Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Petition to UK MEPs: Stop the EU ban of cadmium in artist's paints

Today I became aware that there is  petition on 38 Degrees - "Stop the EU ban of cadmium in artist's paints." However to date it doesn't have a lot of signatures!

The 38 Degrees website and the petition about Cadmium in Artists Paints
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) may have changed its mind about the proposed ban - see yesterday's blog post - A Rethink: about proposed ban on Cadmium in artists' paints - and artists' professional practices.

However it is consulting until 8th February 2015 on its new position - and those seeking a ban may well present more evidence and change their mind yet again.

If you are at all concerned about even the possibility of a ban, a "belt and braces" approach would suggest signing this petition is a good idea.

I've just signed the petition and decided to publicise it so you can decide whether you want to add your name too.  Click the link at the top if you want to read more about why the petition was put together.

If you want to share the share the petition with others, either share this post or these links:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Rethink: about proposed ban on Cadmium in artists' paints - and artists' professional practices

Back in June, I posted Will Cadmium be banned in artists' paints in Europe? about the European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) proposal for legislation to ban artists paints containing cadmium pigments throughout the EU.

Today I received an email from Dr Howard Oakley, who updated me on what has happened since. Dr Oakley put some considerable effort into protesting the proposed ban - and submitted a 22 page response!

He told me that the ECHA has changed its mind in the light of the evidence submitted as a result of the consultation on the proposed ban on cadmium in artists paints.
the proposed restriction is not the most appropriate EU wide measure to address the identified risks in terms of the proportionality of its socio-economic benefits to its socio-economic costs."
It's very interesting from a number of perspectives and, as well as the ECHA response, it also touches on:
  • Health & Safety: artists' awareness of the toxicity of cadmium and associated studio practice
  • Labelling practices: artists' awareness of whether or not they were assuming paint contained cadmium if it used the word Cadmium on the label - when it did not
  • Art Education: the role of art schools in promoting best practice in use of paint containing toxic pigments
  • Representation of Artists: the role of art societies in representing artists who use specific types of paint
Plus I ask you your views on a few questions........

Proposed Cadmium Ban: The response from the  European Chemicals Agency

This is the summary of the new position
RAC adopted its opinion, and SEAC agreed on a draft opinion, on cadmium and its compounds in artists’ paints, not supporting the proposal from Sweden to restrict the placing on the market and use of cadmium and its compounds in artists' paints covered by TARIC codes 3213 and 3212. The reason for the proposed action by Sweden was a concern for for human health via the environment . During use and cleaning procedures cadmium based artists’ paints are released to the waste water. When the resulting sewage sludge is applied as fertiliser in the agriculture, the cadmium compounds used in artists’ paints will eventually end up in foodstuffs.
RAC found the risks to be negligible. The 60-day public consultation on the SEAC draft opinion will be launched in December 2014. SEAC plans to adopt its final opinion by March 2015.  Annex to RAC and SEAC news alert December 2014 Annex to RAC and SEAC news alert December 2014 (121.4k)
REPORT:  This is the report of the ECHA's Committee for Risk Assessment (adopted 26 november 2014)

OPINION: This is the



Cadmium selenide
Cadmium selenide
- used for red artist's paint
Significant doubts were cast on the estimates of the impact of cadmium in artists' paints.

The Committee also noted the impact assessments of artists.

I have to say that I really did think that the strength of opinion and the extent to which people were prepared to submit comments indicated to me that there was a good chance that the proposed ban would not be agreed.
Alternatives to Cd-containing artists’ paints are available. However, during public consultation it has been brought up by industry and by a large number of comments (341out of 666) by artists using the paints that alternatives to artists’ paints containing Cd donot provide the same technical specifications as Cd pigments e.g. regarding lightfastness, opacity and tinting strength (at least more paint has to be put on the canvas to achieve similar results). These parameters are mainly associated with aesthetic aspects of the paintings and therefore cannot be monetized easily. In addition to the familiar concept of technical feasibility of alternatives, the aesthetic aspects of the paints needs to be fully taken into account due to their role in painting/production of art. There is a strong assertion from public consultation that the alternatives are not of equal value.
We'll just have to wait and see now whether the revised position statement is agreed.

More consultation


Its proposals not to proceed with the ban are also now out for consultation.

Interested parties are invited to submit comments on the draft opinion by 8 February 2015.

Health & Safety Implications for Artists


Professional practices - and health and safety

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: Royal Institute of Oil Painters - Annual Exhibition 2014

Last week I visited the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. This can be seen at the Mall Galleries until 1pm on the 21st December - so lots of opportunities for last minute Christmas shopping!  Who doesn't need a nice oil painting?

