More info on that Lead White thing…

I’ve been doing a bit more digging, trying to see if I can find any more evidence that the white pigment in my pastels is not Lead White — given that the word of any one person, even someone beloved, is not proof.

This (eventually) lead me to a document called Where Lead Hides.  If that link is unavailable, there is a mirror, here, with a slightly different attribution.  I’ve found that Lead White is actually not lead oxide, but a different compound.  If you search “lead white” on Google (without quotations), you’ll find a lot of links.  In my case, the chemical composition of Lead White is not really what I’m looking for, so a lot of those links, I haven’t read.

In any case, I followed a couple of links from the above PDF(s).  One of them was dead and led me back to a page at a different URL, where I didn’t immediately see a substitute for the article mentioned in said PDF (which was dated 2006, I believe?)

Apparently it was supposed to mention how “asbestos, contaminated talc, lead and cadmium pigments” were used in pastels.  I already knew about asbestos — the old pigment made from ground malachite (which I don’t know the name of; “malachite green” likely refers to a different chemical compound), I’d grown up thinking contained asbestos fibers (like Falcon’s Eye and Tiger Eye — or so I thought), but doesn’t list this as a particular reason to avoid it.  Instead, they cite the possible toxicity of the copper content (in the vein of lapidary/sculpture though, not as a pigment).  Talc is something that at this point I’m not using on my skin, because I know there’s a salient danger of asbestos contamination.  Cadmium, I know about — cadmium pigments (not their replacements, or “Hues,” but e.g. Cadmium Red as versus Cadmium Red Hue) are toxic and can be absorbed through skin.

This is why I’m leaning toward the Rembrandt brand of pastels, should I really get into pastel painting or drawing; they use no cadmium, cobalt, or lead pigments, and say so.  Plus, I used (and loved) their White for a class a long time ago (2008 or so) and was just a little heartbroken when I tested it out this year and it shattered in my hand.

Lead is what I was searching for, though.

The other link given in the PDF, hit pay dirt.  That link is here:

…where it is stated that Lead White is illegal to use in pastels.  This was a big relief for me, because I had found that Flake White, or Lead White, is still in use in oil paints.  However, someone had a brain and excluded them from use in pastels, probably because it’s too easy for the particles to become airborne and travel everywhere.

In any case…it looks like I’ve got all the links worked out so they’re functional, hopefully.  I’m going to go on the belief that my white pastels are likely Titanium White and not Lead White, and that likely, the white that is used in my tints are Titanium, not Lead, White.  I should be able to keep digging, though.


Update on the “Occupational Hazards” track…

It’s been a while since I last mentioned occupational hazards as relating to art.  I’ve got some new information that I dug up over the holiday, which, at least, puts my mind more at ease.

For Xmas, I wanted a set of chalk pastels.  A senior student in my last drawing class recommended a certain store brand as a starter set — though at this point I am unclear whether she specifically recommended the harder, square pastels, or the soft chalk pastels.  I ended up getting the harder ones because of the color range and the price…

…I tried to write the math up here, but I’m concerned that it’s just confusing me, so I’ll hold off on that for now.  But — I got 48 pastels for about $15, as versus 12 for about $30.  So you can do the math, if you would like…

In any case, any art store I’ve gone to recently has a carcinogenicity warning on the pastels.  It started with the cadmium thing and has not gone away (though I have seen no more cadmium warnings, just generic fear-cancer warnings).

Luckily, the place I was buying my pastels from posts the MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets) on their site, and lists the colors affected.  The pastels I got had a Caution Label (CL) warning on them, saying that the color White was affected.

I looked up the MSDS when I got home, hoping that the pigment used in the pastels was not Lead White — but I heard from a relative that Lead White (lead oxide) would be illegal in my state.  Which is a good thing, because I think that lead oxide can be absorbed through the skin, though don’t quote me on that.

In any case, the MSDS given doesn’t state what the white pigment is, in the white pastels.  However, on doing some more digging, I found this link:

…which talks about the carcinogenicity warning being linked to Titanium Dioxide as a (white) pigment.  This is a forum link, but the members there are talking about the difference between “bound” and “unbound” Titanium Dioxide, and routes of exposure — apparently, “unbound” Titanium Dioxide is a carcinogen, when it is inhaled.  But if I don’t blow the pastel dust up into the air, and if I wear a particle mask and wet-mop up the dust, I’m probably fine.  No one go and blame me if you get cancer from following that protocol, I’m not a doctor, but — seriously?!  Titanium Dioxide?

