I have a bunch of oil paint tubes that I got as a gift a while back.

I really want to try them out but I don't want to use any solvents, thinners, nor have any loose materials that need to be disposed/cleaned in some special way.

Is there a way to do this?

  • 1
    Use paper towels, disposable pallets and disposable brushes? Painting without thinners/solvents is going to be rather limiting, but it can be done. Jul 7, 2018 at 20:58

3 Answers 3


You do not have to make any mess. Just organize everything following few simple rules:

  1. After you use a certain color, always close the tube. This will make the color inside of your tube clean, it will not start dripping and if something gets in contact with it, it will not get dirty.

  2. Place color tubes horizontally, next to each other. That way, they will not interact with each other's tube. In a case there is some color left on a tube, other tubes won't get dirty. Place them on a paper towel which you can easily throw away later.

  3. If you are afraid of getting your clothes messy, use a lab coat - many painters do this. You can also use some clothes you do not plan on wearing. Keep in mind that oil color can be cleaned if it gets on your clothes but it is better to prevent that from happening.

  4. As mentioned above, you can use painting knifes instead of brushes. They are really, really easy to clean. All you have to do is wipe them. Just be careful when you press it with paper (or whatever material you will be cleaning them with) - they can be a little sharp sometimes.

  5. Keep in mind, more color you add, longer it will take to dry. After you are finished with your painting, place it somewhere safe. It will not be dry, so if it falls down, it will get surface dirty and even worse - painting might get dirty. If somebody touches it, they might get dirty or remove some paint which will require you to fix it.

  6. I am not using any of the above except the first one. If anything gets messy, then those are my hands but I am fine with it. If you are afraid of getting your hands dirty, you can use surgical gloves. I think that is how they are called. They can be bought at any pharmacy.

Have fun.


You can use a palette knife (or bend a butter knife’s blade by 45 degrees) to apply the paint to a wooden board. Squeeze out some paint on the surface, mix the colors with the knife and try some impasto painting. Use toilet paper to clean off the palette knife and dispose in the trash. If you get any paint on your skin, wash it off with warm soapy water.

But be prepared to wait at least several weeks for the paint to really dry.

  • is palette knife that easy to clean though i heard it requires thinners. also I've tried painting with oil before from tube directly on board to make a black canvas, and i don't really expect oil paint to ever dry anymore, i think of it more like intruder paint that always at best smudges.
    – Dmytro
    Jul 7, 2018 at 23:02
  • No, I always clean my palette knife with a rag. You don’t need thinner. And oil paint will dry, it just takes a while. Jul 7, 2018 at 23:07

You don't need thinners to paint with oil. You can use linseed oil to make the paint more loose if you find it to be too thick. (This will slow down the drying a bit, but not that much.)

For cleaning your materials (brushes, pallete, etc.) you can use cooking oil to loose the paint, wipe as much of the oil off as you can with tissue paper, and then wash the materials with hot water and soap. Keep in mind that this doesn't work once you've let the paint dry.

A piece of glass (with white paper underneath) works great as a pallete and is very easy to clean (the way mentioned above).

Not making a mess is a completely separate matter, though. It depends how you personally go about using the paint (some people are just very messy, others are not). If you are worried about the paint going everywhere, just tape some newspaper around the place where you'd be working.

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