Friday Quick Tip: Easy Clean Up

Here's a really quick tip for this Friday; one that will help you clean up faster and gain more time for painting. I love the cheap, white plastic palettes that are available in different sizes and configurations from just about every hobby store around. Being white they provide good color representation, have plenty of places to store mixed colors for blending, cost next to nothing and have a nice center space I use either for bits during model assembly or paint garbage like clumps from old paint or basing rocks that were brushed off.

The one thing I don't love about them is cleaning up. Normally I'd spend a few minutes at the sink, with the palette under running water peeling the little colors off, or scraping them with my thumbnail. With Earth Day next Wednesday, I was inspired to find a way to clean it that didn't use a bunch of water running down the drain.

The solution is gloss medium. When I built my Black Templar army, I purchased a bottle of Liquitex Gloss Medium
for the wet mud "look". After basing about 60 models and painting a whole display board I've got more than three-quarters left of the 8 ounce bottle. I'm never going to use this much gloss, but it turns out the medium is an excellent and easy way to remove paint from those white plastic palettes.

Once all the paint is dry on the palette, just glob on a thick coat of medium and let it dry completely. (Sometimes really dirty palettes require two coats.) Once dry, it is easy to grab an edge and peel the medium off and, when you do, the existing paint on the palette is magically removed.

After a little peeling, you'll have a big glob of acrylic paint and a palette that looks brand new!

I usually use a clean cloth to wipe off any flecks I've missed and it is good to go. This doesn't work well if you have a lot of dried gouache on your palette and white glue will also be a problem, but if you have kids you might even be able to get them to do all the dirty work. My 4 year-old loves to help by peeling the paint all off; maybe I should show him how to paint on the gloss medium on and save myself some time.

What tips do you have for clean up or other those other non-hobby tasks that just need to be done to keep the painting machine running smoothly?