Painting & Drawing - Safe Work Practice Manual


In addition to reading this SWP Manual, students are also required to read and acknowledge a studio-specific Hazard Assessment

Please Note: This SWP manual is not intended to provide detailed instruction of processes and techniques.  It is not a substitute for attending technical demonstrations and taking notes. 



  • Regularly review the Safe Work Practices Manual for each area you are working in- this is an important resource.

  • In addition to reading the SWP Manual, students are required to read and acknowledge studio-specific Hazard Assessments and, if applicable, attend studio demonstrations. 

  • Know the material you are working with and read the SDS labels and information sheets to ascertain the proper safety precautions you should take.  

  • Wear the appropriate Personal Protection Equipment when working in the workshops. For example, you may need to wear a respirator and work in a ventilated environment based on the information provided with this material. 

  • All materials, supplies, and works in progress must be stored appropriately with the understanding that W840 supports all studio programs. 

  • If you are unsure about which tool to use or how to use it consult the safe work practice manual, a Technician, and your Instructor before starting. 

  • All placement of art outside the 8th floor must be approved by OH&S through the completion of the Art Placement Form. This form is on the OH&S website of the university and must be completed five days prior to the installation of your work. 

  • Wear personal listening devices in all Studio Classrooms when working after class hours as other students may need the quiet to concentrate. You may be asked by your instructor not to use any personal listening devices during class hours. If this is the case, please follow the directions given you. 

  • Be aware of the impact of your work on the work of others in your studio classroom. 

  • Doors to studios must be kept closed- do not prop open. Do not give away the code to studio doors. 

  • All containers must be labeled, do not use food or drink containers for any controlled substances such as paint thinner, glue, patina solutions, etc.


  • Do not block fire exits and fire-fighting equipment.  

  • Keep aisles, walkways and stairs clear.  

  • Store materials in designated storage areas or in your locker or studio space. 

  • A clear uncluttered passageway must be maintained in storage areas; do not leave anything sticking out beyond the front edge of racks and shelving. 

  • Remove projects immediately after they have been graded to open up space to make more work. 

  • All storage must be cleaned out at the end of each term. Look for signs and heed your instructor’s directions about portfolio pick-up at end of term.  All articles left behind will be removed and thrown out. 

  • Wash charcoal dust and paint off table tops at the end of each work period as studios are shared spaces. 

  • Keep your studio facilities and classrooms clean and tidy.  

  • Respect your work and the work of others. 

  • Be aware of the impact of your work on the work of others in the workshops. 

  • Keep all disposal bins tidy with no projecting articles. 

  • Clean up spills immediately in order to avoid a slipping hazard. 

  • Clean and put away all tools and materials when job is done, and at the end of each workday. 

  • Wear the appropriate Personal Protection Equipment when working in Art Studios and Workshops. 

  • Sweep floors, equipment, counters, and tables after completion of tasks and at the end of every workday. 

  • Avoid causing trip hazards with extension cords and air hoses.

Each person in the School of Fine Arts is responsible and accountable for his/her own safety performance. It is important that each person understand that he/she is also expected to work in a manner that will not cause harm to any other person within the University community. Art materials can affect the body in various ways. There are three major routes of entry: inhalation, ingestion and skin contact. 

  1. Inhalation: The most common ways that foreign substances enter the body are from vapors, fumes, dust, gases or mists that can be inhaled into the respiratory system. The substances may damage the nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract, lungs or be absorbed into the bloodstream and travel to other organs in the body.
  2. Ingestion: Substances may be accidentally or willingly ingested through the contamination of food, drinks, cigarettes and hands. These substances may affect the mouth, throat and/or stomach or be absorbed into the bloodstream. 
  3. Skin Contact: Substances may attack or destroy the natural protective barriers of the skin, damaging the skin itself, and enabling toxic chemicals to enter the bloodstream, where they are carried to various organs of the body.

It is imperative that eating and/or drinking do not occur in any work area.

