The Painting Studio in Williams uses only acrylic paints. No oil-based paint products should be used in this area.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for art studio materials:

If there are any additional materials that students want to use for more advanced painting projects, they must be approved by the instructor before use. Be sure to refer the the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to get the information about materials being used in class.

Water-Based Paints

Water-based paints include water color, acrylic, gouache, tempera and casein.  Water is used for thinning and cleanup.


  • Acrylic paints contain a small amount of ammonia.  Some people who are sensitive may experience eye, nose and throat irritation from the ammonia.  Acrylics and some gouaches contain a very small amount of formaldehyde as a preservative.  People already sensitized to formaldehyde could experience allergic reactions from the trace amount of formaldehyde found in acrylics.  The amounts can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
  • Casein paints use the protein casein as a binder.  While soluble forms are available, casein can be dissolved in ammonium hydroxide which is moderately irritating by skin contact and highly irritating by eye contact, ingestion, and inhalation.
  • All water-based paints contain a preservative to prevent mold or bacterial growth. Although present in small amounts, some preservatives may cause allergic reactions in some people and not others.


  • Never add your own preservative. For tempera, a small amount of pine oil works for short periods of time.
  • If you experience eye, nose or throat irritation while using acrylics, opening a window and increasing ventilation in the area in which you are working is usually sufficient.