I was concerned up until the point at which it was said the toxin was Titanium Dioxide.  This stuff is used in cosmetics, including face powders.  I used to use it all the time as a sunscreen.  Now whether that’s bound or unbound, I don’t know — but it does explain why my sunscreens now tend to say not to apply them to damaged skin.

So now that I know that the big baddie is Titanium Dioxide, which can’t be absorbed through intact skin, I think I can breathe a bit easier.  What seems to be the case is that anything which has been shown to have any carcinogenicity under any conditions at all, is labeled with a Prop 65 warning if any of it is in any art material, regardless of whether it is safe to work with under reasonable conditions.

I do know that many people blow pastel dust up into the air, but — this is a dangerous practice in general.  Pigments aren’t necessarily safe to breathe or ingest, especially when it’s considered that some traditional pigments (like that made of ground malachite) may contain things like asbestos fibers (malachite is carcinogenic because of this, regardless of the beauty of its hue).  When you blow pastel dust up into the air, it’s like asking it to get inside your lungs (or inside the lungs of the person downwind from you).  And once it gets in, it doesn’t necessarily get out.

Charcoal, being an organic pigment, is a bit safer, but inorganic compounds may not be able to be broken down by the body.

I just thought I’d update this track, because I especially pay attention to these warnings of potential carcinogens and toxins.  However, it doesn’t help to make people scared about things that they may be otherwise exposed to every day and which they can avoid exposure to with a bit of respect, and let other toxins go unlabeled because they’re under a daily exposure threshold which is determined I-don’t-know-how (I’m thinking here of those xylene-based markers that I love but don’t use because I know they’re toxic [I’ve gotten headaches from them before], and I don’t want to have to open all the windows to use them).

And while I’m on the subject of pastels — I should mention, at least for my own records, that the Krylon Workable Fixatif MSDS is available directly from Krylon…and used also with a modicum of respect, it also appears relatively OK.  Just don’t spray it in an enclosed space with no ventilation, or next to a heat source.  Clearly.  Just reasonable precautions should be enough.

With that, I’m being called away.  I thought though that I should add in another:  “I’m not a doctor, and this is not advice that should be relied upon for one’s safety.  Do the research yourself, and take necessary precautions.  No one is responsible for your health but you.”

It’s just that in my case, I’ve found that the law cannot always be relied upon to give a good sense of the relative hazards of materials…

Another image, this one from late in the semester:

This image is the one I was referring to as “Leap of Faith.”  I’m guessing it’s OK to share because of the fact that I got a drip on it.  😦  Sigh.  Wait, I thought I was supposed to be sharing my best images, not the ones I’m willing to let run free across the ‘Net?

This one, I can bear to set free.

I’m sure the drip is there because I changed direction with the hairspray at one side of the image, not off of the edge of the image.

Hopping from rock to rock along a pond.
Hopping from rock to rock along a pond.

Seriously, Aqua Net — on this scale — smells horrible.  I’ve gotten some Krylon Workable Fixatif, but have not used that yet.  I hear it’s worse.  If and when I use that, it will be outdoors.  The lizards can have fun with it.

…Actually, the lizards might die from it.  In any case, it will be outdoors.  🙂

I did get a set of chalk pastels (the hard ones) so that I can practice adding color to looser compositions like these, and so I can play with blending tones and working loose.  This one…began as a warm-up, but I decided I liked it enough to include it in my final portfolio.  It turned out to contain a metaphor which was useful for the class.

In memory of the little silver plants in the backyard…

I thought I’d get on actually uploading some shots of what I did during last semester.  It would be nice to actually have some images on here, (even if blurry and in poor lighting)…

This is the source photo used for the prior drawing.  This was from the beginning of the semester.
This is the source photo used for the drawing to the right.  This was from the beginning of the semester.
In memory of the little silver plants in the backyard...
You can tell that I took this photo on a rainy day.  There should be new growth popping up soon, even though these little guys got mowed over…

Report on yesterday :D

Not much new to report today, except for the fact that I’ve found that when I have some of my friends over for Xmas, too, it makes it a whole lot more fun!  It’s been a while since I’ve hung out with anybody who was especially “my” friend (as versus family), and I was able to make a little enclave where we could play and wouldn’t be bothered.

