Oil painters – protecting yourself and your environment
As an oil painter who uses solvents and glazes, I am often asked about the best ways to guard my health without sacrificing technique. Admittedly, it is a balancing act that I have not yet perfected, as experimental techniques can be more alluring than following procedure.
Other than the obvious (wear a proper respirator and ensure good ventilation), I am always looking for ways to make my art studio more environmentally (and Sarah) friendly.
Some paints can be acutely toxic, like Cadmium Reds, Oranges and Yellows. Some can be ethically problematic, such as the several types of black paint made from charred animal bones. Here’s a helpful chart of the terrible, terrible ingredients in some types of paint, and their safer, friendlier alternatives.
Art Studio Toxicity
- Environmental Defence Canada: Healthy Artist Guide to a Less Toxic Studio. Developed by Environmental Defence Canada in partnership with CARFAC Ontario for the Toxic Nation project: Healthy Artist Guide to a Less Toxic Studio (pdf)
Safer and more eco-friendly ideas
- Artists’ Oil Paint and Supplies: Eco-House Inc. (Canada) www.eco-house.com
- Ecos Organic Paints (UK): No pesticides, herbicides & toxins. Not fine art paint, but I’m no snob. www.ecospaints.com
- Walnut oil is an alternative to linseed oil, and it resists yellowing better.
- Swap or share your surplus art supplies rather than disposing of them. I have yet to meet another artist who would say no to free paint…
- Talk to the local fire department when you need to dispose of hazardous waste.
Oh, one more thing – never bring food and/or drinks into the studio, as they absorb airborne contaminants. Also, I count myself among the guilty, having reached distractedly for the wrong drink more than once.