studio practice feature

Don’t Dip Your Hog In Your Coffee And Other Studio Rules.

Don’t Eat, Drink or Smoke In The Studio 

We don’t always associate chemistry with art but with the recent spotlight on cadmium and a possible EU ban it might be time for artists both professional and amateur to look into safer painting and art studio practices.

There is a long history of pigment and solvent poisoning among artists.  It is the slow unseen build over time up of harmful substances in the body that causes the most damage.  Van Gogh for one is thought to have suffered with the effects of lead poisoning. We now know more about the effects of toxic substances in art materials and many have since been removed or replaced.  Painting does however remain hazardous with artists at risk for the following reasons.


– Many amateur and professional artists have little or no training into the possible health hazards of the materials they are using.

– Their studio space will often be where they live especially if on a tight budget.

– Those who work with chemicals daily will consistently wear masks, gloves and goggles whereas many artists will eat, drink and smoke in their studios only increasing their exposure.

Now I don’t for one minute believe that at some point you won’t have a cuppa or a beer in the studio having done it myself sandwich in one hand brush in the other!

This aside there are many other ways to improve your studio practice.

Our Top Tips For A Safer Studio & A Safer You.

You desperately need a studio space and are strapped for cash but for the sake of your health and your family’s try to avoid the bedroom or kitchen especially if painting in oils.

If you can avoid using turpentine as it can be easily absorbed through the skin.  Substitute hazardous materials.  Try low odour Sansador or solvent free Zest it.

Keep contact with solvents to a minimum; ideally wear gloves, a complete hindrance I know or try Winsor & Newton’s Artguard.  It will give your skin a protective barrier.

Always wash your hands after each painting session and especially before eating.

Winsor & Newton Artguard will not only form a barrier between your skin and toxic substances but will also moisturise.


Never point a brush in your mouth!  Keep your lunch away from your painting area. You don’t want to accidentally dip your brush in your coffee!

And the same goes for acrylic!  Many believe that acrylic is safer because it is water based and yes it is water based but it does contain plastic which you wouldn’t eat would you?

Solvents can cause dizziness, nausea and tiredness.  Keep lids on and only use as much as you need.

Open the windows especially when using solvents, spray paints, SprayMount and pastel fixatives.  Spray Paints should ideally be used in the open.  For indoor use look at Liquitex Acrylic Spray Paints. Consider putting a fan in the studio to circulate the air.

Wear a mask when dealing with sprays or dry pigments to avoid inhalation.

Hoover up or damp dust to avoid kicking the particles back into the air you breathe.

Don’t Put Solvents Or Paint Down The Sink! They Are Toxic! Think Of The Fish!

Develop a responsible cleaning process.  What goes around comes around.

Clean your palette and brushes by scraping remaining paint with a rag or newspaper and then into a sealed bag or box.

Acrylic painters should then give the brushes a quick rinse in the sink and then rub in a brush cleaner.

Oil painters should suspend the brush in a friendly paint thinner using as little as possible allowing the pigment to settle down to the bottom. Don’t pour out a bucket load!  After pouring the clear top liquid into another container repeat the brush cleaning process.  To condition your brushes use Masters Brush Cleaner or Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner.  You can then dispose of the residue and hopefully reuse any remaining solvent.

Zest it is non toxic, non flammable and solvent free!

Heat + Oxygen + Fuel = Fire

Artist’s oil rags have been known to burst into flames!  Air becomes trapped in a crumpled oil rag and as the solvent dries it produces heat.  If not disposed of correctly the heat, oxygen and fuel do their thing.  It is advised to keep them in an airtight metal container and dispose of them in airtight plastic bags.
Note: Hazardous waste should not normally be disposed of in household and garden waste.  Your local council may collect for a charge or you may be able to take your waste to a council site.

A Tip That’s Kind To The Environment, Saves Money & Earns Karma Points!

One artist’s trash is another artist’s treasure! Give unwanted art supplies to a fellow artist, don’t throw it away or let it sit at the back of a cupboard.

Do you have any studio or painting tips to  offer?

Get great deals on your Art Supplies with Pullingers online.

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