All students are required to participate in the Safe Work Practices. This includes participation in training and instructional workshops, reading the information sheets that accompany the training sessions, and signing off on their understanding of the information before beginning work in the studio facilities.

Once training requirements have been met Students have access to and are allowed to work in their Studio Classroom any time the University is open, as long as safety and working alone policies are followed (see page 9: Working Alone Policy).  

Students with training are permitted to work in the Sculpture Facilities (W840) according to the schedule which corresponds to the hours when Technicians are on duty. This schedule is posted on the Workshop doors.

It is the responsibility of every person in the area to be aware of his or her surroundings, which in turn will create a safe working environment. Particular attention should be paid to the following: 

  1. Telephone: located inside the studio at the exit. Emergency numbers are posted on each telephone.
  2. First Aid Kits: located in each area and are clearly marked. These are for emergency first aid procedures only. Do not use supplies for any other use.
  3. Eye Wash Stations: located in each area and are clearly marked. Eye wash stations are tested weekly, by the department Safety Representative.
  4. Fire Extinguishers: located in every working area.
  5. Safety Data Sheet binders: located in studios where the Department supplies controlled products to support instruction (see below)

The following materials and substances cannot be used in student projects: ammunition or explosives, flammable liquids, biohazardous material or waste. 

WHMIS information sheets and proper labeling according to WHMIS regulations must accompany all controlled products.  WHMIS training is provided by OH&S, as a student you must complete the WHMIS Online Training Course offered through OH&S on Moodle.  

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are provided in all studios for all controlled products supplied by the Department to support instruction.

Controlled products for your personal use must also have appropriate WHMIS labels and accompanying SDS information sheets. 

  • All containers must be labeled (including harmless items like distilled water). The label should contain the proper name of the material (i.e. Turpenoid, Varsol) and the name of the user if appropriate, a statement of hazards should also be listed. 

  • Do not use material from unlabeled containers. The need for adequate labeling extends far beyond the immediate individual user, as they may not be present if the container spills or breaks.  

  • It is important that no unidentified materials are left in unlabeled containers, jars, or bottles. Proper labeling is important since it is difficult and costly to dispose of unlabeled chemicals. 

Each individual has the responsibility for seeing that waste chemicals are safely collected, identified and stored for disposal, and that anyone involved is fully advised of the need for any special methods or facilities for proper disposal.  

Handling of Waste

Chemicals are everywhere: they can be found in animals, plants and water as well as in many commercially available products including medicines, detergents, paints, and foods. The risk may be low, but present. In order to keep the risk to a minimum, all chemical waste must be disposed of properly. Once a material is declared a waste, the first responsibility for guiding its proper disposal rests with the worker. He or she is in the best position to know the degree of hazard posed by the material they have used and must provide sufficient information to fit it into the correct channel for disposal. 

Some Acids and Bases:

The following acids and bases have been approved for drain disposal while flushing drain with water, if the pH range is between 3 and 11 (prior to draining).  

Sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide. 

Any chemical which qualifies as a hazardous waste must be collected for proper disposal through OH&S.  A waste may be designated as a hazardous waste if it meets one of the following criteria:

  1. Acute hazardous waste is a waste which has been found to be fatal in humans in low doses or, in the absence of data on humans, has been found to have, in laboratory animals:
    • An oral LD50 (Lethal Dose of 50% of the test subjects) of less than 50 mg/kg.
    • An inhalation LC50 (Lethal Concentration) of less than 2 mg/l, or
    • A dermal LD50 of less than 200 mg/kg.
  2. A waste is hazardous if it contains any of the toxic constituents listed in the regulations.
  3. A waste is hazardous if it exhibits any of the following characteristics:
    • Ignitability
    • Corrosivity
    • Reactivity
    • Toxicity*
    • Sharpness
  4. Each Studio generating chemical waste in the Department has a designated location within the room for waste accumulation.
  5. Hazardous Waste Disposal containers are located by the sinks in most studios. As well sharps containers are located in various studios for the safe disposal of glass, knives or saw blades.

