THE ALLERGIC ARTIST | the allergic artist


When one thinks of allergies in general, we think of the obvious ones

  • Grass
  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Cosmetics
  • Suntan lotions
  • A variety of foods, eggs, fish, grain. In fact, so many people have food allergies which can be very serious.
  • Peanuts – parents are instructed not to give their children peanut butter sandwiches to take to school just in case there is a child there who could have an allergic reaction.
  • garlic, now who would have thought the very things we think of as healthy could be a danger to someone’s life?
  • Stings from a variety of insects, and not forgetting jellyfish and other sea creatures.

This last one, the allergy to a jellyfish came home to us in a very dramatic way.

However hard we might try to keep our family free from all illness, whatever health and wellness program we follow, the number of gym memberships we may join over time, there is still something that we may have little or no control over, and that is our allergic reaction to certain things.

To my mind, it would be wonderful if there were clinics worldwide, especially geared up to treat patients who have allergies, like Premier Allergy and Asthma Clinic which you can find in many locations in the United States

This proved true when one of my sons was stung by a bluebottle while on holiday with his family. He went into anaphylactic shock which necessitated him being rushed to the closest hospital with lights flashing, and eventually police escort, where he was fortunately revived by the quick-thinking doctor on duty.

He has always been very careful about health and wellness as he was a very keen cyclist which meant he had to follow a good eating plan to have the energy required to take part in his chosen sport.

I am pleased to say, still is, living a full and energetic lifestyle, albeit with his EpiPen (adrenalin-filled) with him at all times. The experience of just how serious an allergic reaction can be has woken us all up.


Painting by Maureen Graham

One would think that being an artist would be a wonderful occupation for anyone with the talent and passion for painting and drawing.

What the ideal life it would be, unless, you are an allergic artist.

There is a drawback if one is allergic to the very things necessary to make your dream come true.

  • Paint pigments
  • Thinning agents
  • canvas

There are so many things that can cause allergic reactions in a studio,  and if you are living in that space as well, which many artists do, these allergies are much more difficult to deal with.

The art studio is not the easiest place to keep dust-free, and that with the added danger of some of the pigments can make for serious allergy issues just by breathing them in as you work.


There are ways of combatting the problems that artists face.

  • One would be to change the medium you are using from perhaps acrylic paint to oils which are much less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
  • No dust can come off oil paints.

I know this takes a complete mind shift but if it means making a change for your health’s sake or stop painting completely, I know which option I would choose.

In the United States, one can attend the Premier Allergy and Asthma Clinic, and perhaps there are others like this in other parts of the world. If there are not, then there should be as many more people would benefit.

There is also something called the Allergy Release Technique which would be well worth pursuing.

This is something I found when doing the research for this article and certainly, as an artist, I shall be looking into it.

Do you suffer from any allergies as an artist?

If so, how were you able to resolve them?

Jill Alexa

Jill of all Trades. Master of Many. Too busy to die.

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