Artists, stay safe!

A jar of various paint brushes, grey background and fine black expressive lines. Digital art by Elma Schumacher.
Digital art by Elma Schumacher

This week I went back to the studio in town to paint for the first time in months. It’s a big bright airy room that I use when I want to paint on canvas with acrylic paint. I like to use mediums to change the surface qualities and/or create textures and have enjoyed exploring the medium in that way.

But the days where I splash on thick layers of paint are soon coming to an end. I am using up the last of my canvases and paint and won’t be working with that medium in that way any more.

I may still use acrylic paint for other projects, in limited quantities, perhaps using the paint in washes so it works more like water colours, or use it to colour a small piece or sculpture. I will let thicker layers of paint dry outside or in a room I can close up and stay away from at least for a day. Windows will be open if at all possible. The room will be aired out once the piece is dry, even in winter.

It may sound like excessive caution, but at least one artist that I know of has died due to exposure to the acrylic paint he used in his artwork for years. I also know that my body doesn’t like the fumes coming off my drying paintings. It’s mild headaches and a kind of fuzzy fatigue after every session and it is clearly time to stop. The solvents in oil paints may be worse, but acrylic paint should be used with caution as well.

There are endless instructional videos out there showing endless techniques with all types of paint. And so few reminders to stay safe while painting.

When working with oil paint in particular and even acrylic paints, make sure you have good ventilation, work outside or open windows if you can and please, please don’t ever shape the point of your watercolour brush in your mouth. Paint pigments are not and have never been safe to consume. Repeated exposure of even small amounts may cause cancer.

The information about the materials used to create artwork is out there. It might take a little digging, but make the effort to find out what precautions you should be taking. Stay safe.

For information about safely in the studio, a link from Princeton University;





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