contemporary collage paintings
the process
Leslie Avon Miller

My life flows when I'm in my art.

Jean De Muzio

Friday, June 15, 2012

Art Studios and Divorce

Happily Ever After
24 x 24
Acrylic with mixed media
Leslie Avon Miller

As an extension of my hand, tied by an invisible wire to my thoughts, based on a library in my head with volumes of knowledge, the paint and I work together.

That’s how I feel about the water media I use. Splatter, and I know just how that will work. Slather with my gloved hand, lift and move paint around with papers of all kinds. It delights me every time. Acrylic media and I have a long standing relationship.

But now I am getting a “divorce”. Or at least a legal separation.

The media I know so well has become a sort of toxin, a source of Organic Volatile Compounds (VOCs) in the studio. They seep into my system and make me sick by causing indoor air pollution in the studio, despite two hepa filters running all the time. I know I will get a filter with carbon which will eliminate and absorb even more VOCs in the studio.

Exposure to VOCs can lead to short-term health effects including headaches, nausea, irritation of the eyes, nose and throat and skin irritation, while long-term exposure has been linked to respiratory diseases and even cancer. Symptoms like constant headaches, nausea, muscle aches, sinus infections, skin rashes, and stuffy noses can result from prolonged use of toxic materials or improper application.

Healing yourself is connected
with healing others. 

~Yoko Ono

Acrylic. I must give it up. But what will fill the void? I have several paintings that have the initial layer of acrylic but are not finished. I tried water color on top of acrylic today. I brought out my water color crayons and markers. 

Once Upon A Time
12 x 12
Acrylic, water color and mixed media
Leslie Avon Miller

I think of my studio as a vegetable garden, 
where things follow their natural course. 
They grow, they ripen. You have to graft. 
You have to water. 

~Joan Miro

I don’t have any oils. For years I thought oils were the source of a lot of studio air pollution. However, artist Shayla Perreault Newcomb has found that she can use oils and then cooking oil, not turpentine, to clean her brushes. That’s working for her.

I have just started to research the cure for indoor pollution in my studio. I highly recommend this post at  Shayla’s blog as a good place to start.

You can find many articles and blog posts about this topic by goggling Art Studio Air Quality. And here is a link to an interesting article by a certified sustainable building advisor and writer. She has interviewed a friend who grew up in a home with an art studio only separated by a sliding glass door from the family’s living space, and tells about the health challenges this caused for the artist and family members. The article has tips on Green Art.

I am looking at having a professional quality hood installed as part of my painting station, much like in a restaurant, but the airflow should go down, then out. I wish I had thought of that when we were building. And I am going to keep researching.

More experimentation. Here I come. How is the air quality in your studio? Do you feel your art practice is green and healthy?