Monday, November 7, 2016

How to keep the oil painting palette fresh

How to keep the oils on the palette fresh after work?
One can read quite a lot about this... Some artists freeze their palettes, some put it under water. Some add substances to their paints. Some companies offer products with clove oil. Some artist cover the palette with a plastic foil. Etc, etc, etc. Some artists stop bothering and keep losing expensive paint drying out on the palette. The latter type has been me! Some methods work insofar that the paint stays wet... They are just too much of a hassle. Cooling has been my prefered option but over time my palettes have grown and do not fit into the fridge anymore! No my palettes are not special, i just have several. Therfore i started to experiment a bit ... and proudly present... ;-)

I keep my palette fresh by putting it into a large vaccum bag (often reusable, available in different sizes, i bought a package of three for 8€ in a bed shop, size up to 100 cm x 70cm. They are intended for the storage of clothes and pillows) and fill it with CO2 gas from the bottle. Nitrogen/Argon has the same effect. A refill of my 10kg gas bottle costs 20€ and will fill the vacuum back hundreds of times...

The video shows the fastest drying paint on my palette... Burnt umber. After 48 hours a dry film on the pile has developed when kept under air. After 48 hours under CO2 burnt umber is like fresh from the tube.
Interested? Just contact me..... I sell "Ruckstuhl's palette conserving bag" for just 200€.... Get the three bags for the price of two!   ;-D


Michael Lang said...

Fascinating and original method, Thomas. Makes me think of a few things:
- How safe is CO2 in the home?
- Is 48 hours the limit? If not, how long will the paint keep in CO2?
- Are there any other gases that would work?
- I think it is worth mentioning the pill-box method of storing paint and also the method of keeping paint under water.

Thomas Ruckstuhl said...

Thanks Michael!
A trivial method to keep away the oxygen from the paints. As mentioned, other gases work too. Nitrogen, Argon...
To make beer on tap needs CO2. I just read that Typically a 10kg CO2 bottle is empty after 400liters beer.
Co2 bottles are also needed for home aquariums.... Well, one should follow the instructions of the supplier.
There are no special requirements/education needed for home use. Anyone can buy those gases in home improvement stores in Germany. Being careful anyway is always good. Water can be a killer too.
As I mentioned, storing a palette under water works too. The water can be reused a couple of times but then needs to be exchanged. Bacteria love the oily water and it becomes milky after a while. Also the drying of the palette each morning and the remaining residuals...not just nice in my bathroom... Works but is a hassle.
I do not know and find little about the "pill box method" you mentioned. Please explain!
My requirement is just this: a palette with mixed paint is part of the art itsef, in particular the moods! I want to reuse it exactly the way i left it the day before. taking care of all the piles of paint in individual boxes is absolutely no option for me.
I do not know whether the paint can be stored under an inert gas like Co2 or N2 for many days/weeks. I will naturally gather more experience on thiis and will let you know. But have no plans to further investigate... No intensions to make money... Glad if "my method" is of help for someone. Of course it's much better than under air.....
Finally i have a wish! Please let no former collegue from physical chemistry come across this post.... I imagine the sarcastic comments...
Thomas.... What a brilliant idea! ;-P

Charlotte said...

If the idea is to replace oxygen with CO2, would it be sufficient to merely breathe (blow) into the bag to replace the ambient room air? Or would exhalation still retain sufficient oxygen to allow the paint to oxidize?

Thomas Ruckstuhl said...

Charlotte, thanks for the question. The answer is no. The oxygen content in air is 21% and 18% after a breathstroke. Also a candle in a sealed bag wouldn't work. Would stop burning at around 17% oxygen content.

Anonymous said...

Dear Thomas,
your former colleagues from physical chemistry are of course following you :o
And yes, it is a brilliant idea :)

Thomas Ruckstuhl said...

Hi Mück :-D
Brilliant to read from you here! Thanks for your generous comment... Inspite the fact i forgot about proper citations, detailed material section, etc...
Knowing you like the idea.... Oh no i forgot to apply for a patent ;)
Hope you're doing fine and we'll find an opportunity to talk about the good old times!

Michael Lang said...

The pill-box method is covered in the VAA. I use