Judgment befalls the art supplies

So after dinner, tonight, I was able to separate out some art supplies I have and don’t want. Some of these things, I got from other people. There were also some things I reconsidered. The below is what I was going to give away but decided to keep, and why.

  • Chartpak markers

These markers are xylene-based and thus, toxic (and for me, anxiety-inducing). However…I tried coloring with them in a circular motion, as I had heard one needed to do with markers to avoid streaks. For some reason, they didn’t bleed severely, as I’ve known them to (it must have either been the paper, or their age). A bunch of these, I got for graphic design for my job.

On those grounds alone, I might keep them, just because I may need to make more signs.

However, what really got me is that they dried so slowly that the color…was really smooth. The strokes blended into each other. I decided to keep them because of this, and because I realized that I can put the work into the bathroom to dry, turn on the fan and leave the door open, to form a makeshift evacuation hood. It keeps the fumes from collecting and giving me a headache.

I’m also interested in what I can draw or paint on top of these.

  • Prismacolor black markers

The Prismacolors didn’t smell as noxious, today, as I remember them smelling. They’re alcohol markers, and when used like I used the Chartpaks, they cover the paper really well. I’m curious about what I can draw on top of them.

  • Copic Cool Grey markers (in multiple intensities)

I decided to keep these alcohol markers after I got out my marker paper and tested a couple of Copics like I had tested the Prismacolor and Chartpak markers. Copics are basically a serious investment (they cost upwards of $3 each for the cheapest models, on sale), and the major drawback to having the ones I have, is that they’re all the same color. But…on the off chance that I do start illustrating again, they’ll be nice to have around. Especially to do grisaille (a greyscale drawing) under other (Copic) colors.

  • Faber-Castell Polychromos Grey set

I was going to get rid of these colored pencils, until I found some test marks I had made on black paper. They…are interesting, on dark backgrounds. The upshot of using light colors on dark paper is the fact that you get to paint in the lights, instead of the shadows. Because I’ve been wanting to deal with awareness of negative space and balance between positive and negative space, my interest in these, I think, will help me grow.

  • Rembrandt grey soft pastels (multiple shades and tints)

Same thing, here. I figured that if I was going through my toxic stuff and keeping some of it, why not keep these? The big issue here is dust and nanoparticles. I did keep my ArtGuard barrier cream for my hands…and I’ve never even tried using it to keep the pigments out of my skin (though the greys I have, don’t stain). I can try using this, and see then if I still want to get rid of these guys. The darker greys, in particular, are beautiful on black paper, and the whites are intense, on same.

Rembrandts are also a brand I trust, although I have seen some Caution Label warnings about some of the “shade” colors (shades are pigments mixed with black). I’m thinking that the warnings are because the black is likely carbon (I’m reading Lamp Black) and may be contaminated with creosote. Generally when that’s even a remote possibility, the pastels get tagged with a “Cancer!” label. (That’s in addition to anything with Titanium White in it, being tagged with a Prop 65 label, when Titanium Dioxide is nontoxic and only a mechanical danger.)

That’s just a guess, though. On looking deeper, I’m finding that Lamp Black itself may be classified as a possible carcinogen, and that it’s weakly toxic.

If it’s just the black that’s a problem, though…I’ll try the barrier cream!

  • Derwent Watercolor Pencil set

These are just too nice to give away. Selling them is something else. I have a set of Supracolor aquarelle pencils I was going to replace them with, but I’ve found my Neocolors (by the same company, Caran d’Ache) not to age very well. If the Supracolors (made with the same pigments as the Neocolors?) are going to appear dull over time, and I’m giving away the Neocolors, I might want the Derwents as a backup.

  • Japanese Pentel brush pen

This thing is just neat. It’s a pen with an ink reservoir as a handle, and synthetic hairs at the tip. I realized what was wrong is just that the tip needed to be wet because the thing on the whole is drying out. But I still have a refill for this, and it makes my kanji look awesome, so I’m keeping it.

There are a bunch of things I’m getting rid of. I’m just not sure it’s worth it, to list them. However, there are a number of paints — some acrylic, some watercolor — which I don’t have a need for, anymore, or which are poor quality. I’m not sure if some of them can be saved (for example, by mixture with an acrylic medium), or if they’re just unrecoverable garbage.

