A Life in Paint
Sometimes, life takes you full circle and you wind up, albeit older and wiser, right where you started, with your first love, where you belonged all along. For me, the notion of "returning to a first love" is , as you know, all too familiar. And recently, I've made the decision to do the same with my art.
You may or may not know, but when I started painting about 20 years ago, I began with oil paints. It was with oils that I perfected my technique, that produced many of my first "masterpieces". Oil and I shared many wonderful times together. Then I switched to acrylics. Why? Well, first I thought it was a safer option, health-wise. Secondly, me, not being blessed with the virtue of patience, began to find the long drying time of oil intolerable. Me and patience, we've never gotten along!
As the years progressed, I stuck with acrylics, and I had a unique ability to somehow make my acrylic pieces "look like oils". Here and there, I'd even return to my first love, teasing her, painting a piece or two, only to leave her again.
As I continued on my path, I began to develop a strange rash on my hand, my left one in particular, and began noticing a horrible sick feeling, exhaustion, congestion, dizziness, sweating. In short, I began feeling like I had just fought a war or something. These things scared the living shit out of me! As a man that admittedly carries more weight than he should, who likes the occasional indulgence and who is of a certain age, I was both terrified and convinced the end was nigh! So off I went, doctor's visits, extensive research, and of course, every medical test known to man, in search of answers. Nothing. No answers, I was perfectly healthy. Then came a startling observation..... these symptoms appeared when I was painting! No way, can't be! Yup. It was like the heartbreaking realization that your best friend is really no good and you have to cut them loose. I took breaks from painting and each time, the symptoms disappeared. Of course, I'm me, so these experimental breaks had to be repeated several times to break through my denial. I did research, and voila, it turns out that there's certain stuff in acrylics that I have an allergy to; rather, I have an allergy to the off-gassed fumes from the wet paint. Most people are just fine with acrylics, they have no problems with them at all; leave it to me to be one of the overly-sensitive few. Acrylics, when dry are perfectly safe, there are no fumes or wet substances to be inhaled or absorbed. Talk about an artist suffering for his art!
So, I've made the decision to return to my first "paint love", oil, non-solvent oil to be exact. I'm quite excited about it. It takes about a week to dry, which is something I'm just going to have to get used to. In the meantime, this piece, Feeling the Fall (36x24") stands as my final acrylic painting. And if I do say so myself, I'm happy to end that era with such a stunning piece.