Artists can now paint without toxic fumes.

Artists can now paint without toxic fumes.

Throughout the History of Painting, artists have suffered from hazardous, toxic, debilitating fumes, cutting their lives short and interfering with their enjoyment of painting. The Studio wreaked of strong odor from harsh thinners, varnishes, and oils, causing eye damage, breathing  problems, fatigue, and ultimately disease such as Cancer.

                I personally faced this problem as I worked in my Studio as a Contemporary painter. My first Series of Paintings consisted of large spray paintings up to ten-feet tall, sprayed with acrylic and their mediums. These paintings were very successful with shows on La Cienega, interest from New York galleries and sales to both private and Corporate collectors. I was even getting orders over the phone! However, I developed a severe case of bronchitis, even with cartridge masks and painting outdoors that I  had to resort to. I had to give up spray painting and even going to my Studio for six months as I became so hyper-sensitive to acrylic particles hanging in the air.

                Finally, I became well enough to paint again. I began using acrylic paint, watered down to stain the canvas. Then I experimented with adding Mediums, Rhoplex, the base for all acrylics. I did not think the medium that thinned with water would affect my health. However, over the years, I began to feel ill and developed a lump in my throat diagnosed at UCLA Medical Center as “Borderline Cancer.”

                I found out Acrylics contained formaldehyde and ammonia in order to make them water miscible and as a preservative. I could not paint at all, once again losing my energy, weight, and becoming quite ill. So ill I feared for my life.

                But once again, I recovered over a period of a year in which I gave up painting and developed my crayon drawings. After a year, I got a show at the prestigious Albright-Knox in Buffalo, New York. They sold many of my large-scale drawings and I was able to rent a car and drive throughout the East and into Canada, adding enjoyment and inspiration to my life.

                Back at the Studio, I was well enough to try painting again. I decided to switch to oils. At the Art Store, however, I found nothing I could use as a Medium. I would try several products, but everything was too strong smelling and full of fumes. Turpentine was out! Even masked turpentine, “Turpenoid” that was supposed to be free of fumes was too strong for me to tolerate. I tried Safflower oil from the grocery store and did a series of paintings influenced by  De Kooning’s use of that oil, but the paintings never fully dried and I received complaints from my Collectors. Often the paintings would “tear” dripping oil oozing out of the painting!

                My quandary was what many Artists face,and have faced throughout History.  How to paint while retaining my Health.  Then began a research journey lasting two years, culminating in finding a Company in Canada headed by Robert Gaffney, who  was willing to work with me to develop organic,  cold-pressed linseed oils that were not only thin enough not to need thinners at all, but in a huge break-through, a transparent linseed oil the color of  water, he called “Pureflo.” For over-glazes and impastos we worked together to develop “Heavy Glazing” oil that I mix with egg to form an emulsion that  resembles whipped cream, making a creamy paint-base. Tempera is egg-based and has been used throughout history.  I simply mix high-grade tube oil colors with these oils. I do not need any thinners at all. No varnish is needed either as they drive with a beautiful, Satin gloss. I have used Omega Art Linseed oils for twenty-five years. They dry to a strong, firm layer and do not bleed or tear-up. There are no fumes at all in my Studio, even with large-scale works up to eight and nine feet.  I use a Citrus cleaner for my brushes and for oils on paper. Never have I felt better or more comfortable in the Studio. I have three galleries in different parts of the country to show my Art. My work is represented in three Museum’s Permanent Collections.  I have no health problems and go to the gym three times a week.

                Omega's online store carries these oils, “Pureflo” and “Heavy Glazing” oils to benefit all Artists. It can also be used as a wood varnish. These oils are Artist tested and have been endorsed by painters Olga Antonova and Chuck Arnoldi. The bottles display my paintings and signature on the labels. They are made in Canada with organic seeds and the quality is the highest available. These oils are a gift to Artists working in their Studios today, working while remaining healthy!

Susan Moss