In previous years I've visited the exhibition on preview day but I find there's always too many people to see the paintings properly (I like to look from a distance first) and then of course I spend too much time talking to chums and not enough time looking at the exhibition! So this time I went two days later.

I've been mulling over since then what to say about it. It's something of a Curate's Egg.

The ROI has some excellent painters as members and their work is well worth seeing. It also has an Associate Membership as a route through to full membership for younger emerging artists - and those who have come to oil painting later in life - and there are some excellent younger artists now showing with the ROI

At the moment it seems to me that the ROI is on a cusp - moving from a more traditional way of operating - and painting - to becoming a more contemporary art society more rooted in the 21st century while still valuing the traditional skills of oil painting and picture making.

A very muted and symmetrical end wall 
I loved Lachlan Goudie's still life paintings (either end) - which I would have liked to see featured as a group
I very much liked the painting of the cliff by Chris Rigby
and the small landscape paintings by Tim Benson
So, for example, this is an art society which now has an active and good-looking ROI blog and a well used Facebook Page which is building 'likes'. I particularly liked the way that the exhibition was trailed via images of paintings in the exhibition in the few weeks prior to its opening.  It has also posted lots of pics of its members with their paintings on its Facebook page enabling those who can't get to the Preview to put a face to the man or woman behind the painting

Special mention must also go to the ROI for getting its exhibition prizewinners up and on the blog within two days of the announcement of the Awards!  Well done on that score!

However in my opinion, the ROI still needs to apply itself to having accurate information about its annual exhibition (dates, times, venue) front and centre on its website rather than sending people off to another link!  A special mention for the related events would not go amiss!
I also understand from the Facebook Page that the exhibition has already taken more in sales this year than it did last year - and it's not yet at the half way mark!  I'm sure that in part must be a result of better marketing online.

However, here are some observations which are a tad less positive.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vincent Van Gogh's Notebooks

I'm updating websites at the moment while playing an old BBC programme about Vincent van Gogh's Notebooks on my Mini iPad which sits just in front of my iMac.

Do play it - it's excellent!

It's the equivalent of listening to a good Radio 4 programme while including black and white photography of his drawings and paintings. I find I don't miss the colour as I know most of the images used so well.
This documentary, made for the BBC's schools and colleges strand, follows Van Gogh's story from his early studies until his death. The programme details the hardship that the artist witnessed and endured throughout his life. (1964)
I hadn't realised the influence of his Japanese woodcuts on changing his style from the strong, sombre, stylised drawings to a more refined and lighter drawings and then paintings which included colour.  Or the impact that trying to draw light had on his own scope for mark-making.
He tried to draw light and even colour and created a new set of notation marks
Van Gogh Starry Night Drawing
Starry Night (Saint-Rémy, June 1889)
Medium drawing, pen and Indian ink on paper; 47 × 62.5 cm (18.5 × 24.6 in)
(Shchusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow)
The programme is a great mix of intelligent selection of quotations, film of places he visited and painted and a narrative which covers both biographical history and the changes in his artistic practice.

Vincent Van Gogh 0018
View of Arles, flowering orchards (April 1889)
(Flowering Orchards - a Van Gogh series)
oil on canvas, 72 × 92 cm (28.3 × 36.2 in)

I made a study of Van Gogh and particularly of his drawings back in February 2007 - and, as a result have written about him on and off ever since!

Below is a list of my blog posts about Vincent Van Gogh - and the website I created at the same time.
and my website

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

What are your favourite things - related to art?

Today I've been focused on sorting out the answers to an email interview with Steve Pill, the Editor of Artists & Illustrators Magazine - which is a very popular art magazine in the UK.

recent covers for Artists & Illustrators
You'll have to wait and see what the answers are when the magazine is published (and I'm not sure as yet which edition it will be).
However I thought I'd share the questions with you. It's for a new feature in the magazine called "My Favourite Things" - which sounds like the sort of article I always love to read!

These were my questions.
  • As an 'urban sketcher', where is your favourite place to draw?
  • And what is your favourite sketching implement?
  • If money was no object, which one painting would you most like to own?
  • Apart from your own, which art blog do you most enjoy reading and why?
  • Do you have a favourite coffee-table art book?
  • Which gallery do you enjoy visiting most to discover new art and artists?
  • Do you have a favourite art school and/or art tutor?
  • Which is your favourite art shop?
  • What was the last great exhibition you saw?
Why don't you see if you can answer these questions? 

What are your favourite things related to art?  Leave your answer as a comment - I'm interested to know! :)

I found some of them nearly impossible to answer and it was really difficult trying to narrow down to just one answer.


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