Saturday, November 14, 2009

Milton Glaser Draws and Lectures


Here is a great short video by Miton Glaser where he speaks about the importance of your ability to draw if you are pursuing any kind of artistic endeavor. Thanks to Jo Castillo for sharing this link on her blog.

This takes me back to my first year in art school in 1971 where we were required to attend two full days of drawing each week throughout that year. We had two different instructors and class one was for realistic, tight drawing where we set up still life, or had models, or sometimes had to draw from memory. Photographs and using a ruler were never allowed.

The second class was for expressive drawing where we were always chastised for tight mechanical drawings and always encouraged to loosen up and be more expressive.

In order to complete the hand in assignments for each class I had to draw every day throughout the 7 days of the week which was not a bad thing. We also were required to use many types of medium such as conte, chalk, and inks as well as charcoal, pencil, and sometimes even ball point pen or a brush.

The point here is that if you can draw well, you an do almost anything when it comes to art. Drawing truly is the foundation of all good artworks.

One of the books we were required to buy in first year was Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain which in my opinion is the best book ever written on the subject. Betty Edwards goes through a good deal of very good exercises to do that will make you better at drawing, and is well worth getting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Safety-What Every Artist Should Be Concerned About

Half Mask Air Purifying Respirator
Image Source Wikimedia
Public Domain

Nothing in this article should be considered as medical advice. However in my last job, one of the hats that I wore was Safety Specialist where I was knowledgeable in WHMIS (Canada) HMIS (US) TDG, and researched and purchased a wide variety of personal protection products on a regular basis.

One of the common comments I hear from artists who paint in Oils is the odor of Mineral Spirits which most oil painters use on a regular basis. Many choose to use odorless Mineral Spirits which are less harmful, but lets face it you are still breathing the vapors whether you smell them or not.

Mineral spirits of any kind contain Aromatic Hydrocarbons, a basic solvent. Acute or Chronic exposure to breathing the vapors in an environment which is not well ventilated can cause headache, dizziness and in extreme cases has an effect on the nervous system similar to a state of narcosis.

Some artists also believe that a simple dust mask will protect them against inhalation of the vapors given off by Mineral Spirits, but this is a false belief. A dust mask does not conform to the face, which allows the vapors to enter at the sides of the mask or under the chin. The only dust mask that might be adequate is the North N95 mask which has a form fitting foam core that provides a tighter fit.

The better option for your personal protection particularly if you are doing any burning where fumes are created, such as burning designs on a gourd, is to use either a full face, or a half mask air purifying respirator as shown in the image at the beginning of this post.

The air purifying respirator particularly with the silicone face piece fits snugly on the face (clean shaven, no beards allowed), and prevents the inhalation of harmful vapors, and is a very affordable personal protection device.

The hard reality however is that the air purifying respirator is not exactly comfortable to wear, and many would choose not to wear it.

The best solution with regard to mineral spirits, is to not use them at all. After all, oil painters hundreds of years ago managed to work with oil paints without the use of any kind of solvents. An excellent article on this subject can be found by clicking this link Oil Painting Without Solvents. I decided recently to start painting in oils, and I have bought some walnut oil, and will try to avoid solvents as I find that I am sensitive to them.

The best practice is to read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) which the vendor must supply on demand at time of purchase. Or you can find the MSDS for pretty much any kind of hazardous product on the Internet.

So in closing, take precautions and protect your health from the hazardous products that you might be using.

Below are a couple of quick links where you can purchase a respirator online at a reasonable cost.

North Half Mask Respirator

North N95 Particulate Mask

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