I’m getting rid of a large pencil wallet which breaks pencils (but might be good for pens), a couple of sets of sketching pencils (I have enough graphite), two sets of Pentel oil pastels (one of which is unopened), a large collection of Neocolor II water-soluble oil pastels, some Neocolor I waterproof oil pastels, and some scholastic-level markers. Also, there are some colored pencil duplicates that have nothing in particular wrong with them.

I might also try and pawn off one of our two sets of Prang watercolor paints, here. And I have a number of watercolor palettes…which I probably am not going to use, all at the same time (though I might surprise myself).

The tough thing I found, tonight, is that the stuff I want to get rid of is the stuff that isn’t in my face. I’ve recently reorganized, and so I have art supplies which haven’t proven themselves yet to be inferior, in front of me.

Now, as for the question of which of these mediums I’m actually going to use…and in the near future, at that?

…that’s a tougher question.

Advertisements

One pressure valve, released. Two to go.

I can say that today, I gave myself a break from studying. I also reorganized a good section of my art and craft supplies, and me being me, I realized that I have way more than enough stuff to play with. And if one mode of expression isn’t working out, as things currently stand, I can switch to a different medium.

Also, though: I now have 29 different Fat Quarters (quarter-yards of fabric) to work with. Actually, I have 31, but am probably not going to use a solid or the fabric I bought today which I found was screenprinted! The solid was for embroidery practice…and now that I think of it, I have some of it stretched on a hoop around here, somewhere. The other, I really liked, but on getting it home realized that…it’s not at all what I thought it was (the upshot is that I only lost $1 on it, and I can use it for a wall hanging or something).

I have also realized that it’s possible to make a quilt top with nothing more than Fat Quarters and Jelly Rolls (long strips of fabric). And that libraries are sometimes (much) better sources of books than Amazon, because Amazon seems to run on what’s popular more than what’s useful.

So, my last major assignment for Reference Services (the Research Guide thing) went well, though I was up late working on it, and didn’t get to bed until early morning. I had basically been working on it really hard-core for at least three days, which is probably the reason that I barely thought at all about my other two classes, today.

I still have to take my Final in my Database class, which means I should study. Even though the Mock Final was easy, it was also ungraded and just a study aid, so I don’t know if my answers were correct. I’ll want to make sure I can confidently answer the questions, before I start. If I’m lucky, it will take around 30 to 45 minutes. I would like to do that before the material becomes too stale in my memory.

The other thing I have to do is depersonalize my Instructional Design proposal, and make an example of something I would use in my proposed Instructional Unit. That shouldn’t be too hard, and I already have something in mind (a timeline of the evolution of thought around gender variance in the U.S.), but that will likely take more energy than I would like to put into it, considering it’s due so soon.

It’s easy for me to conceptualize what happened in what order, but pinning down hard dates is going to be much more difficult…unless I hardcore utilize some history texts, or contact a nearby Historical Society.

In the meantime, what I’ve started to do is reorganize all of my art supplies and storage, which might get me to use it again. My problem is that things are put away out of sight, and then I forget that I have them. They just become furniture. A bunch of 11″x14″ pads of paper, I’ve moved to the place where I stored my ArtBins, while the ArtBins are now under the craft table. My charcoals and Conté crayons and pastels, I also found tonight. They have an allure — maybe from the fact that they get my hands dirty.

(Though a bunch of my Conté sticks are missing. I’m not entirely sure where I put them — unless they’re with the rest of my unused pastels and charcoals, and there’s a good chance they are. However…being earthtone, they’re best for drawing people’s bodies…which isn’t what I’m inspired by.)

I actually have a set of 10 NuPastels and a set of Sargent Art hard pastels, the latter of which have never been used. The thing about NuPastels is that I know some of those colors are staining…which isn’t really comforting, unless you like that kind of thing (and it is possible to like it). I liked the stained fingertips, before I thought about it a bit (I’m fairly certain the culprit was Phthalo Blue. I still have those little guys [the blue NuPastels]).

