Pet Hair, Lint, and Paintings Don’t Mix

During my participation in a local art fair over the summer, I visited with an artist who portrayed white subjects in oil paint. Although he proudly displyed his artwork to the public at his booth; I noticed that he had not taken proper preparations when he had dried his oil paintings. What surprisingly had caught my and his patrons’ attentions was not so much his artistic techniques but rather the dense lint and pet hair that were so visibly profuse upon the pale-hued surfaces of his painted works.

Oil paintings do not dry quickly. My oil paintings are usually touchable after one to three days. Even so, depending upon oil paint varieties and oil additives used in a painting, the painting  still requires six months to slightly over a year to fully cure before it can be varnished (again, much depends upon its paint thickness  as well as its local environmental conditions). These paintings must be stored apart and in low humidity, in a dust and pet-hair free environment, when curing. Otherwise, detritus may become undesirably integrated into the surface of the painting.

Whites, or certain other light-hued paints, are slower to dry than the darker colored paints. Cottonseed oil dries more slowly than linseed oil, but it does not yellow, therefore paint manufacturers choose cottonseed oil over linseed oil in an effort to reduce darkening or yellowing the white paints they produce. Linseed oil is used in the darker paint colors because they dry faster and yellowing is less noticed in the darker-hued paint colors. Because of such slow drying aspects, It is important to remember to keep in-progress oil paintings away from the risks of animal hair and lint.

I wear lint free clothes around my paintings, and dry my paintings on a rack which separates each painting from the next. An artist can own pets and yet not allow the presence of such pets to interfere with work over important oil paints. For the sake of my painting and pet health, I keep pets out of the studio, and most specifically when painting.

In my studio, I dust with a damp cloth instead of a feather duster because I have observed that feather dusters tend to scatter dust and feather fibers into the air. Feather fibers, much like pet hair, can detract from the aesthetics of any artistic work. If I am not going to be in the studio for a while, as extra effort of protection for my paintings, I drape a clean, unused dust cloth over the top of the drying rack of paintings.

Charity Goodwin, Artist

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