Monday, July 23, 2012

May Showers - Paintings

School is out of session and my hands are getting unhealthily covered with oil paint again (accidentally, I just can't help it.  I'm trying).  I had the chance to dabble for a session or two of still life painting in December but my friends have been amazing in the past two months.

I've been happily painting studies and testing out new painting mediums (in 3 hour sessions or less).  Solvents are deadly but more on that later.


These three paintings are of my friend Shannon, all done in 3 hours or less, done with oil paint, the last with walnut oil in stead of artist medium/odourless solvent.  

Shannon graciously read a book on my couch so that I could paint.  For these studies I was re-familiarizing myself with painting and trying to work out my process rather than focus on the figure/composition of the image.  I find there to be a short learning curve when I haven't painted for months on my colour mixing and identifying abilities.

The last painting in this sequence was painted atop an older study of a green teapot that I did not prime and I believe lent itself to the anemic look in her skin (She's pale but not this pale) that I don't feel I compensated for enough while mixing and thinning my colours.  Overall I still believe this image to be a progression.  Working with WALNUT OIL instead of artist medium and solvent was a new experience and the painting went so poorly that I almost gave up on walnut oil immediately but recognized the learning curve.  The more I paint with the oil as a medium alone the more I'm enjoying the blending and layering properties of my oil paints.  Try a new medium on the fly to see what comes of it.  

I'm making a switch for my health and longevity and trying to eliminate solvent as a medium in my painting process.  In my last year of my Bachelor of Illustration program I spent three solid days painting a good 18 hours a day.  My workspace was in my bedroom (never do this).  These three blurry days I used the orange scented 'non-toxic' solvent having been warned the dangers of solvents.  My bedroom door was open, I had a fan blowing fumes away from me and my window was open (even though it was bloody cold).  I disposed of rags regularly and took breaks from my room.  At the end of the three days, work completed, I was so dizzy from the chemicals that if I sat up I would be reeled back to a horizontal position.  I'd overdone the painting and it took me a solid two days to recover from what I'd done to myself.  I couldn't do anything but lay in my bed barred from any vertical movement.  To this day if I smell the orange solvent I feel sick.   Since then I have switched to odourless solvent (Yes, it is toxic) and it bothers me after a time and is poisonous but I take some precautions and, as previously mentioned, have begun to weed out the use of it.

Healthy and Safety

Work in a well ventilated room

Turn on a fan to blow the fumes away from you and your model

Open a window

Take breaks away from the work area

When using solvents use a small mouthed container
The smaller the surface area of the solvent that is exposed the less it evaporates into the air

Clean not only the bristles of your paintbrushes but the handles as well since at least trace amount of paints and solvents transfer inevitably and seep into your skin

The number one spot on the body that toxins seep in through is under the fingernails
Scrub your hands and fingernails with a nail brush afterwards
Wear a barrier cream on your hands and forearms (gloves would be better) if you have a tendency to get paint on yourself

Do NOT leave open solvents containers around

Keep your paintings away from your sleeping area as they continue to fume

Do not wipe your hands on your clothing, the toxins seep through to your skin and poison you
Wear a frock/apron


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