Friday, November 28, 2008

Painting at the Yacht Club

On Monday we painted at the local yacht club, I am trying to simplify, abstract and reduce to the essence of the subject. This is my attempt using oil paints.

I had quite a scary experience and I wonder if anybody else has had this experience:- some of my friends are using Liquin, a fast-drying medium with their oils. I used it once before when painting in my studio and I had a horrific headache after a few hours of painting. I was not sure then that the headache was due to the Liquin.
This time, I thought I would be okay out in the open, but of course I had to pack it all in my car to get home and the smell was very strong. After an hour or so my head started pounding and I became very nauseous, well it got worse and I felt really horrible. This went on for 18 hours! I phone my artist/doctor friend who said that these solvents can be incredibly toxic and I probably have an efficient body that raises the alarm when exposed to toxic products. I still feel woolly headed even after 4 days!
I don’t get any adverse reactions my acrylic paints so I think I am going to stick to using them.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dianne, I'm sorry to hear of your experience with Liquin. On the web there are other people with this reaction to Liquin. The trouble is you are unaware of the toxicity because there isn't a strong smell to it like turpentine. I use it occasionally as a first coat because it dries quickly but after that I prefer turps and lineseed oil. I know some people use walnut oil which takes weeks to dry but is not toxic in any way. I make sure I have a window open when I use any solvents - I love oils but there are drawbacks to it. I have friends who paint in acrylic and I can't really tell the difference between oils and acrylics in their work.

I hope you are feeling better now.

Regards Carolann

Anonymous said...

By the way, love this painting, the blues are amazing. Its like looking through blue light prisms.

Kim said...


I am so very sorry you have had this issue. I am an asthmatic and have lots of issues with inhalants, so I completely understand a reaction to them. I often have to leave places where they have been cleaning with heavy chemicals.

Like you, I will not go there with some of the oil products. The only oil based pigments I will use are the oil sticks (oil bars) and oil pastels.

Hopefully you are feeling better soon. I know how awful this can feel. Also, one of the things the pulmonologist told me was to take Vitamin C (1200mg/day)to help with some of the results of those issues.

I really, really love this painting, though. It has turned out beautifully. The message is do what you are doing with your art - only with a different medium, right?

Hugs, Dianne!

Dianne McNaughton said...

Thanks, Carolann, I had a look on the web and found quite a few stories regarding solvents. I thought it would be okay painting outdoors, but apparently the still wet paintings in the studio can emit dangerous fumes.

Dianne McNaughton said...

Hi Kim, you will have to be very careful with your asthma. Thanks for the tip re Vit C, will get some vities tomorrow.
I actually love working with acrylics, but need to find a way to use them outside without them drying too quickly on my palette, even with a wet palette they form a film very quickly in the wind.

Suzanne McDermott said...

Sorry about your headache but that's poison for you. One of the main reasons I have stuck with watercolor all these years is that I can't stand to use the toxins required with oil — not only toxic to my personal body but to the earth in their manufacture, byproducts, usage and disposal. I have some water soluble oils that I'll break out again and am going to experiment thinning only with water.

sukipoet said...

Wow. I have never heard of that reaction but I guess the message is loud an clear. Could you try the water soluble oils? And are there things to add to acrylic that will extend the wet time? I have used liquin only once and noted the odor however it didnt effect me. Otherwise I have used turp and linseed oil. Which doesnt seem to effect me.

Your painting is just goregous. Like stained glass windows all in blues.


Well, I must say you've done an excellent job in this piece! I'm feeling the essence of the boats, sails and dock, and the blue shades give the feeling of the water, of course. Great job!

Scarey experience with the Liquin!
I find myself backing away from oils more and more,,,although they are my true love. Only started having a problem with solvents when I had really bad bronchitis. I find myself reaching for the acrylics more often than not.
Golden makes a product called "Retarder" that is used with acrylics that extends the drying time considerably. I've used it quite a bit,as I love painting wet in wet. Still not the same dry time as oils,of course,,,,but I haven't felt really 'rushed' to accomplish what I wanted to.
It's used just as you would use any of the mediums.
(feel better soon)

Kim said...

Hi Again Dianne,

There are some mediums you can mix with acrylics to keep them open longer. This is what Golden Paint says:

"For slower drying, add GOLDEN Retarder, but do not exceed 15%, as it will result in a surface that will not lose its tack. Acrylic Glazing Liquid can be used in place of straight Retarder, and there are no restrictions on amounts. "

I do not know if you use or can even get Golden brand, but you might find a similar product in the acrylic line you use.

I hope this helps you.

It is very nice to be talking paint again, Dianne!

Kim said...

