Show Notes Demonstration Transcript
This demo on how I paint using marble dust mixed into linseed oil instead of using solvents is for my listeners who've asked to see a demonstration after watching my interview with internationally acclaimed artist and author Kimberly Brooks in Passionate Painter Podcast episodes 70 and 71.
Kimberly is the author of The New Oil Painting: Your Essential Guide to Materials and Safe Practices. Her book is a how-to on clearing out your studio of dangerous toxins, with tons of useful advice.
I've been painting with minimal use of gambol solvent since reading the book, and I'm pleased with the results. The only time I use it these days is if I need to give my brushes a cleaning swoosh before their final wipe when I'm done with my painting session, and I'm phasing out even these brief instances as well.
After posting 70 and 71, I was surprised that my interview with Kimberly generated so much controversial buzz. Many questions about whether using marble dust is in fact less safe than using solvent.
For myself, I am comfortable using it, and this demo will show you how I use it in what I consider a safe manner. That said, I recommend Kim's book for a thorough explanation of the process. You can also reach out directly to Kim with questions through the contact page of her website at https://www.kimberlybrooks.com/about/contact
Now before we get started, disclaimer:
I am not an expert on the use of marble dust and linseed oil as a substitute for solvents. I am showing you how I personally use them and the precautions I take because you, my listeners are asking for a demo.
I am not a hazardous materials expert and cannot tell you that marble dust is 100% safe. You should be careful not to stir the dust into the air where you may breathe it in, as it is not safe to inhale.
This video is purely for informational and entertainment purposes, to provide some recommendations on keeping its use as safe as possible.
As we get started please note that I am wearing an N95 face mask, just as a precaution, and you will see I am careful not to stir up the dust or use it in large quantities.
I am also wearing gloves, as I always do. This is unrelated to using marble dust, however, it is because I am keeping my hands away from the paint, which is likely to trigger a reaction on my skin due to allergies.
In addition to the mask, I do keep an air purifier in my studio to help keep the air as clean and safe as possible. My model is a wind PlasmaWave 5500-2 with HEPA Filter, designed to Reduce VOCs or volatile organic compounds, such as solvents, as well as to catch airborne particles. I got mine at winixamerica.com, which I'll link to in the show notes. This is not an affiliate link — I am simply sharing my satisfaction with this product. You can also purchase them from amazon.com and other online marketplaces.
Having this filter doesn't mean I can be careless in stirring up stone dust or leaving solvents uncovered. I am still cautious with both whenever I use them, and I do recommend this type of air purifier when in a studio in which VOCs and/or stone dust or other particles you won't want to breathe are present.
First you will see me squeezing out a puddle of linseed oil.
Now I'll take a small scoop of marble dust — I keep it in a ziplock — and carefully pour it into the oil from as close to the oil as I can get to avoid the dust getting stirred up in the air. The dust is very fine, I would compare it to that of confectioner's sugar.
Now I'm closing up the bag, and you'll see I'm not "zipping the ziplock, as that can cause a rush of air that can again send marble dust into the air. I'm just snapping my way across the bag to close it.
Next, I'm slowly folding the linseed oil over the dust, mixing the two together carefully to saturate the dust and keep it safely mixed into the oil and thus out of the air.
You can see the consistency of the final mixture. I would describe it as a little more thinned out than say, the liquid acrylic paint you can pick up in the small bottles for crafts. Naturally, you can mix less dust into more oil for a thinner mixture. My mixtures vary each time but generally, this is how I mix it.
I take my time, going slowly as I fold the dust into the oil.
Now you'll see me mixing up paint and taking swipes of the mixture to mix into the paint for a smooth paint consistency. It makes the paint nice and buttery and spreadable without it losing its pigment's intensity as it would when broken down because it's been thinned by solvent.
You can see as I rough it into my painting that it is thin enough to spread but not transparent.
Now this is the first rough-in, so you're not going to see much, but you can see that the paint was at a workable consistency.
As you get farther along in your paintings, you can let layers dry and glaze on top of dry paint using this oil and marble mixture. As Kim says in the episode (and the book), the dust particles allow for the paint to adhere and suspend themselves throughout the oil for a wonderful glazing effect.
I'm not demonstrating glazing here. Though fun and capable of creating rich layers, glazing is not necessary if you don't want to use it. I'm showing you here the beginning stage of a painting so you can see that you can indeed thin out your paints for the block in of a new painting without losing chroma, or intensity in your pigments.
I hope this demo was helpful.
I'd like to thank those who've asked questions and been courteous. Thank you for your interest in the podcast and Kim's methods. Again I highly recommend you pick up a copy of her book, which will be linked here in the show notes along with her email.
Until Next time,
Go make something.
About Kimberly Brooks
Throughout her thirty-year career, Brooks has focused on the medium of oil with occasional integrations of gold and silver leaf. in 2008, Brooks started to feel increasingly suspicious about the fumes she inhaled as a part of her practice. Coinciding with modern science and historical manuscripts, Brooks created an ultimate guide for oil painters illuminating why solvents aren’t necessary and included them in her hugely popular new book “The New Oil Painting” published by Chronicle Books
Brooks' work has been the subject of several books including Brazen: A Painting and Poetry Collection and Fever Dreams. Brooks speaks about her work, creativity to schools, museums, Tedx, and was recently a featured artist for the National Endowment for the Arts. Brooks conducts workshops at institutions online via her acclaimed artist program. She lives and works in Los Angeles. Learn at kimberlybrooks.com