Process

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At first, when my daughter and I started splashing our paint water onto the sidewalk, we did it discreetly.  Hid our splashes under a leaf.  Then one day we noticed how pretty the dried pigment looked, and grew bolder, as you see here.  The color has faded a bit~time to add more color.  You see, some years ago I grew concerned about putting paint water down the drain.  The paint company assures us it is perfectly safe, but I could not find anywhere exactly what they were putting into their paints, and hence what I would be putting into the drain which would find itself into Lake Michigan.  I cast about for a solution because we produce A LOT of paint water.  Some artists wipe their brushes on paper towels first.  Great.  Now trees have to die so I can paint?  I don’t think so.  It occurred to me that if I put the water on the pavement, the water would evaporate out and leave the pigment behind.  Ah ha!  I don’t think that hurts anything.  A pretty sidewalk is a happy by-product!  🙂

Perhaps you’d like a peek at the painting I’m working on:

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It is a horrible photo.  The canvas is a large one, always a challenge, and we’re having thunderstorms this morning so the light isn’t the best.  I really liked how the log looked, peacefully decaying amidst the savanna plants.  It should be done by next week, and I’ll show it to you then.

20 Comments

  1. You’d have to live in a hot country for the water to evaporate and leave the pigment behind. Not so sure it would be the case here in wet and rainy England, ha -ha. The paint would just wash into the gutter drains anyway. I have no idea how to overcome that. I love the way your painting looks. It’s beautiful!

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      1. I’ve heard you mention coffee many times, but as far as I recall, this is a first for Bach. Do you like listening to his music in general, or for inspiration with a certain kind of painting?

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      2. I’m a big fan of Bach, and I’ve noticed that when I’m stuck the orderliness of his music seems to help me see more clearly. When the work is flowing, then it is Barbra Streisand. I’ve heard that other artists work this way as well. I think it helps us turn off the verbal side of our brain so the visual side can take charge. It isn’t necessary but definitely beneficial.

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  2. Well, some of us have to use paper towels, although a roll will last for two or three weeks. Shaking off brushes that have been in solvent is frowned on, and pouring varnish-saturated solvents on the ground or into the water would bring out the Texas General Land Office so fast it would make your head spin. I’d rather not tempt them — I couldn’t afford the fine, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let me blog from jail. Watercolor water is one thing, but there’s no hiding the spread of diesel, varnish, or solvents on the water. The best solution is to dry brushes with paper towels, and let old varnish-heavy solvent solidify in its jar before throwing it away as a solid lump.

    The pastel colors of the concrete are pretty, but I’m curious — don’t the rains simply wash them out anyway?

    I like the painting. My favorite detail so far is the gathering of large leaves just above the center. There’s just “something” about them that appeals.

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    1. Thank you Linda.
      I certainly wasn’t referring to you, who must work with some serious materials. And I’m certainly not advocating materials be poured on ground or water! I was talking about water from acrylics, and only on pavement so it can evaporate. The pigments have lasted on the pavement far longer than I expected but it is fading from rains and foot traffic. Ultimately what I want to do is switch to oil paint. I’ve sourced a company that harvests pigments from the earth in a sustainable manner, and then I mix them with black walnut oil. I was told by another artist I can then simply use baby oil to clean my brushes, no need for turpentine. I’m excited at the prospect of having a cleaner studio in that regard. I’ve been waiting until I finished a number of canvases I’ve started over the years already in acrylic but I suppose I can simply finish them in oil.

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  3. I look forward to your finished painting. I guess it’s hard to be completely certain about the environmental impact of paint water but it seems that you are doing your best to minimise any potential impact. Modern paint water is probably relatively benign compared to nasties like cigarette butts which are everywhere. 😦

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    1. There are so many chemicals in everything we use, and when they hit water they bond together in unpredictable and un-tested ways, we should all be very concerned. Labels telling us our products are benign are flat out lies, put there to satisfy powerful lobbies. I know I sound like an alarmist and a conspiracist, but I’ve read so much from reliable sources that I’ve grown quite concerned.

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