Don’t get me wrong, in case you thought I was against them…I am all about non-toxic studio practices. In fact, someone recently clued me in to a way of cleaning my (very expensive) litho brayers so that I could give up mineral spirit based solvents once and for all. Huzzah! In a word (or is it two?): Baby Oil. That’s right, a small amount of baby oil on a rag or paper towel, after you have rolled off any excess inks onto newsprint, wipe with said rag till clean, changing the spots that you are wiping with and maybe adding a bit more oil to your rag, and finish up by wiping any excess oil off with a dry clean rag. You don’t need to use a lot, or drown your roller in oil. Huzzah! No solvents.
The ranting part of this post is to correct the idea that oil paints in and of themselves are solvent based. They are not. The same cannot be said for oil based house paints and stains, but that is not my department. I’m talking about artist grade oil paints. They are made from pigment and linseed (or walnut) oil, period.
I tend to grind my teeth and start to yell when people refer to “water-based oils.” They are NOT water BASED, they are water SOLUBLE . BIG difference. Water soluble oils have had something done to the oil that binds the pigment together, which allows you to thin and clean up with water, sorta. I say sorta, because it really doesn’t work very well, and the texture of the several brands that I have tried, is, quite frankly, nasty. You can get used to anything, I suppose, but why should you? The pigment is the same and do you really want to wash that stuff into your drains/septic system? I don’t.
Why not use good quality paint and use non toxic work and clean up methods? (Duh…why didn’t I think of that?) Remember that baby oil that you now have on hand to clean your brayers? I keep a jar that I bought from the art supply store, which has a metal coil halfway up the depth of the jar, and I fill it to about 1/2 inch above the coil with baby oil. Gently brushing your brushes (which you have of course wiped off on you painting rag so there is very little paint on them) over the coil in the baby oil gets about 80-90% of the paint off your brushes. For a final rinse, I have a jar of Soy Solve, a soy bean product sold in art stores, which I rinse the brushes until they are clean. Every once in awhile I wash the brushes with brush soap and water. Don’t use dish soap, it will dry them out. A little flat container of masters brush soap will last a long time. If you use great big brushes, it also comes in a pint (?) tub, which will also last a long time.
No open jars of turpentine or paint thinner. Zippo, none, nada. I get to use really good oil paints (my brand of choice is Vasari Oil Colors, made in small batches the old-fashioned way) that are fun to work with. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose but that nagging headache from having solvents in your studio.