Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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04/19/2004: "Anti-consumerism experiment breaks down..."

OK, I went quite awhile without buying anything but today I got sucked into the art store again. I started reading a book Paint red hot landscapes that sell and despite the awful sell-out insinuations of the title, it's a great book for learning new techniques and not how to turn your work into cookie cutter crap that will sell, but how to look at your work in a new way so that you can see how to use color and design and painting techniques that will make your own vision stronger.

I wanted to try some of the exercises on painting with layers and using transparent glazing layers so I had to go and buy some new oils with better transparency. I ended up getting M Graham & Co. paints that are about 10 times more expensive than the normal crap I paint with. But according to the store clerk, they are much more pigment loaded and over-all better paints than the (Winton) Windsor Newton paints I'm embarrassed to admit I've been using. (200ml for $8.00 as opposed to 37ml for $15!).

I'll have to be a lot less wasteful with these new paints and use more extenders to help them last longer. I also picked up some more brushed and disposable pallet knives because I'm going to put off washing my brushes for as long as I possibly can. I told the clerk I wasn't a student but she gave me the 10 percent student discount anyway, must be the holes in my denim jacket.

Then, I had to go and buy an exhaust fan. I notice that whenever I use a lot of Liquin I'm all phlegmy and have a sore throat the next day. I was originally looking at very expensive air purification systems (awhile back, see Help Prevent Another Toxic Avenger) and a blogger named Jackie recommended I get a nice window fan instead. I hadn't even thought of that. Turns out my local hardware store was selling Lasko window exhaust fans for only 25 dollars! I should have purchased one a long time ago. I like it a lot; it fits in windows that are either vertical or horizontal and is super quiet. To give you an idea how quiet it is, I put bird seed on the window ledge for the finches, and seconds after putting the fan in front of their ledge, they were back feeding again.

The only thing I have left to get is something I'll have to order from Dick Blick, The Nox-Out Air Purifier a "molecular absorber that removes airborne particles less than .001 microns in size and locks them in. Place it on your table, easel, or mount it to the wall, and it will absorb chemical fumes for up to six months". With this combo, I shouldn't have to worry about doing too much further damage to my already maligned lungs. I spent years in a poorly ventilated printmaking studio; I don't even want to venture a guess at how many years I knocked off my life from that nightmare. Well, live and learn.

To any students or other artists just starting out I would say to really be serious about studio safety. I wish I knew 10 years ago what I know today (shudder). In fact, may I suggest reading The Artist's Complete Health and Safety Guide?

Replies: 4 Comments

on Monday, April 19th, Dio said

Painting with oils is scary stuff - I used to use lots of liquin, but I never noticed that happening to me.

However, I'm sure I've absorbed tons of turps over the years and its happily whizzing around me system killing brain cells and sending me slowly senile.

I won't use the stuff now. I will have to pick that book up one day, just to terrify meself... :crazy:

on Tuesday, April 20th,">vern said

Hi being the unartistic kind, your blog has cheered me up in a nice way...thanks

on Tuesday, April 20th,">Elise said

Hi Vern, your email ends with, is that South Africa? I think there is no such thing as an unartistic person, you just need to find your medium (or your muse).

Dio- You're probably right, and I've been blaming my senility on drugs all these years!

on Tuesday, April 20th, Dio said

Well there's one school of thought that says it was part of what sent Van Gogh around the loopy loo. I think that's why most big oil painters are mad to a certain extent. ;)