Sorry to repeat what Babs already said...she really has the knowledge base and beats me to blogs all the time :)

Hope you can find retarder, Dianne!


I think we must have cross posted Kim,,,and you gave more complete information on the product anyway.

Dianne McNaughton said...

Thanks so much, Suzanne, Kim, Suki and Babs for caring and the information. This is the best thing about blogging, you put a problem out there and a discussion is started that can benefit us all. Not all of us react badly, but I do think we should all be aware of what we are handling and breathing in. I actually do work with water-soluble oils, but you cant get certain effects using just water, (you can use any medium with these paints).
Our local art supplier now is importing Golden acrylic products from the USA and they are fantastic. I will go and get this Retarder (thanks Kim and Babs) and see how I get on.
Its now watercolour, pastels or acrylics for me.
As far as the ecology goes, Suzanne, you are so right - I try to live my life in a way that is not detrimental to this earth, but hadn't thought about the impact I was making with oils and their mediums.

Carol said...

Hi Di
What a magical painting!
You already have all the information about retarders - they do work well though. I cannot take the smell of turps - makes me physically ill and then a headache, yes. If someone in the same room is using it I have to leave the room or stand in a doorway! I use artists' white spirits with my oils. Although it is very expensive, I have no problems with it. I love the smell of the linseed oil though.
Di, I am new to painting outside and wondered if you could possibly do a post on how to do it comfortably! What the minimum requirements are that is. I see by your photo that you have one of those big box easels, or is it a small back pack one? Is this the answer? Last time I went out I just took pencil, charcoal and watercolours! Left my oils at home which is a pity as I missed them.

Dianne McNaughton said...

Hi Carol,
I have used artist's white spirits at home and still I am getting headaches, could be the paints themselves! How do you cope with your oil lessons? Some people even use mineral turps and don't think about their impact on others in the room.
Yes I will write about Plein Air equipment soon, thanks for the idea. By the way, it is a box easel with a shoulder strap, anything less sturdy can blow over in the gusts of winds endemic to the Cape.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Hello Diane, I have just arrived at your site and this blue abstract is stunning! Sorry to hear of your reaction to these products...I had to give up oils and now I use Golden acrylics so I highly recomend them. As I was looking through your blog, I was touched by your Oct. 29th post about "Keeping an Art Journal" as well as enjoying your slideshow. Intuitive painting is a rich experience, I'll enjoy stopping by in the future. Have you ever read "Life, Paint and Passion" by Michell Cassou and Stewart Cubley?

soulbrush said...

thanks for visiting my blog. is your grandchild here in the uk? 3 months old, how precious. nice view of the yacht club. i have to be so careful of certain inhalants too, take care.

Dianne McNaughton said...

Hi Blue Sky Dreaming, thanks for visiting! Golden acrylics are now available here in South Africa and I am really enjoying what I have tried out. I think acrylic or watercolour will now be my choice. Thanks for the book recommendation, I love good books on creativity! I have not seen it here, will have a look on Amazon, was it recently published?

Dianne McNaughton said...

Hi Soulbrush, thanks for visiting! Yes, my little granddaughter lives in Yorkshire, UK in a village to the east of Leeds.
You obviously live a very creative life and this is expressed well on your blog, I am going to enjoy following your postings!

Artistic Variety with Heather Selby said...

Hi Dianne,
Absolutely love this painting!

Can understand your reaction to the solvents used in oils - I have been using either acrylic or pastels for years now, as the smell of the oil paints themselves upsets me, nevermind the turps as well. The advice you've got on the Golden Products I've also taken note of, and will also be investigating. Love your blog - so much info!

Art with Liz said...

Everyone's said it all about this painting - just love it!

Carol Schiff Studio said...

Hi Dianne, I use liquin, but not with the results you have had. Only one time, when I was doing a 48x60 inch canvas did it bother me.

Your painting is wonderful. I am drawn to the abstract, but seldom try it. You make it look so easy!

Love following your paintings and those of the Cape Plein Air groupit is so nice to have this connection around the world!

Suzanne McDermott said...

PS. I wanted to plug M. Graham, one of the best (if not THE best) companies that adheres as best as possible to earth friendly practices in the manufacture of their paints. Their watercolors are incomparable. An 8-person (and one cat) group in the US Northwest, their products cannot be beat. Visit M. Graham.

Sharon Wright said...

How on earth did you simplify such a complex subject? And with such stunning, superb results. I am gobsmacked and awestruck!
Sorry you have had a problem, hope you feel better now? I have the same problem with turps and white spirit, so I use Liquin and walnut oil all the time, with no adverse effects that I have noticed.
Better be safe, Dianne,your paintings are amazing whatever the medium!

Dianne McNaughton said...

