The oil painter’s guide to protecting yourself and the environment

Awareness of health and safety practices may not alwaysbe an artist’s priority, but protecting yourself and the environment is critical.

Today, we are more aware of hazardous substances: the use of the most dangerous substances is either greatly reduced or eliminated entirely. But artists still use toxic materials and have little exposure to the inspections and procedures that draw other businesses to the attention of the dangers involved. Below is an overview of what you should do to protect yourself, others and the environment.

While at work in the studio

  • Avoid eating, drinking and smoking in the workplace as you are at risk of ingesting toxic substances.
  • Avoid excessive skin contact with materials, especially solvents.
  • Do not allow solvents to evaporate. When inhaled they can cause dizziness, nausea and worse. Only use the smallest amount necessary for the job in hand.
  • Always allow good ventilation of the studio, for the reasons above.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Wear an approved mask when dealing with dry pigments to avoid inhalation.
  • Oily rags should be kept in an airtight metal container.

Clean-up and disposal

It is very important that nothing falls out of the sink. Solvents and heavy metals are toxic and must be handled responsibly. Have a good cleanup and disposal system that is as ethically responsible as possible.

  • Palette cleaning Clean up by scraping the palette onto newspaper, then dispose of it in an airtight bag..
  • Brush cleaning Use a rag or newspaper to wipe off any excess paint from the brush. Soak the brush (suspended in the jar to avoid breaking the fibers) in a suitable paint thinner – preferably a low odor solvent such as Winsor & Newton Sansodor. Over time, the pigment will settle at the bottom. Pour off excess thinner to use again. Dispose of residues as responsibly as possible. You can clean your brushes with products like Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner.
  • Oil rags The rag is a key element in any oil painter’s practice. When the oil dries on the rag, it generates heat and air gets trapped in the folds. Rags are usually made from combustible cloths that can be a source of fuel. Heat, oxygen, and fuel are all needed to start a fire, which is why oil-based rags can spontaneously catch fire if not handled properly. Oil-based wipes should be kept in an airtight metal container and then transferred to an airtight plastic bag for disposal.
  • Disposal of hazardous waste Paints and solvents, and rags soaked in them, constitute hazardous waste. It should generally not be disposed of as mixed municipal waste, such as household and garden waste. In some cases, your local council may collect rubbish from you, but a fee may apply. Alternatively, you can send it to a home recycling or municipal facility site for free. Your local council will be able to advise you on all types of hazardous waste in your area..

Post time: Jan-11-2022