Oil painting gets messy. After all, oil paint is a vegetable-based oil, meant to stick on a surface, bond with it, and never break free. Good oil paints never fade. Heaven forbid you ever get alizarin crimson on your carpet. (Hint: Just get a new carpet.)
Once you realize the utter hopeless mess of oil paint, Robert Rauschenberg's famous 'Bed' becomes an admission of practical defeat rather than a leap of creativity. One fleck of paint on the bed, and it's all over. Might as well paint the whole bed and turn it into an art piece.
While acrylic paint can easily be removed from most surfaces by nail polish remover, oils take bit more work.
The first key is prevention. Let's look at the master.
When Bob Ross paints, the first asset he has that prevents cleanup from even coming into the picture is space. He has enough space to work, and enough space to mix paints. The huge palette isn't just for show - it gives him the ultimate art tool: space.
One aspect of painting that Bob Ross downplays is the ultimate importance of keeping a brush or a knife clean. He goes through the brush cleaning process so fast that most people miss it. This quickness is a part of success - fast cleanup is the best cleanup.
Paper towels are good for cleaning wet palette knives, but for cleaning semi-dry brushes, here are some good tools:
For cleaning up hands and brushes, I love Soho Studio Wipes:
Soho Studio Wipes are much like makeup removal cloths from Neutrogena or Garnier. In fact, it might be slightly more safe to use makeup removal cloths to swipe the alarazin crimson from your elbows. I use makeup removal cloths on my brushes, with an inkling that somehow the gentler formula conditions the brush hairs.
Both the Soho Studio wipes and makeup removal cloths will run at $5 per package, with more cloths being available in the Soho canister.
To remove paint from carpet, Micellar Cleansing Water ($5) does a good job. This bottle of soft water is like a makeup removal cloth, minus the cloth. It works well at removing small dots of paint from carpet.
Here is a dot of pthalo blue that I tracked onto my carpet:
To get rid of the dot, I applied micellar cleansing water. Out demons out!
After a few seconds of rubbing the carpet, the spot is almost totally gone! Woo hoo!
Magic! Micellar water is new and weird in the cosmetics world, but it serves a great unforeseen purpose as an art cleanup solution.
Hope you enjoyed this blog on painting cleanup!