So how do I keep lint, dust, dirt and cat hair out of my paint?
I start with a tack cloth - any brand will do. You get them from your local hardware or paint store.
Out of its package, my tack cloth looks like this (above).
The tack Cloth (sometimes called a Tack Rag) is a (cheap) reusable cloth impregnated with beeswax and it gobbles up dust. You wipe the dry surface of your canvas and your palette before you begin to paint.
You can also wipe down your easel (especially the tray in front).
Keep it fresh between uses in a zip-loc plastic baggie.
You can skip my Stress Reduction Kit above and buy some Shop Towels instead.
I usually buy them by the case at an auto supply store or the car section in a large store (i.e., WalMart). Lint free paper towels also come in a large box but I prefer the rolls as they are easier to store.
Out of the package, a Shop Towel roll looks like this. It is an ugly bright blue but is totally lint free. Always use them to wipe your brushes.
Using ordinary paper towels, you will eventually cause a significant buildup of lint in your paint.
Also try this:
1. ALWAYS hang your wet paintings vertically on a wall to dry.
2. Do NOT lay a wet painting flat on a surface (like a tabletop) to collect dust as it dries.
3. Do not rest a wet painting on the floor.
4. Damp mop your studio floor (or vacuum) as often as necessary to pick up dust.
5. Use an air cleaner - the "Ion" type is best.
Do what you can. It all helps.
And know that dirt and other things that don't belong in paint was a common problem for the Old Masters too.
Go to any large museum and find some of those gigantic epic paintings and take a close look at the surface of the paint.
I remember seeing (at the Musee du Louvre shown above) all kinds of nasty things (like remains of bugs, fingerprints, dog hair) that embedded themselves in thick wet (probably slow-drying) paint centuries ago.