Someone did get me the Nicolaïdes text, which was happy-making if only for the fact that now I don’t have to decide whether it’s worth the money or not.  The person who gave it to me said that it had been recommended to him when he was in college.  🙂  So now, really, all that is required of me is to follow the regimen, if I want.  And, I suppose, nothing says that I must complete it in one year…

…though it may be tempting to let go of my classes and use the text on its own, you know?  IDK.  Last semester was relaxing if only for the reason that I only had two classes, one of which I didn’t care about very much, and I had part-time work on top of that.  Next semester, I’m looking at three classes, two of which are foundational, one of which may be useful-but-not-timely, and then part-time work (I’m looking at 19 hours) along with, possibly, the Nicolaïdes text.  And trying to figure out if I really do want to be an Illustrator, and if so, of what?  Adult or teen Graphic Novels?  Kids’ books?

That’s a lot to have on my plate, especially considering that I haven’t decided whether to pursue the writing professionally, as well as the art — or instead of the art.  And also considering that my body needs a certain amount of rest every night to avoid being wiped out the next day.

I’ve found that my boss wants me to keep to a very high standard of timeliness — shelving an average of one cart every 20 minutes at a minimum, 30 minutes per cart maximum — which means that I can’t correct everything on the shelf, and nor can I get distracted by titles (though the latter’s usually not an issue).  I also have to use one or another system of making sure I’m not shelving another library’s books (I’m not sure my present system is time-effective), and to make sure I’m shelving things in the right section (particularly where it comes to New books).  I’ve been at that level before; it’s just that I’ve gotten a bit lax and have been correcting things instead of shelving as fast as I can.

I spent most of today asleep, which I gave myself permission to do, considering that I was in contact with someone yesterday who hugged me and then said they were having fever and chills.  😡  So right now…I’m still OK, but I have been sneezing.  Which doesn’t really make much sense, considering that I vacuumed all over the house last night.

Well, maybe it does make some sense…I did forget to change my clothes before I slept.  And the heater has been running, and we haven’t changed or washed the filters on the vents.

But in any case, it was really fun to have friends over yesterday.  We got to play games and draw.  And then I got to see my uncle and talk to him about art and stuff.  🙂  And the one dude who I dislike didn’t bother me or my friends, and that was really nice.  I’d been concerned, but he was hands-off, which was really a good thing.

It’s kind of funny — we kind of sectioned ourselves off into sub-groups, so there was the youth group with me, and then Mom’s friends, and then Dad’s family and their people — and then my siblings, who were busy cooking.  Then we went to see my uncle later, and it was really nice to catch up with him, too.  By the time the night was over, and everything was cleaned up, it was 2 AM — which explains in part why I was in bed for most of today!

In any case, yesterday was a great success.  I was happy, even though I was part of the “entertaining” group.  🙂  It’s just nice to have people over who you know aren’t going to try and hurt you, you know?  I have some really sweet friends, I think.  And I can build on that little foundation…

Two things:

One:  I just came off of watching the third episode of a mini-series called “Superheroes:  A Never-Ending Battle” which I took note of precisely because of my last entry — my mind was still oriented in the direction of comics/graphic novels, and this fit right in.  Spirits tellin’ me somethin’, eh?

Two:  If I use more than 15 tags+categories, it’s probable that my posts won’t show up on the Reader, and both are used in the Reader’s algorithms.  Just learned that today.  I was wondering what was going on…

As regards the first, it looks like comics will be moving in the digital direction in the future.  This is good to know, because it means that if I do want to do comics illustration, I will need to have the digital background, going forward.  This also means that it is entirely reasonable not to go for a Studio Art MFA and instead go for Digital Media certification at my present school.  I would likely be using an IPad or tablet computer, but that seems to be where things are going now, as well.

And now I wonder about the Animation track?

