When practicing painting at home, possibly without a dedicated workspace, some basic practices will improve the experience and make it safe.
1. Proper ventilation is essential. Painting in spaces without sufficient air circulation is unsafe. This is especially true if you are working with possibly odourless solvents: they don’t smell, thus you may not notice them, yet they’re still dangerous. Opening windows and/or using a fan might help, but it’s probably worth considering changing to media without solvents. Spray painting should always and only be practiced outside.
2. Beware of good hand hygiene. Always wash your hand immediately after painting, especially before you eat or drink. Be even more vigilant about this when working at home as you don’t want to spread paint all over your (family’s) living space.
3. Paint will get everywhere, it will splatter, it will drip, you will get some on your shoe and you will track it through your space. To avoid – or at least limit – this from happening, cover your workspace with drop cloths, paper, or trash bags (cut them open and spread them out). Consider having a pair of shoes/slippers only for work that you take off whenever you leave your work area. Have tissues and wet wipes around when you need them.
4. Be very careful with how you store oil, solvent, and paint-soaked rags and paper towels. Rather than using paper towels, make yourself rags from old t-shirts; make sure to let them dry thoroughly after use – ideally outside.
5. Keep toxic pigment, mediums, and solvent away from where you prepare food, eat and do dishes. E.g. do not clean your brushes in the kitchen sink. If you don’t have access to a utility sink, use the bathtub/shower faucet. In any case, oil residue will be left behind in the sink, so clean up after yourself immediately. It is far easier, and faster, if you spend a minute to clean up each time you clean your brushes.
6. Clean your brushes. Remember to clean your brushes thoroughly with Murphy’s Oil Soap and/or solvent, drawing as much oil out of your bristles as you initially can. Once that’s done, move to warm water and soap. Consider having a pair of sturdy dish-washing/cleaning gloves for brush washing. Keep a designated studio dish towel – not one you will also use in your kitchen – for the purpose of drying brushes.
Christina Renfer Vogel. Tips for Painting at Home. March 2020.
Naomi Ekperigin. Beginner Oil: Learning to Paint Safely. April 2008.
Unknown. What safety practices should you consider before oil painting at home? August 2015.
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