Recycling Oil Paint

Happy Earth Day! Today I’d like to share some tips on how I keep my oil painting practice “green.” My primary concerns are safety (to both my body and the environment) and recycling (reusing and repurposing).

For 13 years I’ve been experimenting with different mediums, varnishes, paints, etc. trying to find the right combination that works for me. I encourage you to experiment to find what works for you, but am happy to provide this shortcut: Gamblin all the way.

Now, I’m not paid to represent the company in any way, shape or form. This recommendation is based on my personal experience using their products. I also value the transparency (you know exactly what is in the materials) and their website as an educational resource for oil painters. Is your paint made from heavy metals? That’s really important to know! Gamblin answers those kinds of questions on their studio safety page, so I will not be going into that kind of detail here.

What I would like to share with you, is the technique I’ve been using to recycle oil paint.


When the paint finally settles in the cleaning jar, the Gamsol can be poured off and reused to clean brushes.  What’s left at the bottom is muddy, neutral slops of color.

This makes a great color for a grisaille underpainting and really helps cover a lot of space quickly. It’s saved me a fortune on the cost of paint, too!


I did add white, indigo, and red to the muddy slop to boost the contrast in value and color. I like to think of this first layer as a compositional map, connecting the light patterns with the dynamic forms of the figures and making adjustments as needed.

This painting is 48×72″ and is the second panel of a triptych inspired by Ancient Greece.

If you want to see how this painting turns out… follow Brooke Paints on Instagram or Facebook or see the final paintings posted on my website.

May you discover new ways to recycle in your own art studio. Please feel free to post ideas in the comment section so we can all have a happy earth day, every day!




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