In any case, Drawing and Painting will be useful, especially Figure Drawing and Portraiture, both of which I’ve avoided because of the difficulty level, and the fact that I can get stuck in a rut of character drawings.  (And I’m not kidding when I say I can get stuck in a rut — it’s a reason I took Intermediate Drawing this last semester.  TOO MUCH ANIME.)  But hey, I’m really only three courses into the Art Certificate, and I don’t have to stay there.  But I want to learn to paint and draw for real, anyway, in addition to on computer.  I just don’t want to be like one of my friends who can draw on computer, but as most things go, not by hand.

Also, if I’m going in this direction — I’m going to want to start to write and block out and manage scripts…not the easiest thing.  If I’d done Screenwriting, it would have been easier, but that wasn’t a specialty offered at my University.  There is a Scriptwriting class offered at my current school, though — even though it’s more geared toward Digital Video Production.  I’ll have to check that out.

After the big switch over to Windows 8 at the beginning of next year, I do want to try some of the newer graphics programs…I just have entirely no idea as to whether my tablet (no LCD screen) will work with any of it, or if I’ll have to get a tablet computer.

As regards the second thing I mentioned above:  sorry for the misplaced posts — I am just still learning how to use WordPress.  I did end up “Following” myself just so that I can make sure things are actually working!  *sighs*

Coming off of cleaning my room — I mean, being inspired to continue with the art…

OH my gosh.

All right, so I now have one day–!  One full complete day to make more than two Christmas cards.  I would have worked on them today, but M had other plans, and told me to clean my room.  I can see her point.  Sure, I just cleaned it a week ago, but there was still a layer of dust over everything.  And when I put my paper pad (the gigantic Sketch one I got in 2002 as a freebie — I know, it can be hard to keep track of all of them) down on the floor to dust the desk, I found an ant (!  WHY?!) crawling on it when I went to pick it up.  So then at least I realized that yes, I did have to actually clean, because the stupid ants are looking for warmth and food, and we have to make ourselves too discouraging to invade.

The ants have been just sporadically everywhere, even where there is no food to be had.  It’s really irritating.  And like I said before, they had found their way into the pantry, which was also annoying, because then a bunch of food had to be thrown out.

But ANYWAY…!  Anyway, I was messing around online when I was supposed to be cleaning (hey — I did vacuum, change my sheets, straighten up, and dust, along with letting light and air in, and I did start my laundry), and I found one input on social media which caused me to believe that following their articles can be a VERY VERY GOOD thing.  I find myself inspired to continue on with the Art, now that I see where it can lead.

I also realize that the Nicolaides text that was recommended in one of my classes may be not a great fit for me at the moment.  This was a book called The Natural Way to Draw, which basically is like preschool for artists.  It’s a manual which takes a year to complete if one draws for three hours a day.  Crazy.  It was also published in 1941, though, so…I’m thinking that maybe it could be…well, not the best guide, in my particular case.  I’ve read that one can learn the same skills more efficiently without following his method.

The author wants one not even to read ahead in the book, which means that you’re undertaking three hours of practicing building-blocks of drawing a day without actually knowing what it is you’re building toward or whether you can really trust him when he claims you’ll draw better at the end.  OF COURSE YOU’LL DRAW BETTER.  That’s what happens when you draw for three hours a day.  Kidding me?

The question is, is his teaching method actually efficient (do you have to un-learn less), and are you going to like the drawings you’ll be able to make after that 1095-hour period of investment?  If not, it’s nobody’s fault but your own, because it was you who trusted him in the first place, and have now spent 1/8 of your life (3 hours/24 hours) for a year building to some place which you probably have no concept of when you start.  So what is the goal?  What is the drive?  Do I have that much faith in this teacher that I’ll trust that his way is the only way?

If you’ve read my backposts, you’ll see that I do actually have issues with trust…in trusting everything and everyone, even myself.  I don’t think that’s a bad way to be, though, as long as I can hold it in check.  But I don’t think I’ll be able to hold it in check for a year.

In any case, that book was discouraging me from drawing, so I’m thinking it’s best that I avoid it for now.  I have no problem building up 1095 hours of drawing, but I want it to be enjoyable and productive and not entirely made up of throwaway sketches.

