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Tips for Healthy Oil Painting

Utrecht

Oil painting has a long history of innovation, with constant introduction of new materials and processes that broaden expressive possibilities, change the basic properties of the paint and mediums, and make the colors behave in new and interesting ways. Most of the original ingredients are still available (generally in a much higher-quality form than historic painters would have used); many other materials developed by modern colloid and polymer chemistry can be used along with or in place of older ingredients. The sheer breadth of what constitutes oil mediums means that oil painters have a large number of materials to consider when discussing safe, healthy studio habits.

The influence of urban legend and bad information have caused some to leap to the conclusion that oil painting is somehow riskier than other processes. Some art schools have even contemplated avoiding oils altogether. Yet, most of the problems people attribute to oil painting are more specifically the result of failure to read and follow package documentation, introduction of substandard, non-artist’s-grade substances into the process, or because of carelessness- since the supplies are so familiar, handling becomes casual. The same failure to use the best, current information and proper care would lead to similar problems with materials other than oils.

Because of industry-wide complete disclosure of the contents of materials, mandatory health labeling and the availability of good reference material in books and on the web, art materials in general can be used safely by practically any artist, and oil painting can be a pleasant pastime or an absorbing vocation for anyone willing to adopt a few simple, commonsense habits.

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