Saturday, January 10, 2015


If you are an oil painter, it's good to know, that toxic solvents can be avoided for painting and for cleaning. Using cheap oil, rugs and home made laundry soap and warm (not hot) water can be an effective way to clean your brushes. For painting many painters use nowadays only raw linseed oil for thinning their paints or other oil. I like poppy seed oil and safflower oil, because they are safe to use with light colors. 

The main reason why some artists become sensitive to oil painting, is not because of the paint but because of the toxicity of traditional mediums. Oil paints are relatively non-hazardous in themselves. Unless you eat them or let them come into contact with your skin.

Traditional mediums evaporate very fast releasing toxic vapors which cause health problems. Aromatic solvents like gum or mineral turpentine will affect your health with years of regular use because you cannot escape the fumes. Using toxic solvents and mediums in public shared spaces is like passive smoking. Ultimately it is best to avoid these types of solvents.

Though if you still need to use solvents, odourless mediums and solvents are based on fast drying alkyd resins which out perform ‘traditional’ mediums and are better for health. They evaporate much more slowly than turpentines so that less vapour is generated during a painting session. They do, however, evaporate over time, and the problem with odorless solvents is that artists often forget that they are still toxic. Drying racks as well as work spaces still need to be ventilated and painters in lofts should not recirculate the same studio air in living and sleeping areas because a slow vapour build up could become toxic. 

Friday, September 26, 2014


A discussion with Australian painter Christine Aerfeldt made me come to some conclusions about my own practice and about painting in general. Christine wrote on her blog how she became the slave of her studio, because her style and technique require succesive layers of paint, which take a long time and continue effort to complete. I replied that  I went through a time I didn't paint at all anymore, as I didn't find any pleasure in it, I had to make myself to do it, and this didn't feel right. But I rememebered that when I touched the oil paint for the first time, when I was a child, I was an alla prima painter. My idol was Van Gogh. I did then a series of portraits of my best friend. It didn't cross my mind to work from photo, I didn't even own a camera. My friend didn't want to sit long hours, so I had to work fast. I produced some interesting portraits, which I rediscovered recently in my friend's home. I had to relearn to paint alla prima after I painted in layers most of my life, for the life painting classes I teach. I rediscovered the pleasure of panting spontaneously. Large brushes and a huge amount of paint make everything so enjoyable. Christine answer was: "I so know what you mean about losing the pleasure in painting. I went through that too, a while back and realised I was trying to paint like somebody that I wasn't. Yes, you've got to be true to yourself and make the work that feels right. It's funny how going back to one's childhood or adolescent experiences of early art making can be so informative. I've also found myself reminiscing about what I was making as a teenager and thinking of taking a few lessons from myself." So in the end, you always have to paint how you feel, the painting has to complete your own nature, and not to go against it. You look at the Masters and get inspired by them, and go through school to learn about all different styles, you try to paint the best you can, experimenting with different techniques. But in the end you just find yourself getting back to your own style, you started with, all along, the one which is true to your real nature.

Christine Aerfeldt, Oil on Canvas

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Margaret Woodward was born in Sydney in 1938. She liked to study so she completed various degrees at the National Art School, Sydney Technical College, University of Western Australia, Sydney Teacher's College and University of New England. Margaret also traveled extensively and it is said that all these trips have provided much of the imagery for her paintings and her graphic work. And though I see her work more intimate and related to inner self and to herself as a woman. Sometimes you need to travel far to be able to find yourself. 

Margaret Woodward life drawing with Charles Blackman:

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Schitu Bran


"Open Heart" Teahouse Brasov

Towards Omu Peak, Bucegi Mountains


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


   Michael Borremans in his studio photographed by Didier Verriest

Michael Borremans (b. 1963) is considered to be one of the most accomplished painters of the last decades. His figures are beautifully rendered in a technique that reminds of the Old Master, but the ambiguos, mysterios tone of his paintings places him into contemporaneity. 

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