Thanks to Heather, Liz, Carol, Suzanne and Sharon for joining in with this discussion. I had a look at the M Graham site, Suzanne, thanks for the link, their products look and sound great. This sharing of information has been so beneficial to us all, I am amazed at how different we all are in our reactions to oils and their mediums.
Thanks so much to all of you that have left comments here.

soulbrush said...

the mandala clock on my blog was 'given' to me by marianne who lives in holland and is a mandala expert. she writes her comments to me in dutch and i write back in afrikaans and we understand each other's fun. this clock shows the exact time in each blogger's country, it's a special 'widget' you can is beautiful. hugs

Dianne McNaughton said...

Thanks, Soulbrush! I have downloaded a lovely clock, I find it amazing that it shows the correct time in each country! Wow! My one has dolphins swimming around a colour wheel, lovely! I am also fascinated by mandalas and will visit Marianne's blog.
Mineke Reinders is also Dutch, living in the USA, we have also communicated in Afrikaans/Dutch.

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

Hello Dianne - found you via Sharon who visits my blog. So glad I popped in as I adore your work - the title of your blog was the original attraction. Then to my surprise I see you have had an exhibition at Kirstenboch. I WAS THERE LAST SEPTEMBER when I visited south Africa for 5 weeks and did a lot of travelling. So I know exactly what the exhibition space is like. Needless to say I painted some of the extraordinary Proteus blooms. I also came across the weaver birds in my travels - even enormous nests on telegraph poles up near the Namibia border that are used by 'community weaver birds'. Great to find you and your blog and to hear about your fantastic workshop. I use acrylics, watercolours and oils - and will certainly stay clear of the problem solvent.

Dianne McNaughton said...

Dear Joan, thanks so much for visiting my blog. I am glad you found my postings interesting, especially since you were in SA last year. You sound as if you did quite a bit of travelling, even getting up to Namibia. Hope you will visit my blog again.

Lynette said...

Dianne, that is so scary and I am definitly going to stick to painting with acrylics after reading about your experience with liquin. I absolutely love your painting, it's a breath-taking beauty in blue!

Dianne McNaughton said...

Dear Lynette, there seem to be oil products out there that are less toxic, but I havn't yet heard of anybody having a reaction to acrylics and their mediums? I am super-sensitive to anything toxic -I great drunk on one glass of wine so I think I have a good "Toxicity" barometer! I have had no ill effects, even painting with my body parts, which I must admit I can't resist doing!!

marianne said...

OMG I would never use this again if I were you!
I only paint in acrylic so I don´t have any toxic things around me ( I hope...)
The blue painting is wonderful however, I can see you have painted this at a marina! Such a marine feeling to this.

Dianne said...

Marianne, you are so right to stear clear of the toxic stuff and stick to your acrylics! Thanks for the comments re my boat painting, my last oil painting, EVER!

mrs. tioli said...

I'm slow to respond to this but I wanted to add a couple of ideas for you.

Liquin is made with regular turpentines, so it doesn't help to use low-odor products with it. I use liquin a lot, but only in outdoor areas. If I have a painting in the car on the way home, the windows stay down.

I also make a homemade liquin. It is runnier, not so gel-like, but it cuts costs, and better yet, can be made with low-odor turp. Here's the recipe.

Homemade Oil Painting Medium:

1/3 thickened linseed oil
1/3 odorless turpentine or mineral spirits
1/3 damar varnish
7 drops cobalt drier (toxic, don't sniff it or touch it...)

I mix this in a large jar and it lasts forever.

One of our plein air painters uses just the cobalt drier, straight, and seems to like his results (other than the bluish tinge!) I am reluctant to try this as we don't know what happens to the work over time, or to the painter...

Your results on this painting are fantastic. The depth and glassiness are characteristics that I've only been able to achieve, so far, with oils.

Dianne said...

Dear Charlie, thanks so much for this recipe - I will hand it around to my fellow plein air friends as the majority paint in oils.
Unfortunately, I have been completely put off painting in oils myself. I hadn't used them for a while, but started using them to complete the Legacy painting and then was enjoying the feel of them again - over a four week period I was getting these weird spasms in my head and not relating them to the oils at all. After my "toxic" reaction, I have also experienced areas of numbness on my skin, e.g. from my left eyebrow to the back of my head, I have a strip of skin that feels anaesthetised, also on my leg.
The spasms went away as soon as I stopped using the oils, the numbness is slowly receeding. This all has really freaked me out about using oil paints at all. I have made a decision to go with the acrylics and really experiment with their capabilities, since I have no adverse reactions with the paints or the mediums.
I so value what you have to say, Charlie, looking forward to your next posting.
Love Dianne x x