Friday, July 27, 2012

The Miracle of Murphy's Oil Soap - and a Limited Oil Palette



Back when I was in Ohio teaching a workshop earlier this spring, my host and artist friend Ruth Ann Sturgill showed me a little trick.  Cleaning brushes is a snap with Murphy's Oil Soap and a large toy tennis ball such as you might buy for a dog.

I used to be a big fan of Turpenoid Natural, but Murphy's is cheaper, readily available in most grocery stores and works just as well.  The tennis ball is cut in half, and rather than rubbing brushes in the palm of your hand, you scrub the brushes in the ball.  The ball has the same shape as your cupped palm, but it's a lot more durable.  Plus, the dissolved paint won't penetrate your skin and get into your system.

This week, I had students from Maine, New Hampshire and faraway France.  Although we had a small amount of rain and fog, we had some excellent weather, too.  Today, we had clearing weather, and I did two small demonstrations.  In the first, I use my usual six-color, split-primary palette; in the second, I used a limited palette of cadmium yellow light, alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue.  The choice of reds in this palette is important.  Cadmium red will push the painting more into the warm range; alizarin crimson will keep the harmony a little cooler.  (6x8 on the left; 5x7 on the right; both in Art Cocoons.)


6x8, six-color split-primary palette

5x7, three-color limited palette

By the way, I still have some space left in the summer workshops.  Visit www.PaintCampobello.com for full details.

7 comments:

Kim said...

I had no idea! I'll have to try that!

Daniela said...

I wonder if you still used the 2 "cheats" you mentioned that you use - sap green and burnt sienna in these 2 mixes...and, don't worry, I will never paint in such an accomplished style as you do so your secret is safe with me..

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Actually, no! I haven't used them in awhile. My 6-color palette is: cad yellow lt, cad yellow deep, cad red permanent aliz crimson, ultra blue, phthalo green. Chromatic black has won a seat at the table, and it's there all the time now. Not for darkening but for dulling.

Yvonne Todd said...

An easy brush cleaner is vaseline. Remove paint in your brush cleaner and then dip your brush in vaseline. Work brush back and forth on a paper towel - redipping as necessary - until you see no more paint. Shape your brush and you are good to go. No drying effects from soap. Since I started using vaseline my brushes are lasting longer.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

I've heard that, Yvonne. I imagine you're getting all the Vaseline out of the bristles? Vaseline is a byproduct of petroleum production (like mineral oil) and is non-drying; too much might taint the vegetable oil in oil paints and have an impact on the drying rate.

Yvonne Todd said...

I always make sure I wash the brush in clean mineral spirits before I start painting so I've never had a problem with drying. I also like it because it because you can't spill it and I can put it in a film canister so it doesn't take up any room in my pack.

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

That's excellent!