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Submitted on
April 25, 2013
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Hello folks! I've been meaning to discuss this topic here for a while, but I always forget! Well, this blog's topic is about dunDUNDUUUUN studio safety! Now I know, I know, the majority of you, myself included, don't have a private studio to work out of. Your studio may be you livingroom, bedroom, basement, or garage, but there are definitely precautions to be aware of while you're madly creating art. Note: none of this information is here to scare you or deter you from making whatever art you like, it's simply here to help you develop safe studio practices.So let's get started shall we?

:bulletred:Hazardous Materials
This part is specific to those of you who use traditional materials to make your artwork. The supplies we use today are much MUCH safer than those the old master's used, but there are still chemicals and materials you need to be aware of for your own health and well being (as well as those around you). I'll list the materials by category along with the method to keep yourself and others safe:

Powdered Graphite
Chalk Pastel
Spray Fixitive

Any kind of powdery drawing materials pose a risk of inhalation  The best way to avoid doing so is to work in a ventilated area, and to also vacuum thoroughly after your drawing sessions. If you make a LOT of dust regularly, wearing a heavy duty particle mask (these are pretty cheap) will also protect your lungs. NEVER USE SPRAY FIXITIVE INDOORS UNLESS YOU HAVE A VENTILATED SPRAY BOOTH. 


The biggest thing to remember when you're painting is that your skin is an organ. The next thing to remember is that the next thing affected after your skin is your liver. Although oil paint is less dangerous than it was in the past because of synthetic materials, there are still many hazardous materials to be aware of. Heavy metals are the ones to be most aware of in oil painting. Flake white, for example, contains lead and should never come in contact with your skin. The best way to keep skin contact at a minimum while painting in oil is to wear gloves and an apron. The other thing you should be aware of while using oils is the solvents. The solvents are flammable and also need to be used in well ventilated areas because of fumes. NEVER stack oily painting rags on top of each other to dry, they can spontaneously  combust (I've seen it happen folks, it will freak you out and it's extremely dangerous!) Other types of paint such as watercolors can also be dangerous because of the pigments. Keep in mind: the higher the grade the paint, the purer the pigments and the more dangerous they are for your skin. 

Artisan Crafts and Sculpture

This category has a lot hazardous to be aware of. Particularly with any type of clay materials, be aware of what they are made of. Silica, the basis for most traditional ceramics, is horrendously dangerous for your lungs. A condition called silicosis (for which there is no cure) can develop if precaution to limit and avoid inhalation of dry clay materials is necessary. Enamels and glazes also need close inspection for the presence of heavy metals (chrome, manganese, cadmium, and arsenic). 

Silicone dust (from dry clay and dry clay making materials)

PAY ATTENTION to what ingredients are in glazes. Most glazes are perfectly safe in their dried, hardened states (except for barium) but in their liquid states, they can be highly toxic and should never be handled without gloves or outside of a well ventilated area. Be aware of chemical reactions that occur when heat is applied to materials as well. 

:bulletred:Be kind to your body

Sit up straight! You can probably hear those orders coming from your mother to this day :XD: Posture is vital not only to look nice, but if you spend extended periods of time making artwork your poster is important. If you sit while you work, posture is still something to be aware of. Too often we work hunched over, or too close to whatever we're doing. I developed significant eyestrain from being too close up to my paintings and literally forgetting to blink for minutes at a time (it was not a fun time :XD:) If you stand while you work, be sure to practice good posture and invest in a cushioned mat to absorb the hardness of the floor to protect your feet, knees, and back. If you work on a computer, be careful to make sure that your wrists and shoulders are relaxed because carpal tunnel is a terrible monster. One thing I've been forcing myself to do is when I'm drawing to keep 12 inches of distance between my face and the paper. It keeps my eyes from having to focus so hard and also keeps my back and shoulders relaxed. 

