Before I started oil painting, I spent some time looking into the health issues associated with the paint's (and medium's) odors. I already had experience with spraying furniture finishes and lacquer thinner, and I was fully aware of their negative effects, including their ability to dull my glasses! I believe that the most reasonable method of expelling these odors is through one or more outside-venting fans. Besides the material costs, the obvious disadvantages of fans are the increase in noise and the loss of heated and cooled studio air.

For my first ventillation system, I used three surplus computer fans. A hole saw was used to cut through a piece of supporting plywood. A separate power cord was run from each fan to the power strip, which has a single on/off switch

To help test this system (and because it was fun to do), I used a "smoke" generator to fill a 15′ by 15′ room with the fans off. Then, I turned the generator off and turned the fans on, and watched the direction of the smoke in various areas of the room. The fans seemed to do a adequate job of pulling the smoke to the outside.

After 5-7 hours of painting, I usually keep the fans on for one hour to vent the room. I also turn on the fans during my lunch break. During these periods when the ventilation fans are on, I cover the heat/air conditioning vent on the floor with a book.

For these double-hung windows, a piece of cove molding was used to fill-in the air gap when the fans are in use. Small pieces of Velcro kept the molding in place.

The ventillation system for my second school-house studio was more upscale. I used one 665 CFM axial fan with about a 9″ diameter. To give the fan an old-fashion look, I built a wood box for it, attached two handles, covered the front with a cast aluminum grille, and powered it through a cloth-covered electric cord.