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Safe Painting Guide

Domestic Paints / Francesco Clemente: Sun, 1980  /  tubes of Water-Miscible Oil Paint /
Roberto Parada: Amy Winehouse / Jackson Pollock's Studio (Namuth)

U+21D3.svg    c o n t e n t                  

I N T R O         T O P I C S        C O N T A C T 

The potential health hazards of paints, binders, thinners, and pigments continue to be underestimated by users. Largely unnoticed by the public, it is still common for professional artists to contract various kinds of diseases, such as asthma, brain disease, and various kinds of cancer, that are often linked to solvent exposures, for instance in graffity artists working with spray paints, or heavy metal poisoning from cadmium use in oil painters.

Jackson Pollock in his studio, © Hans Namuth Estate

There are many health related aspects that are relevant to both areas, and these are discussed in our pages on Pigments, Solvent Toxicity and Safe Solvent Alternatives, Reproduction Risks, and Legal Aspects. Some of the information on solvent hazards and solvent safety is based on toxicological  research and writings originally published by Art Hazard News and the  Health in the Arts Program, University of Illinois at Chicago; additional advice on current research was given by Michael McCann.

The Fine Art Painting Section includes a comprehensive essay by Merle Spandorfer on all the painting media available to artists, including acrylic painting, oil painting, gouache, pigments, mediums, etc., which was first published in Making Art Safely by Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY.

Safe Painting for Art and DIY:         Safety of domestic and DIY paints
                                                                   in Fine Art and Interior Decorating 
                                                                    (e.g. gloss/matt | wall paints | varnishes)

Safe Painting for Artists:       Artist Paints & Studio Art

Safe Painting and Drawing:   Health in The Arts Compendium

Solvents and VOCs:      Health in The Arts Compendium

Painting with Radium:     The Radium Girls

The Art of Roberto Parada: Staying well as a Professional Artist

Safe Oil Painting: Goodby to Turpentine:   Robert Maynord

Oil Painting - nontoxic   Mike Bergen

Spike Lavender Washes and Glazes:    Robert Maynord   

Eco Friendly Paint:      Sarah Houlton, PhD

    Pigments:  all pages

Pigments:      History, Toxicity & Alternatives

Safer Spray Painting and Airbrushing:    An overview

The Chemistry of Acrylics    Polymerization and Hazards

Solvent Toxicity:      Health Hazards and Medical Evidence

   Safe Solvents:      Non-VOC Alternatives

   Colorlab        Maria Boto / sustainable colorings

   Reproduction Risks:      VOCs, Paints, Thinners, and Pregnancy

   Health & Safety     Exposing Ourselves to Art and H&S Compendium

   The 'Green' Art School:      Art schools moving towards safer practices

   Artmaking & The Law:      A Selection of Essays

   Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety:     An advisory and consultancy service

   UIC  Health in The Arts Center:
  A scientific compendium, 
                                                              resource and advisory service

   Instructional Videos:    A selection of relevant YouTube videos

    Starch-based Serigraphy     making ink and binders from starch

Color-field painting, freedom, and Art

article by Friedhard Kiekeben and Willy Richardson 

  Oil Painting Hazards in Classrooms        Michael McCann

  Art School Safety        Michael McCann

'Painted Trees', Chicago Park District, 2011


 ©  2003 - 2023

The information on this website is based on what we - the individual authors - believe to be
current safety-conscious practice. Progress in the field is ongoing, opinions vary,
and new findings emerge frequently.

Please feel free to use the information from this site for your research and practice.

This is not an official safety site: we publish suggestions, research,
and recommendations about good practice and new developments, both by experts
and by informed authors and lay persons. Please let us know if you feel additional information
or a correction needs to be added to a page.

Use our compendiums of links to access formal safety sites and organizations
(such as OSHA, WHO, EPA, or the UIC Health in the Arts Library), and for
other categorized content and listings.

Reprints and reproduction in other publications by agreement. 
Please CONTACT us for details.