No paper towels, or better paper towels?

As part of my effort to go green, I’ve been planning to try to eliminate paper towels. Right now I use shop towels that come from Lowes in a box. I don’t use a tun of them – maybe an average of one per painting. But that doesn’t seem so green.

So far I’ve tried

  • scraping my brush with the palette knife before wiping it. That’s great, and I plan to continue.
  • wiping my brush on scrap cardboard after the palette knife and before wiping it. This is going to get some upgrades.
  • using cut up old t-shirt instead of paper towels. This works best with thick fabric with low lint levels. Thin fabric is no good. I’m going to try more fabrics to try to get the best one.

After trying all that, I’m finding that going totally towel free will take more planning and work, although I do think it’s doable. I’m starting to research paper towels that I feel better about using – ones made from recycled material or bamboo or cotton, for plein air trips… Suggestions welcome!

Healthy studio update – hiding my stool

Today’s improvement was standing up.  

I started the sitting lifestyle when I got a job at Microsoft over 20 years ago. And then 15 years ago when I started this painting career, I kept on sitting for some reason… and so everything is set up for me to sit and changing it seemed like too much effort for some reason.

But right now I’m getting healthy in the studio. So I took my stool, moved it away from my easel, and put some stuff on it. The first couple days of standing felt pretty weird. I paint barefoot and my feet got tired the first day, so the second day I wore my sneakers. Today I’ll stand again, and I’ll be halfway to making a new habbit.

Already I feel better!

Spontanious Combustion? Really?

learn to paint with jessie

2023 is my year of getting green and healthy in the studio, and what is less green and healthy than a fire hazard?

An artist just asked an important question in a workshop, and I thought it was important enough to share with you. 

“Can painting rags spontaneously catch fire?”

Unfortunately, yes, if the rags are not handled properly. 

This seems like such an important issue that I wanted to raise awareness so other artists can start looking for advice for experts! (I am not giving advice here, I’m trying to point you towards the experts who can.)

I spent a couple years in art school and have taken a dozen painting workshops and it’s honestly never come up… So I’m learning right now with you.

So please don’t take anything I say here as advice. Instead, I’m trying to raise awareness, and point you towards the experts on this topic. 

Here’s some information from a couple paint companies

“As the oil is drying on the rag it produces heat, and air gets trapped in the folds. The rag is usually made of a combustible cloth that can become a source of fuel. Heat, oxygen and fuel are all that is needed to create a fire, which is why oily rags, when not disposed of properly, can spontaneously burst into flames. Oily rags should be kept in an airtight metal container, and then transferred into an airtight sealed plastic bag for disposal.”  – Winsor Newton

“Please note that oil-soaked rags should be – at a minimum – properly stored in an Oily Rag Safety Can (such as those offered by JustRite) until they can be thrown out. Even better, soak rags in water, and place them in an old jar or similar container and dispose of them outside in your household trashcan or apartment building dumpster.” – Gamblin

Here’s a conversation about this topic on

And here’s some woodworkers talking about the same thing. 

Here are a couple other resources I found. If you find a good resource for information about this topic, please comment below and share the knowledge!

Please be safe!