Thursday, May 31, 2012

Linseed and hardwood floors

Oh so many years ago I stained and polyurethaned my hardwood floor. Last year I stripped the remaining finish and prepped to refinish with water-based polyurethane. Alas, in my procastinating and flighty habits, I never did get to this.

I've opted to refinish instead with boiled linseed oil. What a joy! I can do a bit at a time and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. Note that this is not the linseed oil we paint with. The oil is heated to polymerize and oxidize and there may also be metallic dryers. There will still be a second and possibly a third coat.

Here's a look at the floor with a light sanding prior to oiling.

The oil has been applied and is soaking in.

And here's the final look after two rubbings.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Yard Critters

This clump of blackberries is well visited by bees. Perhaps because I'm reading about Vermeer, I'm trying to work with natural light instead of my macro flash unit. Depth of field drops off dramatically but I like the softness of natural light, particularly when the sky is cloudy.

The rhodys are in bloom. Each year they are loaded with bees and this is the first time I watch closely enough to see that the bees are feeding from a crease surrounded by rusty colored dots.

Ants here are feasting on the surface of peony buds. From The Heartland Peony Society's FAQ:
"Do not try to get rid of the ants on your peonies. This is a natural and temporary activity. It is believed that peonies produce small amounts of nectar and other ant attractants to encourage ants to help in opening the dense double flower buds found in many peonies. The ants may be found covering certain varieties and avoiding others, this is totally normal.

"Once the buds have opened the ants will disappear - also normal."

Monday, May 21, 2012

A New Generation

It's another under the deck American Robin generation! The mother is flying in and out right by this little one so there must be siblings within.

And it's a new batch of bunnies too!

Timothy is on cottontail watch from this kitchen vantage point.

Lastly, here are my charts in red ochre and nicosia green earth. Next up is to put these paints to work. More soon!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lemon Ochre Study

A while ago I mixed black or white with lemon ochre to line up in value with Munsell neutrals. Well, that got me thinking about lemons, so I've been carrying a couple around, studying their contained shadows in different lights and angles. I realized that I couldn't accurately portray the shadows only by lowering value--there was simply too much chroma in those low values.

This evening I mixed a fresh batch of each lemon ochre value and then began mixing pretubed Munsell neutrals with corresponding value. See the two piles to the right, how close they are in value.

Here's an example of the chroma range in a light value.

And here is the final study, each highest chroma possible value progressively sliding towards neutral.

Already I can see that the shadows are lining up nicely with a lower chroma. Now I am wondering how many values I could premix to cover a lemon's colors. Fascinating stuff...

I want to complete this study with red and green earths too. I'm imagining all the possible colors without even mixing paints...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oil Testing

Here's the beginning of a little oil test, nine samples as follows:

The first four from Natural Pigments:
  • Aged Linseed Oil
  • Pale Grinders Oil (High-Acid Refined Linseed Oil)
  • Vacuum-Bodied Oil (Low Viscosity, Linseed)
  • Sun-Thickened Aged Linseed Oil (handmade from above oil)
The next five from Jedwards International:
  • Cold Pressed Organic Linseed Oil (source oil for washed and reclaimed below)
  • Hand-Washed Oil - Batch 1
  • Hand-Washed Oil - Batch 2
  • Reclaimed Oil
  • Safflower Oil
Click image for a better view
Using cotton swabs I dabbed these oils across strips of masonite prepped with GAC 100 and Acrylic Gesso. Once the oils dry I will keep one in the sun, one in the dark. How long will each oil take to dry? Will it yellow, or even lighten, over time? We'll see. I'll be keeping watch and taking notes, presenting results from time to time.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Nesting Time

Yesterday I noticed this Baltimore Oriole, Icterus galbula, intent on a few vines. Today I paid closer attention and realized that she is stripping the bark for nesting material. Every year the orioles return and nest nearby.

Remember a couple of years back when we looked at nesting robins? A pair has nested again under the deck, very close to the previous nest. I could pull up some decking for photos but this year choose to leave well enough alone.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Filtering Oil

While skimming oil for another round of washing there is always a bit left behind. That oil - fatty acid barrier is not always distinct and one must make the decision when to stop and leave the leftovers for later.