All workplace hazardous materials must be identified and disposed of according Provincial Regulations. No substance that may affect the Environment, Plant, Animal, or Human Life can be disposed of in the garbage or flushed down the sewer system. Consult with a Technician before you act.

Effective ventilation is the best method for controlling contaminants generated and released into the studio atmosphere. There are two basic types of ventilation: general and local exhaust. Local exhaust ventilation is required when working in: 

Painting Studio W817
Metal Shop W840 
Advanced Studio W823
Kiln Room W890D 
Wood Shop W840A
Clay Mixing/ Slurry Room 890A 

Spray Booths are located in W840 + W520, use these when spraying fixative to drawings or when using spray paint. If the contaminant is highly toxic or large amounts of the toxic material are produced a respirator must also be worn.

As a result of the hazard assessment performed by the Technical Staff of the Department of Art working alone is not permitted if it can be avoided. 

All work planned outside of times when Technicians are on shift must be done with another student. Any Students found working alone in any studio area will be asked to leave the facility by Security personnel. The buddy system should now be enforced in all of the following workspaces:  W817, W823, W869, W871, W890, A, B, C +D, W520, L804, W844, W842, and W748 A-K. Excerpt from Art Safety Policy (1992); 

In addition, students working after hours are required to have a buddy present. A buddy is another student who is enrolled in and cognizant of the School of Fine Arts Safety Policy. The buddy must remain within the same studio at all times. 

The University of Lethbridge now has a Working Alone Safely Login that informs Security that an individual is working alone on campus. All Faculty, Staff, and Students are asked to use this system to login and out with security when they are on campus after regular hours.

The Working Alone Safety Login can be access through Uleth Safe app

This policy was developed through the guidelines found in the booklet “Working Alone Safely: A Guide for Employers and Employees” as developed by Alberta Human Resources and Employment. 


In the event of fire, please phone the following EMERGENCY number immediately: 911 or 329-2345. 

Action to be taken (R.E.A.C.T.): 

  1. Remove those in danger. 
  2. Ensure the room is closed. This step will confine a fire to the room of origin. This will also prevent the spread of smoke and toxic gases. 
  3. Activate the fire alarm. This will occur automatically with smoke and heat detection equipment. There is nothing wrong with calling the Fire Department for assistance and providing details of the fire. 
  4. Call the Fire Department. 911 or 329-2345. A person should be designated to call the Fire Department even though the building alarm system is automatically connected to the Fire Department. 
  5. Try to extinguish or control the fire. If there is any doubt in the mind of the person(s) attempting to extinguish the fire regarding their ability to do so, then confine the fire to the room of origin by closing the door. 
  6. Evacuate. 
  7. Keep people from re-entering the building until directed to do so by the Building Fire Warden of Campus Security. 

Air Contamination

Should you smell any foreign or unrecognized odors, please phone the following EMERGENCY number immediately: 329-2345. 

What to report: 

  1. The location of the odor. 
  2. Time the odor was first apparent. 
  3. Any physical symptoms experienced by persons in the affected area, ie. headache, feeling of nausea. 
  4. Any information suggesting the odor's origin. 

Open any windows or doors to attempt to dilute the polluted air with fresh outside air. Stay out of the affected area and await further instruction by safety personnel. 

Chemical Spills

Should a chemical spill occur in your area please phone the following EMERGENCY number immediately: 329-2345. 

What to report: 

  1. The location of the spill and any evidence that tells what the chemical could be, ie. an empty bleach bottle lying on the floor indicating the substance may be bleach. 
  2. Any odor, ie. a strong smell of ammonia. 
  3. Any visible chemical reaction that may be occurring, ie. a substance bubbling on the floor. 

When proper personnel have been notified, no one should enter the contaminated area. If an odor is present, open a window and post a guard outside the odorous area keeping untrained persons away. NO ATTEMPT SHOULD BE MADE TO CLEAN UP THE SPILL. Await arrival of emergency personnel.

