A tip for cleaning up dirty oil color palette


I found out this trick to clean up dirty oil paint palette by accident. One time I left a puddle of acrylic paint in a tray and forgot it. The next day when I peeled off dry acrylic paint film, it lifted the old oil paint residue on palette beautifully. I tried several times and noticed that the acrylic paint was better to have some thickness. So, to clean up the dirty oil paint residue on color palette, you need acrylic paint. I use Utrecht Artists’ Acrylic Paint. It says heavy body on the tube. I believe any thick acrylic paint will do. Choose the color you barely use and squeeze a lot paint onto palette directly. Then use a palette knife to spread the paint. Make an even layer with some thickness but not too thick. Otherwise it takes forever to dry up. Next, let it dry completely. At last, you can peel of acrylic paint film slowly and enjoy the result.

My palette is glass surface and this method works great. The plastic surface works too. I am not sure about wood. You may expect a few spots of paint residue staying behind. You can either repeat this method again or use a palette knife to clean up the leftover.


Here I have some snapshots during the process. I use black and burn sienna acrylic paint so you can see the color block on the film. But everything else on the paint film is from the dirty palette underneath. Those are old oil paint residue. When peel off the dry acrylic paint film, please be patient and do it gently and slowly. You want it to lift as much residue as possible. Try to maintain the film in one piece.


Now, you can enjoy a fresh looking color palette~! I still have some acrylic paint spots here but the glass surface is clear and reflective.

PS, please ignore the dirty frame. I haven’t cleaned up that part yet. 😀

I hope you find this post helpful.

Thank you.

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My paintings are an outlet to express the imagination I have inside my head that I can not put into words. After trying many mediums, I always find myself coming back to paint and brushes. In my current artistic practice, I use oil paint and mainly create portraits of mythical creatures and animals transfixed in the shifting colours of seascapes and landscapes. There is a natural spirit and magic to these creatures and their energy draws me in. Choosing to paint these creatures as real living wildlife rather than abstractions, I use bold and vivid colours to express the imaginary intertwined with reality, finding magic between the seams. Using a saturated colour palette, I create bold and striking imagery, contrasted between foreground and background, subject and landscape, and light and darkness. Weaving their bodies and the surface of the landscape into each other through organic forms and flowing brush strokes, I find beauty, strength and innocence in these creatures that reflect my inner world.