Leah's Eco-friendly Oil Painting Guide:
How to Eliminate All Toxins from the Oil Painting Process
Solvents such as turpentine, paint thinner, mineral spirits, and varnish emit toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as they dry. When poured down the sink, they send harsh toxins into our water supply. They also continue to off-gas from your finished paintings. The use of solvents as a paint thinner and brush cleaner is a relatively recent development in art history. Instead of solvents, traditional oil painters such as Rembrandt typically used walnut or linseed oil to thin their paint and clean their brushes.
- Walnut oil works well and Murphy’s Oil Soap (from the hardware store) also works. The most effective brush cleaner is Eco Solve, a natural and non-toxic, soy-based paint thinner and brush cleaner. Eco-solve is the best for cleaning brushes whilst painting - quickly rinsing off paint and switching colors. It also restores dried brushes. You can "re-use" it by letting the paint sediment settle and pouring the clean Eco-solve off the top into another jar.
- Wipe off as much paint as you can with a rag; then swish your brush in a small amount of Eco-Solve, Murphy’s oil soap or walnut oil; then rinse.
- Give them a final wash in the palm of your hand with soap and water.
To thin paint: Use walnut oil, linseed oil, or poppyseed oil to make paint more fluid. To create washes, under-paintings or more watery, dripping effects (like you might create with solvents) use Eco-Solve.
To make your oil paint dry faster: Add a tiny touch of raw or burnt umber to your paints. Or add limestone powder to your mixed paints. A low-toxin option is also Walnut Alkyd Medium (by M.Graham) - mix a little with your walnut oil "medium". Other options are to use a heat lamp (like used for lizards) or to paint thinly. Painters of the Renaissance added small amounts of egg yolk to their oil paints to make them dry faster.
Cleaning hands: “Pinerite - All Natural Colorado Pine Soap" is amazing!
This heavy-duty, natural and non-toxic soap is the most effective AND sustainably made hand soap for removing oil paint that we have found. It easily cleans oil paint off your hands.
When buying other oil paints, be aware that over a dozen colors contain severe toxins such as lead, mercury, cobalt, arsenic, cadmium, and barium. See our Health & Safety page for a list of these toxic, conventional paints. If these paints touch your bare skin, the heavy metals can quickly pass into your bloodstream! Natural earth oil paints mix perfectly with conventional tubed oil paints but be wary of the colors you're choosing.
Detox: If you have used toxic paints and materials for years, learn how to detox those nasty chemicals from your body.
Call to artists: Email photos of your eco oil paintings, and we will post them in the Gallery with a link to your website if you have one. Enjoy non toxic oil painting and breathe easy!
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