Personal Protective Equipment

There are times when exposure to toxic materials cannot be prevented, and as such any person working in the area must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment. Contact the Technician, your Professor, or OHS for assistance in selecting the correct PPE. It is not only important that the correct PPE is worn but that the equipment fit properly. For instance, respirators must have a mask to face seal and facial hair prevents a tight seal.

  • CSA approved eye protection must be worn when working in W840 and elsewhere when the activity demands it.
  • Prescription lenses and sport glasses are not an acceptable substitute for proper, required Industrial safety eye protection.
  • Contact lens should not be worn in Art Studio Environments. Contact lens may trap or absorb particles or gases causing eye irritation or blindness.
  • Eye protection should fit properly, with or without prescription lens.
  • Return glasses to the proper storage rack face up to avoid scratching lens.
  • In this storage rack you will find a variety of styles- pick the one that fits you best
  • There are two common types of hearing protection: earplugs or earmuffs.
  • One or both types must be used when working in W840 and W890B (grinding room) and at all times when equipment is operating.
  • These studio workshops are high noise areas and hearing protection is a must even if you are not the one making the noise.
  • Hearing loss, which normally occurs over an extended period of time, is one concern in high noise areas. The immediate effect of high noise areas is fatigue- when we are tired we make mistakes, some of which could be serious.
  • Students are required to wear good solid shoes when working in Art Studio. Leather shoes with closed toes are best. These protect your feet from most substances used in studios- for example, spills: photo chemicals, acids, and paints. Open toed sandals should not be worn in any studio, and are not permitted in W840 or W890.
  • If you have safety boots wear them and if you know you are going to live in these studios buy some safety footwear.
  • Employees must wear safety footwear in the above areas and in the performance of the majority of their duties.
  • Dust masks most be worn in W840, W840A, and W890 A, B, and C when the activities in these areas are dust producing.
  • Local ventilation and air extraction equipment must be utilized in the above studios depending on the nature of your activity.
  • Spray Booths are located in W840 + W520, use these when spraying fixative to drawings or when using spray paint.
  • If the contaminant is highly toxic or large amounts of the toxic material are produced a respirator must also be worn

Due to the variety of studio activities you must consider further personal protection that may take many different forms such as leather gloves, nitrile gloves, leather/chemical aprons etc.

Generally the following rules apply when working in studios and shops:

  • All rings, bracelets, necklaces, and watches should be removed. Long hair must be tied firmly back and tuck in. Short sleeves should be worn when working in the wood shop and shirttails must be tucked in.
  • If you bend over nothing should fall away from your body.
  • When working with metal or hot processes long sleeves should be worn, and clothing should be made of natural fibers such as cotton or wool. Synthetic fibers, such as spandex or polyester, melt onto the skin and can cause severe burns.
  • Unlike in the woodshop, shirttails should not be tucked in when working with hot processes. Do not roll up sleeve cuffs, and pocket flaps should be closed. You want any hot particle to be able to pass through your clothing and not to become trapped against your skin.
  • Shorts and open-toed shoes or sandals should not be worn in the other studios. You must keep in mind that many of the products you will use are absorbed through the skin, and could be corrosive.
  • Wash hands and arms thoroughly before leaving the studios after working with potentially hazardous material and before eating, drinking, smoking, etc.

Care and Maintenance 8th Floor Exhibition Spaces

These spaces will operate on a one-week rotating schedule, and it is your responsibility to schedule your time in the space. At the end of the exhibition period the following procedure must be followed:

  • Get the paint kit from technicians. In this kit you will find the following supplies: 
    Paint Brush, Roller sleeve and handle, pole sander and sand paper, Extension Pole, Wall Filler, putty knife, Tape, White Latex paint, Paint Tray and drop cloths, brush, and roller spinner. 

  • Lay down the drop cloths tight to the walls, if necessary tape these down with painters tape. They should overlap each other by 24”. 

  • Remove all nails and fastening devices, with pole sander lightly sand the walls, smoothing out the dimple caused by your nails. 

