Mona Lisa’s Dirty Little Secret

Every now and then I’m faced with the unpleasant task of cleaning out my Mona Lisa brush cleaning tank.  When painting with oils, you have to clean your brushes with turpentine.  When you rinse your brush in the cleaning tank, the oil sinks to the bottom.  The cleaning tank has a cool little cage near the bottom.

This cage allows the oil to sink to the bottom, but prevents the oil from being stirred up every time I rinse my brush.  It’s genius, really!

When the turpentine starts to get cloudy, and the oil buildup starts to accumulate, I have to clean the tank.  I find that my colors often get murky when I paint with “dirty” turpentine.

I pour the turpentine in to a large jar to be reused. The oil that’s left in the turpentine sinks to the bottom, and I can use the turpentine again.

Next I remove the cage and dump out the oil residue. Now I’m warning you, the next picture is not for the faint of heart.

Cleaning the tank with water won’t do much to get the oil off.  I find that it’s usually enough to just take  paper towel and thoroughly wipe out the inside of the tank.  I use an old toothbrush to get the oil residue off of the cage.

When that’s all done, I place the cage back inside the tank, and refill the tank with new turpentine.

And I’m ready to go!


About Melody

My name is Melody Martin. Check out my art blog, and learn all about the steps and techniques that go into oil paintings.
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3 Responses to Mona Lisa’s Dirty Little Secret

  1. Easten says:

    That sounds just like what Micah is doing in the lab these days- chemicals, extractions…

  2. Melody says:

    yeah, i could probably do his job no problem! haha

  3. arrynvogan says:

    I hated doing that, but it was always worth it and I was always glad to have it done. It made want to keep on painting!

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