Monday, October 1, 2018

It’s Inktober-Are you In?

Every year, people from around the world make a promise to themselves that they will work to improve their daily drawing practice during the month of October. They make an ink drawing each day and then they share the results on social media with the tag #inktober and #inktober2018.

I'll usually be posting my daily ink drawings on Flickr and Instagram. Go to and select the link you want.

How about it? Are you in? Here’s where to get more information if you’ve never done this before.
For those who want the official daily prompts, here’s this year’s list.
In honor of the first day of Inktober 2018, I sat down at my drafting table in the studio this morning and drew a collection of my watercolor tubes, pans and pencils. All those in this photo are considered toxic, which fits the prompt for the day, "Poisonous".
Oct 1, 2018--Prompt is "Poisonous"

The pigments used in all media, watercolor, colored pencil, oil, acrylic, etc. may contain toxic materials. Most, but not all, of the toxicity issues are associated with heavy, or toxic, metals such as copper, cobalt, cadmium, lead. Caroline Roberts has written a comprehensive article about toxicity in artists' pigments here.

These are some of Caroline's suggestions on how to handle your materials safely:
 How to handle toxic paints safely
  1. Do not use the same containers for paints that you do for food or drink. Well, duh, but thought I'd put it in anyway.
  2. Do not put paint brushes in your mouth! Use a brush holder or a piece of kitchen towel.
  3. Wash hands thoroughly after each painting session.
  4. Even better, wear latex gloves whilst painting, or at least whilst using the toxic pigments. I hate wearing gloves but after researching this topic I will be wearing them. Simple as that.
  5. Wear a dust mask if you handle pigment powders. Make sure it's the right one and keep it clean!
  6. Do not have food in your studio and use covered drinks containers.
  7. Since we don't want heavy metals in our rivers either, wipe up paints with kitchen towel and dispose of in the trash, not down the drain.
  8. If you sand your paints at all (as an acrylic painter, yes I do) then wear a respiratory mask. Keeping the paint surface damp as you sand also keeps the dust down.
Author: Caroline Roberts


  1. Love your toxic paints! I will be joining in, but I'm not following the prompts. I just like to get out and sketch. :)

  2. Hmmm. Interesting. I always use a covered drink bottle, mostly so that I don't dip my brush in my drink!

    How does one dispose of the "dirty" water from watercolor painting? Or is that what is meant by wipe up with a paper towel.

    1. The covered drink bottle is a great idea, Kate.

      Although there are many other articles on the subject of toxicity in artists’ pigment, I chose Caroline Roberts’ because she had the most succinct list and links to further information. She is an acrylic artist, so the paper towel cleanup is the best way to dispose of paint for her.

      Most of my pigment from watercolor sketches goes on the painting itself. I rarely use toxic colors in my work. There is very little actual pigment that remains in my used water container so I dispose of it either in the toilet or the studio sink. It’s the same at art centers and schools where I teach watercolor classes.