  • Prepare a small quantity of wall filler and apply leanly to all nail holes. 

  • When this is dry lightly sand the walls again taking care to make the walls as smooth as possible. 

  • Stir your paint well and only use the latex paint provided. 

  • Fill the paint tray with a moderate quantity of paint working only on the drop clothes. 

  • With a paintbrush first apply a brush coat on all filled areas, then carefully cut in the edges of the walls. Do not paint concrete, floors, baseboards, or electrical outlets. 

  • Once you have finished cutting in use the roller to apply a light even coat of white latex paint to the walls. 

  • After you have completed the painting scrap excess paint from roller into tray, with a brush, clean paint tray returning excess paint to paint can. 

  • Roll or fold up your drop cloths and sweep the area before returning paint kit to W840. 

  • Return all used painting equipment to W840 and carefully remove the roller sleeve and thoroughly rinse it in the sink making sure all paint is washed out of roller and paintbrush. 

  • Using the paint spinner in the sink fit roller sleeve over end of spinner and spin roller to remove excess water. Stand damp roller sleeve upright for finally drying.  

  • Using the paint spinner, place brush handle into clamp and spin to remove excess water. Smooth out the bristle while brush is still damp and lay brush flat to dry or hang on wall over sink.

Painting & Drawing

  • Know the material you are working with and acquire the SDS on all materials you purchase. Read the WHMIS labels and information sheets to ascertain the proper safety precautions you should take.
  • Wear the appropriate Personal Protection Equipment when working in the studios. Consider aprons or lab coats for painting, wear nitrile gloves when handling solvents or apply barrier cream.
  • No paint or solvents can go down the drain- use the disposal containers provided.
  • All materials, supplies, and works in progress must be stored appropriately with the understanding that storage facilities must be user maintained.
  • A clear uncluttered passageway must be maintained in the storage area behind W817/ W871/ W869 and in the W520 storage areas; do not leave paintings or portfolios so that they stick out beyond the front edge of racks.
  • If your paintings are too big for corridor use larger classroom racks.
  • All paint, drawing, and portfolio storage must be cleared out at the end of each term. Look for signs and heed your instructor’s directions about portfolio pick-up at end of term. All articles left behind will be removed and thrown out.
  • If you are unsure about which tool/material to use or how to use it consult the safe work manual, a technician and your instructor before starting.
  • All placement of art outside the studio classroom must be approved by OH&S through the completion of the Art Placement Form. This form is on the OH&S website of the university and must be completed five days prior to the installation of your work.
  • Doors to studios must be kept closed- do not prop open. Do not give away the code to studio doors.
  • All containers must be labeled; do not use food or drink containers for any controlled substances, such as paint thinner. Use plastic containers whenever possible; a glass container will shatter on the concrete studio floors.
  • Wear personal listening devices in all Studio Classrooms when working after class hours. Other students may need the quiet to concentrate.
  • You may be asked by your instructor not to use any personal listening devices during class hours. If this is the case, please follow the directions given you.
  • All painting and drawing studios are shared work spaces; please leave your classrooms clean and return furnishings, wash tables, clean taborets, and inspect your work area throwing out all garbage and collecting your personal effects before you depart.
  • Clean studio classrooms are safe studios and each person using them must make an effort to maintain them.
  • Do not work alone in painting and drawing classrooms after Technicians’ work hours. You must have someone working in the same classroom with you, or use the ULeth Safe App to log in with Security as working alone.
  • Be aware of the impact of your work on the work of others in the studios.
  • Adjust air movement and heat distribution with the environmental controls provided in each classroom. These may include ceiling fans, thermostats, or locally adjusted air exchange units.
  • After 8:00pm and on weekends the local ventilation in W817 (Painting studio) must be turned on. It is on a timer, and every three hours it must be re-activated.

Hazards and Recommended Safety Precautions

Please avoid cutting into the table tops as these marks will effect your drawing- use scrap cardboard or a cutting mat underneath your material to protect table and desk tops.

