decided to soak them in some Murphy's Oil Soap, and like magic they were as good as new.  Just put some soap into a disposable plastic cup and let the brushes sit for awhile.  I've never had to soak them for more than five or ten minutes, but YMMV depending on how hardened the paint is.  After they are done soaking, I wash them as I normally would with the Master's soap.

The last product I use for clean up in Turpenoid.  I use it not only to clean my palette, but to clean up the mess I make while I'm cleaning my palette.  I scrape my palette down with a painting knife and paint usually goes flying somewhere.  A few weeks ago, I ended up with a blob of white paint on the floor which I then stepped in and tracked around all over the place.  Luckily the floor is painted cement, so I just put some turpenoid on a rag and cleaned it up.

So there you have it.  If you have any questions or tips of your own, leave me a comment.  I'd love to know what others are using in their studios.

*As usual, I was not paid or perked for anything in this post.

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