Art Health 101

Traditionally, an air filter sits in the corner of a room and stirs up the atmosphere, waiting around for fumes and dust to come its way. Recently, though, we heard about a new take on tradition—an air filter that’s specifically for artists, designed to fit exactly where the pastel dust, oil painting solvents or charcoal fillings are most likely to accumulate—right on your easel.

Designed to efficiently and quietly clean an area as large as 1,200 square feet, Artist’s Air is the new must-have studio supply for the health-conscious artist. “Most studio artists use toxic materials,” writes creator Warren Riess on the Artist’s Air Web site. “Oil painters commonly work with harmful solvents, including turpentine and odorless petroleum distillates. Pastel and ceramic artists generate potentially harmful dusts, including heavy-metal particles, and acrylic and gouache painters release small amounts of formaldehyde, ammonia, and gum binders into their environment. Harmful substances, if not eliminated, will pollute the air not only in your studio, but also in any attached rooms and the surrounding environment.”

With a claim to cleanse your studio of all those toxins, we decided to put Artist’s Air to the test. Due to her allergy-induced asthma, world-renowned pastelist Maggie Price has been using traditional air filters for years. Here’s what she had to say about the new addition to her studio:

What was your first impression of Artist’s Air?

I thought it was a great idea. I work on an easel with my backing board upright so dust will fall. Having it fall right into the air filter seemed to be so much better than depending on it floating around the room enough to be picked up by a filter placed nearby. When I first looked at the cost ($1,099 for the standard model), I thought it was a bit expensive. But I paid $499 for my previous filter and this one is more efficient. And then I realized that for anyone with allergies, preventing an allergic reaction would likely be less costly than dealing with one after the fact.

Ann Emmert Abbott is editor of Watercolor Magic and Cristine Antolik is a freelance writer based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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