Tuesday, June 16, 2009

5 Ways to Avoid Toxicity When Using and Buying Art Materials

Lightfall IV 40 x 18" oil on linen
© 2006 Katherine Kean

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately and came to the forefront again with my recent solvent concerns during the direct heat termite treatment. I have gradually stopped using some of the most dangerous substances, like turpentine. Here are some more things that I do to avoid exposure:

1. Use gloves

2. Don’t keep any open containers. I mix my mediums with any thinner in a squirt bottle that stays capped when not being used.

3. Gamsol instead of OMS. More expensive yes, but has a higher flashpoint and lower evaporation rate which means there are a lot fewer fumes in the air to breathe in.

4. All leftover solvents, mediums, and brush cleaners are taken to the hazardous material disposal facility. Nothing goes down the drain to end up in the ocean or fresh groundwater through the sewer system or by seeping through the soil.

5. Any leftover paint is allowed to dry before disposal, also to prevent contaminating water supplies through seepage. Oil paint is expensive so I don’t allow much waste. I put out tiny amounts on the palette. If there is any left when I am done painting I mix it all together to get a good gray to paint the edges with.

In addition certain manufacturing companies are known to handle materials responsibly. Among them are Gamblin and M. Graham.

Here is an article with more safety tips for artists.

Here is Gamblin on Studio Safety and Solvents.

Related Posts:

If You Took All the Pigments...

Brush Cleaning With Safflower Oil


Jean Spitzer said...

Beautiful painting. And thanks for posting on this topic; I've been thinking about it a lot. One reason I really appreciate your method of using safflower oil to clean brushes is that it avoids washing paint down the sink.

Katherine Kean said...

Thanks Jean - I appreciate that aspect as well.

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