How to Keep your Artistic Workspace Clean and Sacred

abstract painting inspiration Dec 13, 2022

Creating a sacred space to paint and create in is part of the artistic process, have you paused to think about it?

For many of us, we may not have the luxury of a separate studio or even a small spot in a garage. I know lots of people resort to painting in bedrooms or kitchen tables for example. As artists it is something we all struggle with. So I would like to offer you an idea to ponder, before I get into the physical space aspects.

Our art is a reflection of what we are experiencing on the inside.

So let’s approach the idea of this space to create from the inside as well. Sure, we need a corner to create. But we also need to carve out that corner in our minds. Take a moment to be still, to breathe. Turn on your favorite music that inspires you. Allow yourself a moment to believe, “I have all the time the world to make this beautiful”- whatever it is you are about to create- even if its just a scribble. Let’s create a sacred space from the inside out..and then deal with the logistics of the physical space, or the constraints of the physical space afterwards.

The Safety of Your Physical Art Space

The physical space we paint in is an important factor to consider and I want to at least bring to your attention the need to consider a few safety considerations.

We all have different levels of comfort when handling materials and their inherent risks.

Loads of painters over the years have been able to paint safely, so this is not meant to alarm you! But I do want you to simply give some thought about keeping your work space and your physical self safe. The main idea is that you simply don’t want to ingest the paint, either through your skin or through your lungs.

Oil paints and acrylics have different levels of toxicity due to the fact that oil paints are mixed with a solvent, and acrylics are based in water. That being said- different colors in either paint are more or less toxic depending on their exact composition. For example, cobalt blue and cadmium red are more toxic than Prussian blue or transparent orange.

As a general rule of thumb, I make sure there is adequate ventilation in my work space (a cross breeze from windows or an air purifier) and I wear gloves religiously.

In addition:

  1. Do not use the same containers for paints that you do for food or drink.
  2. Do not put paint brushes in your mouth!
  3. Wash hands thoroughly after each painting session.
  4. Wear latex gloves
  5. Wear a dust mask if you handle pigment powders. Make sure it’s the right one and keep it clean! I personally avoid powdered pigments because I just don’t want the inherent danger.
  6. Do not have food in your studio

How to clean up paint after painting

Often I am asked how to clean up paints after a painting session.

For acrylics I use soap and water. I catch the paint remnants in a coffee filter or bury them in a small gravel pit in the yard.

For oil paints my method is as follows:

I either use mineral oil and some elbow grease, or I use citrasolve to clean all materials and surfaces. If I am using solvents for reductive techniques I am particularly careful as rags soaked in cold wax or solvents could spontaneously combust in the rare occurrence and given the right conditions. So I am mindful NOT to throw these rags in a hot trash can. Instead, I store used rags or paper towels in a glass container with some water, and dispose of them in batches, where my county accepts paints and toxic materials.

Let me know in the comments below what techniques you apply to keep your artistic workspace clean and sacred to you. 

If you’re interested in learning more about painting techniques or are new to painting and looking for an instructor and class to jump right into, feel free to check out my online art courses at this link.

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