The other thing is that they need to be sealed, but I’m not as against using fixative now that I know what I’m doing and also that I don’t have to do it. I’m not forced to do it for a class, that is. My biggest question is trying to figure out if I have the appropriate cartridges for my respirator (I would need “organic vapor and mists” cartridges); but now that I have an easel, I can spray much more easily, and out of the wind.

I do want to try and use the General’s White Charcoal stuff again, though, even though I’ve been wary of whether it’s toxic or not. From what I can tell, it’s likely that the Prop 65 warnings are on there just because of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, but without knowing…it’s kind of tough to decide to just use it.

I am cautious, though. I am. And I know what I’m doing, so…that probably makes a big difference.

I also threw out some stuff which needed to be thrown out, and put my brushes into an empty furikake (rice topping) jar, which is almost kind of perfect. I took them out of their travel case, because the case was just getting dusty, and the brushes were staying hidden. I know myself a little better now than I used to. If I can see something, I’m more likely to gently edge myself into using it, and end up painting before I’m aware of myself enough to stop.

So there’s that which I want to photograph — just so I can remember where everything is — and the watercolor lightfastness chart four-month results I never posted here (I’ve eliminated some colors from my “good to use” list, for various reasons, while some — like Prussian Blue, which fades a little in intensity after four months in direct sun, but is still beautiful and handy for mixing, I’m a little torn about. Just get some anti-UV glass and don’t put your paintings in the window, I say).

😉

You know, I don’t believe I’ve taken my medication, yet. I should probably do that.

I was wondering how I could be so energetic, so late…

And before I forget, I’m going to remind myself here that if I am at a loss as to what to do with my watercolors, just try mixing chromatic greys, neutrals, and black, and seeing what comes of it. The test images can be anything I want…

Box modifications?

Today has been rather uneventful, other than dim sum in the morning and heading out to pick up more “gift card tins” at Michael’s.  They have rather corny sayings on their lids — only two of which (out of four total designs), I would support — but they fit certain art supplies pretty well.  I recall seeing a post some time back which was talking about adding an acrylic ground to the lid of a tin so it could be painted over…but I can’t remember on which blog I saw it.

I was at Michael’s yesterday and saw some little tins by the cashier that were meant to hold gift cards (!? why one needs a tin for a card, I don’t know).  But I picked up two of them, thinking that they were the perfect size for full sticks of soft pastels. I believe they were $1.39 each.

After getting home from dim sum today, I actually was able to fit my entire collection of Neocolor II crayons into two tins.  Each tin holds about 17 crayons.  (nine on the bottom, eight nestled on top.)  The only drawback is that they slide up and down a bit without added cushioning — I’m still thinking up ideas to solve that.  The most obvious one is to go to the plastics store and see if they sell small bits of foam which I can place in there.  The other one I can think of is to just wrap everything up in a paper towel:  the Altoids tin that is holding my charcoals is like this (though the paper needs to be changed out).

It’s kind of hard to find carriers for Neocolors, because they’re an odd size — about 1 cm longer than Crayola crayons, when new (though just as slippery…be warned [I almost broke a display trying to catch some that jumped out of my grip])…and to get a tin for them, I’d have to buy a set.  On top of that, most of the tins in the larger sets seem like they’re trying to take up as much space as possible.

It is possible to get discarded cardboard boxes for pastels from art stores…but in reality, I don’t know how many stores do this.  Utrecht used to do it, my other nearby art store other than Blick does it, and Blick will do it, though you might have to ask.  Even then, though, you get mystery pastel dust from whatever had been in there before:  and with pastels…it may not be anything you want to touch.

Prior to this, I had been using one of those “Very Useful Boxes” (it’s the brand name) to hold my Neocolors, but this is kind of bulky:  the one I had was deep, in addition to being long enough for the crayons…which kind of discourages use.

The lack of a hinge on these tins is not something that bothers me, because I always carry tins and lidded boxes of pastels and charcoal with a thick rubber band around them (except for the white pastel tin, which I really need to switch out — they rub against each other in travel, and produce an excess amount of pastel dust).

