Revisiting Acrylics – Hope for the Chemically Sensitive?

Over the past four years I have sampled many brands of acrylics and had reactions ranging from mild (dizziness) to severe (throat closing off).  I knew oils were not an option, so I pretty much gave up on having an opaque medium to work with other than gouache.

Around Christmas I bought some used art supplies, and in the box was a small set of Daler Rowney System 3 Acrylics.  Before getting rid of them I thought I’d try a little test on some watercolor paper since I was curious about using acrylics on an absorbent surface.  I put on a charcoal mask and neoprene gloves.  I could still smell the acrylics a bit but it didn’t bother me at all.  I waited a few days and decided to try them again, this time without the mask, and again I had no reaction.  I even got some on my hands and didn’t have a problem which was very encouraging.

One challenge was the drying time.  Since I live in a very dry climate, the paint was practically dry before I could do the next series of strokes!  So I talked to my art store manager and he suggested mixing in a little of Golden’s Open Acrylics gloss medium to slow the drying time.  I was very skeptical since I have severe reactions to Golden paints.  But I was willing to give it a try.  Again, no reaction.

I began to wonder if I was just getting over my sensitivities to some acrylic polymers so I opened a couple of other acrylic brands that I had and immediately reacted.  So the bad news is I’m still sensitive to most acrylics, but the good news is that I have a brand and a medium I can tolerate.  This opened up a whole new world for me.

My first painting was a mountain lion for a swap on the Southwest And Western Art forum on Wet Canvas. This was how he turned out:


It was so much fun!  Next I decided to do a painting for my grandkids who love the Paw Patrol cartoon show:


This is my youngest grandson opening the package 🙂


It was great to be able to ship a painting without worrying about glass breaking.  I found an acrylic varnish I tolerate as long as I use it outside with a mask, so I can do kid-proof paintings now!

More on acrylics in my next post…

This entry was posted in Acrylic Painting, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Non-Toxic Art Supplies, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Revisiting Acrylics – Hope for the Chemically Sensitive?

  1. Cheryl Stewart says:

    How brave of you to try and test new things. Many of us with MCS are so afraid of having a reaction that we limit ourselves beyond what is needed. I don’t know what is cuter the Paw Patrol painting or the grandson. Thank you

  2. Thanks – he’s growing up and my newest grandson loves it, too 🙂

    I was first diagnosed with MCS in the early 80s when it was just beginning to be recognized. For so many years I had to live very isolated, usually in just a few safer rooms in my home. It’s so easy to let MCS define you because of that isolation. I kept experimenting and sometimes really did myself in, but sometimes I found breakthroughs that got me a little closer to normal.

    There’s such an inborn desire in us to create, and as we lose options one by one, it’s easy to give up even trying. At least most of us can handle some sort of paper and pencils and YouTube instructional art videos have opened up a whole new world (if you can handle being on the computer to watch them!).


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