  • Knives are primarily designed to make straight cuts using a guide or straight edge. To cut, draw the blade towards you while keeping your other hand well out of the line of blade movement while firmly holding the straight edge against your material.
  • The best practice when using any knife is to stage your cut with repeated light strokes to avoid blade deflection and unintentional blade breaks. Score the material with a firm but light hand, run the blade repeatedly along the straight edge so that the cut progresses through the material in stages.
  • Of the two types of knives available the X Acto knife is safest because it is designed with single use blades.
  • Conversely, the more flexible utility or “snap blade” knife is designed with breakaway blades, which allow the user the ability to break a dull section of blade off and continue working. This blade flexibility can cause unexpected movement of the knife and result in cuts.
  • Avoid using extendable blades when cutting paper products. Use knives that have limited blade extension.
  • For cutting shapes it may be better to use scissors rather than a knife.

Long term use of small hand tools can result in carpal tunnel syndrome, which can be incapacitating in severe cases. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be minimized or avoided by using tools with wide handles, avoiding tight grips, and taking rest periods with hand flexing exercises.

These include dust-creating media such as charcoal and pastels. Oil pastels and crayons do not produce as much dust.

  • Wear clothing that is not precious, or protect clothing with a lab coat or apron. Nitrile gloves are recommended when handling paint and cleaning materials.
  • If you are doing very dusty drawings wear a dust mask- this will keep your nasal passages clean at the end of class.
  • Charcoal dust is considered a nuisance dust; inhalation of large amounts of charcoal dust can create chronic lung problems through mechanical irritation and clogging.
  • The main cause of charcoal dust inhalation is from the habit of blowing your dust off your paper. Don’t blow, tap the dust off your drawing into the garbage cans.
  • Colored chalk pastels are also considered a nuisance dusts, although they may contain toxic pigments which can cause serious health problems. For this reason, purchase dustless chalks and do not blow chalk dust off drawings. As with charcoal, tap surface dust into garbage bin.
  • Graphite has replaced the lead used in old pencils and is not considered a hazard. However, colored pencil can still contain toxic pigments so appropriate care should be taken.
  • Most dry drawing media require an application of spray fixative. Both workable and permanent fixatives contain toxic solvents, therefore all fixatives must be used in the spray booths located either in W520 Studio or in W840 Sculpture Studio.
  • After spraying your fixative in the spray booth let the spray booth run until fixative has dried. This will take about fifteen minutes. Do not return to your studio with freshly fixed drawings.

These are mostly water-based inks, washes of watercolours, or gouache, but can include felt tip markers.

  • Permanent felt tip markers can often contain Xylene, which is a toxic aromatic hydrocarbon. When choosing felt markers look for ones that contain less toxic solvents like isopropyl alcohol.
  • The greatest concern with felt markers exists when a whole class is using them in the same room at the same time, as the ventilation system may not be able to dilute the concentration of solvent.
  • Never use paint, markers, or drawing inks on your body. Only use non-toxic pigments found in cosmetic colours that are made for this application.
  • Avoid solvent or oil based drawing media as much as possible. If you must use them consider your safe work practices, investigate and make appropriate arrangements.

The following are lists of toxic inorganic pigments and known carcinogens. Poisoning can occur if these pigments are ingested or inhaled. Follow SWP to avoid accidental ingestion of any pigment. Testing is not available for modern synthetic organic pigments. Be sure to obtain and read the Manufacturer’s SDS for all media.


