04/01/2011 by Sarah Ritchie
We live in our 21st Century world where there are so many food and heath regulations that it is extremely difficult to put something into the marketplace that is toxic or unsafe. We should all be grateful (forgetting for the moment the resulting “nanny state” and bureaucracy) as it has not long been this way.
In the 1800s (in the time of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists) paints (such as the extremely popular “Paris Green” and “Cobalt Violet”) would contain copious quantities of arsenic and lead. As artists would mix their own paints and varnishes, they were exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis.
The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Cezanne developed severe diabetes, which is a symptom of chronic arsenic poisoning. Monet’s blindness and Van Gogh’s neurological disorders are likely directly related to their use of Paris Green, as well as lead pigments, mercury-based Vermilion, and solents such as turpentine.”
Acrylic paints (thinned and cleaned up with water rather than a solvent, such as turpentine) came on the scene in the 1950s. Acrylic paints were embraced for their ease of use, quick-drying properties and relatively low toxicity.
On Day Four I am very, very grateful to be living in the 21st Century with increased knowledge, a regulated paint industry and ready-mixed acrylics that I can buy and use without fear of being poisoned by my craft.
What are you grateful for today?!