I checked the book out of the library so I could read it before I bought it, and I’m very glad I did.  The danger of a book of that sort is the implied or direct statement, “my way is the best and/or only way, and you’re wasting your time otherwise.”  I did read something to the effect that budding artists would be wasting their time otherwise…at least this, unless it’s like the time I tried to read Orlando by Virginia Woolf and remembered, accurately or not, that it began with a very distasteful image if one were not white.  I really don’t know if I dreamed it or if I read it.  It would be easy enough to check out, but it was so enraging that I haven’t gotten stalwart enough to confirm it.  I don’t like being an angry person.

ANNND YEP — I didn’t imagine it.  Just checked.

But then, I did just run across a copy of The Mikado recently and saw — from the cover, even — an example of someone in the past writing about something which they knew nothing about and were unashamed to know nothing about…but I don’t really want to get into that either, especially since I now know the name of Koko the Gorilla may have been a (racist) Gilbert & Sullivan reference, possibly flattering to neither of the Ko(K)os.

But yes.  I don’t like to be an angry person.  This is why I left my first University.


Okay.  Back to the Art thing.  I switched into a Renaissance Art History class for next semester, away from Beginning Watercolor.  This is largely because it was recommended to me from multiple sources that I take Art History courses along with Studio Art courses.  It cleaned up my schedule, and since I’m taking Beginning Figure Drawing, it’s topically on-target, at least judging from what I have seen.  I should also probably stick with Drawing for now, because painting — especially watercolor painting — is probably on an entirely different level.  It would be best to work in acrylics or oils first, at least.

What I am unsure about is my reasoning behind taking Photoshop II.  Of course, I’d need to clean up my images to provide myself a substantial and attractive Web presence, even if I didn’t work in Digital Imaging.  And, of course, my last Photoshop class was at least six years ago.  But for a lot of people there, I’m thinking that their last Photoshop class will have been last semester.  I am not sure of the extent to which my skills have become outdated, and nor am I sure that the thing to do is to jump to the higher-level class, instead of attempting to repeat the lower-level one.  I’m sure CC is much different than CS3, and I’m concerned that things will be disproportionately difficult for me in a Photoshop CC — Level II class.

Of course, though, there’s also the possibility that there will be a lot of people like myself who have trained on older versions of the software and just want not to become obsolete, which is the entire demon in the door so far as things go.  Yes, I can train on digital media, but in 10 years, will my skills still be current?  Will I be trained on the new software on the job, or dumped for a fresher skill set?

This is why I’m opting for a straight Fine Arts emphasis to my training rather than focusing exclusively on Digital Media; I doubt anything is really ever going to replace a handworked drawing or painting (even if it is possible to print-to-canvas).

And that’s something that, unlike within my Jewelry foray, can’t be duplicated by mass production overseas.  I’m already familiar with the possibility of the show circuit, from my time when I thought I’d be a Jeweler.  It’s just that I need to be doing something unique and difficult-or-impossible to emulate, if I’m going to make a living as an artist, and not be priced out of living in the U.S.  Unless, that is, I work for a company as a Graphic Artist.  Also a possibility, but a less intriguing one from here.  The advantage would be, overall, what would seem to be a more financially stable life.  But I’d be doing someone else’s work, by definition, not my own.

And then there is the entire possibility of an MFA in Fine Arts, which could prepare me — if I were serious — for a career as a showing artist.  I hadn’t really even thought of it until M mentioned it while I was waiting to see the Academic Advisor.  I should check to see whether the University I’m looking at has requirements that I didn’t fulfill with my BA…

But I should take these classes and see what I can do with them, first, rather than trying to decide on a career path when I don’t have enough information on which to base my trajectory.  There’s always the possibility of working in Advertisement, which may be boring and possibly inane (if my disagreements with what I’ve seen as Marketing mindsets carry through and are more true than not — namely that it’s way too easy in Marketing to see cultural aggregates and the ideals people are told to hold, not actual people), but it gets the bills paid.

But what I’m actually looking at — is being an Illustrator, as things go now.  I think that could be way more culturally helpful than working in Advertising.  The thing is, just, I’m probably too rebellious for Disney-types.  But maybe some opportunities will crop up…

P.S.  OH!  And how could I forget the Graphic Novel aspirations?  Things to think on…