After I fit all the Neocolors into the tins, I took the smaller number (the earth tones) out, put in a tissue liner (who wants to clean pastel dust out of a new tin…), and tested whether they really would fit my soft pastels.  What I have in open stock soft pastels is not very exciting:  it’s a grayscale set that I used on that “Rain” composition I showed a while back.  But pastels come in a bunch of really nice colors, aside from just white, black, and mixes of the two (though why one would use a black pastel if one had charcoal, I’m not sure — unless there is a texture issue going on, one needed to use the Gum Arabic binder to try and seal something down, or something similar).

I have about seven full sticks of greyscale soft pastels (mostly Rembrandt brand:  they are known to be produced without lead, cobalt, or cadmium pigments…these are heavy metals which I suspect can be transdermally absorbed if they are in soluble form)* which I haven’t broken in half yet…set in widthwise, they fit in there perfectly.  I haven’t been able to see just how many could fit, because I haven’t broken out my Blick half-stick set yet to try and see.  (The Blick soft pastel set that I have came in a foam-padded box…it’s kind of cumbersome and way bigger than necessary.  On the bright side, I don’t have to worry about friction making nuisance pastel dust, or any color contamination from being stored next to a different color.)

What I can say is that the gift-card tin will fit at least nine full sticks; possibly ten.  I’m not sure, because of the curvature of the edges of the tin — and because I haven’t hardcore tried to shove as many in there as I could.  🙂  If I think about my half-stick habit (it enables drawing with the broad side of the pastel as well as the edges), one tin might fit 20 half-sticks (if I set in the smaller of the halves…theoretically).

I think that’s pretty awesome.

The drawback to this is that I use these unwrapped, so the colors are probably going to rub up against each other and contaminate each other.  In reality, when I have to carry, say, any white pastel, I usually wrap it up in a facial tissue and put it inside a small plastic bag of the type that is used to hold jewelry parts (this contains any dust or spontaneous unwrapping).  (These are also available at Michael’s — and no, they aren’t paying me.  You might also be able to find them at bead stores, though I wouldn’t expect those to be something people-in-general know about.)

The issue comes when I might need to access multiple different colors of pastel, and they need to be separated.  I’m fairly certain I can tool out a solution utilizing folded cardstock, an X-acto knife, a ruler, a butter knife (for creasing), a pencil, and some scissors…and maybe some rubber cement.  It shouldn’t be too hard.  The major difficulty I’ve found is that I have seen no inexpensive way to carry soft pastels, other than the “discarded box” solution at the art stores — or buying a set primarily for the box, which is just…too much.

Right now I’m thinking of a storage setup…glassine paper or paper towels on the bottom and folded over the top, and a bunch of individual cardstock compartments for half-sticks of soft pastel.

I should also get on reworking my charcoal storage, though, too…or at least wipe off the white pastel that contaminated my set…because I really want to use all of this stuff again.

I’m just not certain whether I should use large paper…and if so, do I want to try and find that hemp stuff again…

*I should mention that Blick’s website has a lot of Prop 65 warnings about Rembrandt pastels.  I am thinking that a lot of these may be due to the presence of nano-scale Titanium Dioxide pigments (which, through dust inhalation or skin contact, can be an issue at occupational exposure levels).  The Caution Label notifications may be there because the pigments used may contain Lamp Black, which can be toxic — at the least, if it’s contaminated — but the website says it should be considered slightly toxic by skin contact and inhalation.

The mystery white pastel issue is solved:

The people at Blick got back to me (!!!).  Long story short, the white in the Blick square pastels is Titanium White; the CL is there because they’re concerned about nanoparticles.

Pastels use a larger particle size than that found in mineral sunscreens (which is where the data about exposure is coming from).  Though unlikely, there’s enough of a chance of nanoparticles being in the Blick square pastels that the Caution Label is placed on the product.  Nanoparticles of Titanium Dioxide are transparent; can be absorbed transdermally; and can be harmful if inhaled.  Washing regularly during and after using these pastels should minimize any transdermal absorption.  Gloves are recommended if there are cuts or sores on the hands…the other precautions, I already take:

  • don’t eat or drink in the same area as you’re working, or with dirty hands
  • don’t blow pastel dust up into the air (tap it off of your image)
  • use an air purifier if you will be working for long periods of time

In addition, I’d add this:

  • if possible, wet-mop up any dust, instead of using a vacuum
  • if you use a vacuum, use one with a HEPA filter
  • if concerned, wear a dust mask to trap particles before they get to your lungs (though if nanoparticles are an issue, a respirator might be a better option).