The leftovers get dumped into my reclamation oil jar, which was recently washed up a few times and considered done. Only thing is that the result was terribly cloudy, still holding onto those fatty acids and probably some water as well.

I've had this idea mulling about that I could filter this stuff...

The funnel tube is plugged from end to end with a cotton ball. The funnel is friction fit into a piece of corrugated cardboard. Hi tech, huh? ;-) Well, it works so absolutely perfectly well! That cloudy mess is coming out crystal clear!

It is taking time--a few hours to get less than the two ounces you see here, but I see no worries. This looks like one of those set 'em and forget 'em procedures.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Odorless Mineral Spirits (OMS) is a solvent that oil painters commonly substitute for gum turpentine.

Why not just use turpentine? It's a serious health hazard. Additionally, some people are, or become allergic or sensitized. See this OSHA document for details.

Solvents are used for thinning oil paint, cleaning brushes and as an ingredient of mediums. OMS can handle thinning and cleaning but may not be strong enough for some mediums.

I pulled up the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for these brands of artists's OMS:
  • Weber Turpenoid - Aliphatic Hydrocarbon 100%
  • Gamblin Gamsol -  Naptha(Petroleum), Hydrotreated heavy
  • Winsor & Newton Sansador - Distillates (Petroleum), Hydrotreated light
They are all quite similar, and even may compare to the OMS you will find in a hardware store. I spent hours Googling these solvents, trying to determine which brand might be safest and still perform.  What I did find for my research was a wealth of misinformation, a good deal of it from large artist's forums. I've come to find reliable information from these web resources:
In this case, AMIEN held the answers. Here are a couple of forum quotes that I used to based my decision:
There are significant differences that make true, highly-refined odorless mineral spirits safer alternatives to turpentine. True odorless mineral spirit has the aromatic component refined out of it – less than .005% remains. Most significantly, OMS has an evaporation rate approximately 3 – 5 times slower than turpentine – this means that during a painting session you will work around less evaporated solvent. In addition, OMS has a high flash point, and is not absorbed into healthy skin. 
. . .
The other factor we will want to consider is the health issue of solvent exposure. You'll find some art store brands to be less toxic than a typical hardware store variety... The following are Threshold Limit Values (TLV) for an 8 hour work day (according to ACGIH). Higher values are LESS toxic.

Turpentine 100ppm (including W&N distilled)
Aliphatic Hydrocarbons 100ppm (Turpenoid, Utrecht Odorless)
Iso-paraffinic Hydrocarbons 171ppm (Maimeri Odorless)
Common hardware store OMS 100-200ppm
Hydro-treated Heavy Naptha 300ppm (includes Gamsol)

Hydro-treated Heavy Naptha at 300ppm will have the minimum of aromatic solvent content and be less toxic, as the AMIEN staff suggested. The art store OMS at 200ppm may have less of the really nasty "impurities" of the common hardware store OMS like 1,2,4-tri methyl benzene at 10ppm.

. . .

If you find this interesting, I urge you to follow the links and make your own decisions. Based on my research, I will be soon using Gamsol--my Turpenoid bottle is nearly empty.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Work Continues

I've been in a house cleaning frenzy all week long. The eventual outcome will leave me with a clean and organized home, and a working studio. I am already having an easy time finding art materials!

Today I take break from housework to catch up on a few projects. One block needed cleanup after I mistakenly painted the wrong value on a few cube faces and many blocks needed work from leftover fingerprints. I tried to be a little less sloppy and pay more mind today. :-)

Here's the setup for my first Bargue exercise. I pulled Plate 1 into Photoshop to properly size the images to 18 x 24". I'll be working with the sight size method for copying. I'm using a translucent support so that I can overlay and check my work. More on this later...

And lastly, oil washing continues. I'm testing out inexpensive plastic containers, rather than those glass canning jars that have all cracked. So far so good with the plastic.