Painted Feet
My feet after a late night of painting.

In case anyone was wondering why I had to switch from oil to egg tempera, I thought this candid image probably says it all. A friend shot this, having found me sleeping after one of many all-night painting sessions. (Believe it or not I had showered before passing out.) I was never one of those painters that could walk into the studio with a white lab coat and emerge without a mark on me. Even a few years of painting like this can take a serious toll on your health, and of course, this matters a lot more if you’re pregnant (I’m due in mid June). I still love oil painting but –for the sake of my health and my family– when I return to it, I’ll have make sure of a few things:

  1. proper ventilation and lighting (not always easy in northern climates and on a painter’s budget, but essential no matter how tortured an artist you are);
  2. plants and air cleaners in the studio;
  3. Nox-Out pellets for absorbing toxic chemicals;
  4. wearing barrier creams and gloves (when possible), and masks during varnishing;
  5. a special blood test: a build up of lead can be leached from the bones during pregnancy, and it’s possible to determine the levels. If necessary the blood can be cleaned; chelation therapy is a fairly expensive procedure but something to think about if you have been exposed to large amounts of lead.
Dizzy at Seashore
Soothing tired feet in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland.

I love the memory this second photo evokes. The same friend had just found me on the lawn of my boarding house, having passed out from fumes after another night of painting in my tiny downtown studio preparing for an upcoming show. I was working very long hours, and the fumes had been flying in the heat. He did me the great favour of taking me on a short day trip to a nearby cove to get some fresh sea air and revive my spirits. On the way back, he took it upon himself to buy a fan to help improve the ventilation. A good friend, and not a bad photographer. Thanks, Greg!