If you have to do any kind of lifting, be extremely careful to lift with your legs, not your back (this means squatting instead of bending over to pick up something heavy...the muscles in your legs are more powerful) I made the mistake of ignoring those rules just one time and herniated a disc lifting a bag of clay materials. Trust me guys, it's not worth hurting yourself to get something done quickly, it took several months for that injury to heal :XD:


As a rule of thumb, don't eat and work at the same time. Yes, yes, I know, it can be hectic at times and multitasking is an important skill, but if you're much less likely to eat paint while folding in a sandwich if you separate both tasks. Never prepare food in your workspace either. If you're working from home, keep the art out of the kitchen. Need lots of water? You've got a sink in the bathroom, right? Extra awesome if you've got a tub too. Second, drink from cups with lids or from bottles with lids. A.) You're less likely to spill, and B.) you're MUCH less likely going to accidentally take a sip of your painting water or dip a brush into your tea. 
2011 ID by toerning

:bulletred:Kids & Pets

It goes without saying that if you're working with a hazardous material, you should probably try to limit the exposure kids and or pets could have to them. My kitty cat Princess was an enormous admirer of my paintings, so much that she enjoyed sitting on them. 
253592 10150211870007169 5126759 N by Xadrea
Those of you with cats can probably understand the "if i fits, i sits" mentality of our feline friends. And bless her little furry soul, she would try every chance she could to drink out of my watercolor pans!:shakefist: 
Being careful to put things away when you're not using them, and hanging paintings to dry out of the reach of little hands will save you from stress migraines :XD:. If the wee ones belong to you, treat your studio like you would any other potentially dangerous part of the house and childproof to your heart's content. 

Be safe while you create!:heart:Xadrea

Studio safety begins with good habits!
Add a Comment:
BlackHoleInAJar Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
YES. People forget to pay attention, forget how hot things get or how sharp their tools are and the next thing you know, you're bleeding on your now melted carpet.:XD:

Experimentation can cause problems too, especially things involving heat.
Xadrea Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
When I first discovered alcohol glazing I got really excited and started flinging beads of 99% isopropyl alcohol at my canvas and of course, an enormous drop landed in my eye XD I've been fairly lucky with heat though, I only had a few experiences with blowtorches for a metal smithing class and I was really careful cuz I was scared :XD: 
BlackHoleInAJar Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2013  Professional General Artist
Ooh, dang! That's gotta sting!

Me, it's been blades. Minor nicks and pokes are unavoidable, but I've gotten myself slashed good a couple times. NEVER EVER, EVER CUT TOWARDS YOU OR YOUR HANDS. EVER.
Also wires, you can get cut up pretty good with cut wire.

One other thing I've worked with is resins and casting materials. The casting stuff (silicone) isn't dangerous, unless you did something stupid and ate some (it does look like some sort of marshmallow filling), but contact exposure to any sort of reacting chemicals is best to be avoided, period.
Also, the catalyst for some clear cast resins is extremely toxic! The stuff can bleed through your skin and into your bloodstream and cause liver failure. Not fun. No project is worth melting your liver.:roll:
Xadrea Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
I wear latex gloves when I'm working with resins for that reason :XD: I wear gloves while oil painting too and using oil based printmaking inks. An ounce of prevention is always good ;)
VoicelessGerbil Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
One time i was using turpentine to thin oil paints and had an open container in my room while i was working, in the middle of a hot summer day with the window opened a crack. I had the weirdest headache, it felt like my eyes were throbbing

Live and learn! Until something eventually kills me XD
Xadrea Featured By Owner May 8, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
:lol: yes, definitely don't do that again!
memyone Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Hmmm..should have read this sooner. Accidentally stuck my brush into my tea cup two days ago, and then stared at it for a good minute before my mind registered what I did. Luckily, the tea was pretty cold by the time I did that, and I was almost done with it before I'd cleaned my brush using Barley Tea. xDD
Xadrea Featured By Owner May 1, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
:XD: Be super careful in the future!
Harrisons-Forge Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2013  Professional General Artist
Unless you are working in a dedicated studio..a dust sheet to catch paint splatters is a must ;)
Xadrea Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
The carpet in my apartment can attest to that :XD:
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