I feel so much friggin’ better, now.  I can actually use these.

I felt the need to update this because of speculations posted earlier (which now seem unfair), and not being able to find this information anywhere else online.  Nor has anyone in any store had this information to give to me (I’ve asked in multiple places, before).

Thank you, kind person from Blick!  🙂

The pastel saga continues…

So…I did end up getting the Rembrandts.  This was largely because the Alphacolor greyscale pastels really looked like exactly the same colors as I already had.

I have also sent off a question to the website I mentioned earlier…though now that I am looking over the WetCanvas archives, I’m fairly certain that the mystery dangerous substance is probably a contaminant of talc.  (Asbestos [a family of fibrous, carcinogenic crystals] is a common contaminant of talc — despite the fact that talc is used extremely commonly in cosmetics [especially face powders, but it’s in other things, too], and used to be the primary ingredient of baby powder.  Until, that is, it was linked to cervical cancer.)

This would explain the admonition not to get it in contact with one’s skin.  Normally, the danger is through breathing the dust, as the crystals can work their way into one’s lungs and stay there without breaking down, irritating the lungs and eventually causing growths.  (They can also float in the air for days at a time.)  It’s not a big leap to see that maybe there’s a concern that the crystals could work their way through one’s skin.

Talc might also be a cheaper substitute for Titanium Dioxide, explaining the low price of these pastels.  However, I won’t know for sure until I get the message back, tomorrow.

After that…gah.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do if I can’t use the Blick pastels, safely.  There are darker tones available, just not in as many shades.  If I want to go into deep shades, I’ll likely need to pick a color to add to it.  (I’m thinking of Ultramarine [“Bluish Grey”]; Caput Mortuum and Chrome Oxide Green [“Green Gray”] were the other two I was looking at — they just seemed a bit saturated [especially Caput Mortuum].)  Mouse Grey might also be all right.

I didn’t get the really dark grey Rembrandt because it would be a duplicate; plus, the going price for those little guys at Blick in-store is $5 a stick.  With Web Price Matching, it’s less; but from the receipt, it’s impossible to tell how much each one actually cost (unless you only buy one thing).  The good thing is that I’m sure that the color I’m missing should be there if I do head back tomorrow, or later.

I was also able to find the one stick I was looking for which was missing by going to the other art store — where there was only one, and it was broken; but this was better than the shattered/crumbled old dead ones at the first store.  (Rembrandts dry out after a number of years, and get fragile.  What was left of my first one shattered on me like over-dry clay [probably dry kaolin; the pieces even tinkled as they landed on the table] after I rediscovered it about 7-9 years after I bought it [I can’t keep track of that memory…did I ever tell you why I write?].)  The price at the second store seemed a bit lower than the price at the first, probably even after Web Price Matching.  However, they were sold out of almost all greys.

GaaAaaAh.  Now I have to figure out what to do about the deeper colors.  I should probably experiment with these first, though.  And get working on my Sketchbook assignments…

Really really trying not to get frozen, here…

It’s been kind of a battle to get myself up and active today in order to do artwork — though today is and was the best time to do it.  I have succeeded, so far, in going over my sketch on canvas with acrylic glazing medium.

I suppose I did something, today...
I suppose I did something, today…

However…I’m trying to figure out whether I want to use a wet rag to try and erase all the extraneous lines.  The major problems with this are just 1) canvas warping, and 2) pilling of the rag over the surface of my painting.  Also, wet soft pastel looks a lot more vibrant than dry soft pastel.

I think I’ll try it.  Perfection isn’t really going to happen.

I can also see two areas which don’t really make sense.  I can try and alter those, or I could try and ignore the off markings.  This is majorly around the lower right corner and the upper right corner.  The headwrap that the model had on actually curved much more sharply in the photo (I abstracted it a bit, which makes it float), and I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with the neckline, there.

But I suppose I am in a painting class; it’s not like it has to be perfect (even though Prof is probably going to want to display these).

Back to work…