Toxic Pigments

Known or Probable Carcinogens/Highly Toxic Pigments

antimony white (antimony trioxide)

barium yellow (barium chromate)

burnt umber or raw umber (iron oxides, manganese silicates or dioxide)

cadmium red or orange (cadmium sulfide, cadmium selenide)

cadmium yellow (cadmium sulfide)

cadmium barium colors (cadmium colors and barium sulfate)

cadmium barium yellow (cadmium sulfide, cadmium selenide, barium sulfate, zinc sulfide)

chrome green (prussian blue, lead chromate)

chrome orange (basic lead carbonate)

chrome yellow (lead chromate)

cobalt violet (cobalt arsenate or cobalt phosphate)

cobalt yellow (potassium cobaltinitrate)

lead or flake white (basic lead carbonate)

lithol red (sodium, barium and calcium salts of soluble azo pigment)

manganese violet (manganese ammonium pyrophosphate)

molybdate orange (lead chromate, lead molybdate, lead sulfate)

naples yellow (lead antimonate)

strontium yellow (strontium chromate

vermilion (mercuric sulfide)

zinc sulfide (zinc chromate)

zinc yellow (zinc chromate)


Moderately Toxic Pigments/Slightly Toxic Pigments

alizarin crimson (lakes of 1,2-dihydroxyanthaquinone or insoluble anthraquinone pigment)

carbon black (carbon)

cerulean blue (cobalt stannate)

cobalt blue (cobalt stannate)

cobalt green (calcined cobalt, zinc and aluminum oxides)

chromium oxide green (chromic oxide)

manganese blue (barium manganate, barium sulfate)

prussian blue (ferric ferrocyanide)

toluidine red (insoluble azo pigment)

toluidine yellow (insoluble azo pigment)

viridian (hydrated chromic oxide)

zinc white (zinc oxide)

  • Wear clothing that is not precious, or protect clothing with a lab coat or apron.
    Nitrile gloves are recommended when handling paint and cleaning materials.
  • Do not wear contact lenses in painting studios as they can trap solvent fumes against your eyes.
  • Understand the hazards of your paints and solvents. Read the SDS.
  • Limit use of solvents in the classrooms and instead use a safer oil (walnut oil, baby oil, vegetable oil) to clean brushes, followed by a commercial soap.
  • Use plastic razor blades to clean up unused paint on glass pallets, wipe residue onto recycled paper from phone books.
  • Paper towels supplied in classroom are for hand drying only- this is not scrap paper. Use the supplied rags to clean oil and oil paint residue, and store oily rags in metal can at front of W817.
  • Choose safer solvents like turpenoid or odorless paint thinner rather than the more toxic turpentine, and if you most use solvents use them sparingly and keep covered to avoid evaporation of solvents into classroom air supply.
  • Place waste solvent in approved disposal containers located in classrooms. Do not put any paint or solvents down the drains. Ask yourself: Would I want to drink this?
  • Do not put solvents or cleaning oils in any food or drink containers or dishes- make sure all containers are clearly labeled with their contents and that the SDS is on hand.

Water-based paints include watercolours, acrylic, gouache and tempera. With water-based paints water is used for thinning and clean up rather than solvents. Although these paints are water soluble this does not mean they are necessarily non-toxic. Good ventilation practices should be in place when using all paints, even water-based paints.

  • Although acrylics are water-soluble when wet, once they dry they are water resistant and, essentially, plastic. Do not dispose of large amounts of acrylic paint in the sink as it will clog the drains. Instead, wipe your brushes and palettes with scrap newsprint or phonebook pages before cleaning them in the sink.
  • Most acrylic paints contain small amounts of ammonia. Some people may experience eye, nose and throat irritation.
  • All water-based paints contain a preservative to prevent mold and bacterial from growing.
  • Some manufacturers use a small amount of formaldehyde as a preservative. People with a developed sensitivity to formaldehyde can experience an allergic reaction from the trace amounts found in acrylic paint.
  • If you experience eye, nose, or throat irritation while using acrylics, get fresh air.

Gesso is a water-based sealer used to prepare your canvas for painting. When sealing a large area or large canvases always use a canvas drop sheet to avoid getting gesso on the floor. Drop sheets are located in W817 or available from Technicians.

For building stretchers or cutting panels for painting, please see the Woodshop Safe Work Practice Manual regarding use of the Sliding Compound Miter Saw, Radial Arm Saw, Panel Saw, Compressed Air, and Pneumatic Staplers and Nailers.