Saturday, 1 August 2015

Just watch where you put your brushes

Just a short post, which many of you might feel is a little odd, misplaced and not really that important, but I feel it is. I believe that I have to blog about this in case there are any artists out there who are doing the same without realising, especially those who are new to botanical art. Once again I appear to have ingested too much paint. You'll be pleased to know that I have managed to re-train my brain to stop sucking my brushes, but I am still known for gripping the handles of my brushes with my teeth (like a dog with a bone). When I paint I often have four brushes on the go, sometimes more. One wet with nothing on it, a harsh 'mixing brush' and then two with paint, often different shades of green. So I put one behind each ear and one in my teeth while I paint with the other. Painting on a drawing board means I don't put them 'down' and to be honest, I realise now that these problems all started when I got Derek Drew the drawing board back in 2013.

James Sowerby's illustrations of gems and minerals (18th Century)
What I am probably suffering from is a build up of metals from years of working in potteries, garages and museums whilst also painting. My work in museums probably really didn't help as I was working in the geology section and frequently worked with minerals such as cinnabar, arsenic, erythrite and galena. I also worked on herbarium specimens which are often covered in mercury and release mercury vapour and entomology collections that are poisoned with naphthalene. I also worked in a lab for a summer as a cytologist using naphthalene, which is a really nasty substance known to stop cell division. My poor body!

Anyway, needless to say, despite not sucking my brushes or working in a museum I still seem to be ingesting metal through the water along the shaft of my brush handles. As I am dry brush worker, I rarely dip my brush dip all the way into the water, but the other day I did and the consequences were diabolically bad. I felt very confused, off balance and delirious. It was, and still is, pretty frightening. I often wonder if this is what happened to Van Gogh and if it wasn't just the wormwood. Anyway, feeling pretty angry at myself for being so utterly stupid and I am now re-training the way I use my brushes AGAIN and this is tricky - one gets so absorbed into the painting that one looses their awareness. Of course, added to this, I use all the toxic colours... Aureolin, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Hookers Green, Olive Green, Sap Green and New Gamboge. I especially love my Daler Cobalt Blue and think it's that that's doing it as the 'crazy' feeling is always worse when I am painting bluer plants, like Hostas and Brassicas and I always have the feeling when painting something green.

Anyway, needless to say I am going to invest in some of this

Looks pretty cool. I am thinking of putting it on the drawing board and sticking mini magnets (which they also sell) inside the rubber so I can 'hook' the brushes onto it. In the meantime I will be eating as much coriander as I can find and lowering my alcohol consumption considerably! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jess

    Glad you are aware - take care. I hope the sugru works for you.
    The following is not meant to be alarmist but may also be of interest to your readers

    Symptoms of cobalt toxicity
    Up until recently cobalt toxicity was largely an industrial issue relating to workers habitually exposed to cobalt dust from drilling or polishing. Inhalation of cobalt dust is known to cause respiratory problems including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma and pulmonary fibrosis.
    Cobalt dust can also cause irritation of the eyes and prolonged contact with cobalt can cause sensitisation and is the second most common cause of contact dermatitis after nickel. Accidental ingestion can also cause abdominal pain and vomiting. 
    Cobalt has been confirmed to be a carcinogen in animal studies and is considered a possible carcinogen in humans. It is also known to be toxic to aquatic organisms and to bioaccumulate up the aquatic food chain.
    Here are just some of the metal toxicity symptoms associated with cobalt poisoning:
    Vertigo and problems with balance
    Poor memory and cognitive function
    Tinnitus and hearing problems including deafness
    Visual impairments including blindness
    Cardiomyopathy (where the heart becomes ineffective at pumping blood), thickening of the blood and heart failure. In 1966, cobalt added to Canadian beer to stabilise the foam caused widespread 'beer drinker's cardiomyopathy'.  
    Peripheral neuropathy with tremors and loss of coordination
    Kidney failure and
    Anxiety and irritability.

    Some of these symptoms may seem minor & not linked to paint, but could serve as a warning