what they don’t teach you in school : or a quick guide to decoding labels on artist materials.

(I’m not an expert by any means, just an oil paint lover growing concerned with her health and has done some internet research.)

—Products that have the ‘AP’ in a circle from the ACMI, Art and Creative Materials Institute, means that they have been tested by toxicologist and medical experts and that they are Non-Toxic.

—Products with the ‘CL’ in a circle from the ACMI, Art and Creative Materials Institute, means that they have been tested by toxicologist and medical experts and that they do contain toxins, but if used appropriately, are ok.

—Products that say ‘Conforms to ASTM D 4236’ means that the United States has tested the product for its toxicity, and is required to add a ‘caution’ or ‘warning’ label such as: ‘This product contains cadmium, a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer by means of inhalation.’ Or  ‘No health label required.’

—‘Known to the state of California to cause cancer or birth defects,’ Is because of Proposition 65, which makes it a law to place a label on anything that contains a chemical that has been tested and proven to cause cancer and birth defects.

The good news is that a few alternatives products don’t have these labels. I have used Turpenoid, or the Mona Lisa Odorless Paint thinner to clean my brushes, which has the brain and nerve damage label. But there is a non-toxic kind called Turpenoid Natural, more expensive, but way safer.

I mix Liquin Mediom into my paints, it has the CL, and I’ve read that Walnut Alkyd Medium is a comparable product without the CL stamp.

The catch is sometimes there are products that have the ‘Conforms to ASTM D 4236’ and ‘No health label required’ … so how come they don’t have an ACMI stamp? I’m trying to find out, and will post again if I do.

Another tip- appropriate ventilation requires 2 fans in your work area. One to suck the bad air out and shoot it outside, and the other to pull in fresh air into the work area.

Like I said, I’m not an expert so do your own research and if you learn anything more or different that what I’ve posted here please let me know!

Happy painting!

 http://www.dickblick.com/products/weber-turpenoid-natural/

http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/background/p65plain.html

http://www.dickblick.com/healthsafety/#labeling

http://www.acminet.org/

http://www.astm.org/Standards/D4236.htm

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3 thoughts on “what they don’t teach you in school : or a quick guide to decoding labels on artist materials.

  1. Here’s something I learned in a little throw away painting class I took last year. There is no need to clean your brushes in harsh solvents like paint thinner if you’re working with oil paint. Instead, fill your thinner jar with vegetable oil.

    The oil takes the paint off the brush much better, and doesn’t eat the bristles down to nubs like the solvents do. It works best if you can put some kind of screen in the bottom of the jar to rub your brush against. The oil will get cloudy as you clean things, but just allow it to settle out. You can use the same oil for months. After you clean a brush, make use you wipe the oil off on a towel so it doesn’t get into your paint. Vegetable oil is not stable enough to act as a medium.

    I still use thinner mixed with things as a medium to thin the paints, but I never use it to clean brushes anymore. Wish they could have taught me that when I was paying through the nose per credit hour.

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