Saturday, April 2, 2011


This is a copy of a Tom Thomson painting that I did a couple of years ago. (I painted a new painting for today, but it totally tanked. I won't be showing that one). If you don't like the painting above, tell Tom. Oh, wait, nevermind...he died (under supremely mysterious circumstances) in 1917. I like Tom Thomson and as my Mom used to say, what's not to like.

Even though the painting I worked on this afternoon went south, the day was not a total loss.  I acquired some Turpenoid Natural for cleaning brushes. It's kind of spendy, so I hadn't bought it before. It cleans brushes much more thoroughly and easier than other things I've used. It's a bonus that it is not a solvent. I haven't cared as much about "toxicity" issues as I "should". Well, I enjoyed cleaning my brushes today... with this new discovery. (Update: Read Thomas Kitt's unfavorable review of Turpenoid Natural in the comments section under this post).

And here's a slide show from my Saturday (I took a neighborhood walk). What about you? What's going on with you this weekend....? Anything interrreeesssting?...Tell!

(Top Photo) Painting: Celeste Bergin, after Tom Thomson, oil on 9x12 stretched canvas


Marie Theron said...

Those colours! We can surely learn from that wonderful painter! Thanks for showing us your copy, Celeste!

AutumnLeaves said...

Beautiful painting, Celeste. I love the glorious colors and the almost rustic feeling I get from it. Loved seeing your Saturday items of interest too. Your cat is gorgeous and that doorknob just blows me away. It is stunning and a beautiful photo!

hw (hallie) farber said...

There is actually a lot to like in the painting. Great photos--I love the rusty doorknob and peeling paint.

billspaintingmn said...

Lots of character on this post! Every bit as good as Saturday.
I will try to paint the wind. Or capture what I can!

Thomas Kitts said...

Celeste, I would not recommend you use Turpenoid "Natural" for several reasons, starting with the fact the producer refuses to disclose any useful information in a MSDS sheet. (link to that sheet provided below)

Here is what we do know:

1. The product contains D-Limonene, an agent well documented to cause liver cancer. OSHA (US Government guidelines for exposure to D-Limonene is 30 ppm (parts per million). For comparison purposes, Turpentine is 100 ppm, and an OMS like Gamsol is 300 ppm.

If you do the math you see that Gamsol is by far the safer thing to use. Do you really want to be breathing D-Limonene in a confined studio space?

2. Turpenoid Natural does not completely evaporate off. It leaves an oily residue behind. Not that we know what it is because again, the company refuses to divulge any information. If you use it only for cleaning brushes then it may be less of a problem, but if someone is using it as a painting medium (and some are) then it is a problem. A big one. That residue is in the paint. And more of the vapor is in their lungs.

Want to see for yourself? Lay a few drops of a quality OMS and Turpenoid Natural on a sheet of glass and let them both flash off. (Do it outside, not indoors.) Then look to see what is left behind. Anything left where the OMS was? How about the turpenoid natural?

Here is the company's own MSDM sheet. As you see it discloses nothing. A bad sign in our industry.

And here is a MSDS sheet from the Ringling School of Design, vetted, comparing different solvents used in oil painting:

Note that Turpenoid and Turpenoid "Natural" are not the same thing. This causes great confusion and misleads many uninformed artists.

If you have any more questions about this feel free to ask me one of our painting sessions. Just because something is labeled "Natural" or "Non-Toxic" doesn't make it so. Both terms are unregulated in the art material world, and they are often abused to a great extent.

Hope it helps and doesn't panic. (grin)

Thomas Kitts

Celeste Bergin said...

hooooboy. hahaha Thomas. Well. I heard that Quang Ho uses Turpenoid Natural for cleaning brushes..but I did a search and didn't come up with anything to really back it up. Hmm. Now I don't even know who told me that. I remember a long while back there was a "lively debate" about the fact Elio Camacho didn't have a problem with using oils to clean his brushes. What a firestorm of conversation that started. I learned (from Eric Jacobsen) to consider my brushes mostly "disposable" (he buys a bunch of 8's and just pitches them after a couple paintings). But...I do get that residue is something important to think about for the health of the painting's future. I'll make sure my post has a link to your comment. Thanks!

Thomas Kitts said...

Actually, I highly recommend using oil to clean your brushes over anything else. It is likely what most of the "Old Masters" used anyway, and I'll do a post on it.

As for brushes being disposable, sure, tell Eric Jacobsen I throw them out ever two or three years or so. (Ha!)


Thomas Kitts said...

Oh, and just to tad fatuous: "The best way to avoid ruining your brushes is to not let them dry out."

Which means, of course, we should be pushing paint around with them all the time. (grin)

Thomas Kitts

Celeste Bergin said...

Thanks, Thomas.

Well, it was baby oil that Elio used. People really jumped on that!

Anonymous said...

I really love the colors in this painting. They just sing!
I also appreciate that you always tell us the truth of the matter... that your effort Saturday went south. That's just to be expected, but there is some comfort knowing it even happens to an expert like you.

Thanks Celeste for being such a wonderful artist and blogger and all around supreme human being!

Dave Starr said...

Tom Thomson is so interesting. I like the copy a lot. It looks like he was before his time. About the turpenoid issue, I emailed you.

Celeste Bergin said...

message emailed from Dave Starr (reprinted with permission):

Hi Celeste,

Yes, I doubled checked. Quang Ho discusses the fact that he cleans his brushes with Turpenoid and Turpennoid Natural in one of his instructional DVDs.

He first cleans the brush with Turpenoid and finalizes the cleaning with Turpenoid Natural. He specifically states that he is referring to the product in the green can. I doubt that I would have tried it without such a good painter's endorsement.

Ho went on in the DVD to state that Turpenoid can be used for thinning paint and putting down a wash. Turpenoid Natural is not for is for cleaning. Hope this clarifies the matter for you. I clean my brushes the Quang Ho way, and I also prefer it to other methods. I guess it seems if it is good enough for him, it is good enough for me.

The DVD was made in 2009, so maybe Ho does something different now.


Anonymous said...

Yes Tom Thomson's work is very inspiring isn't it. You did a nice job of it. I like your vid clip of Saturday shots. great idea.

Quin Sweetman said...

What ever happened to using good, old fashioned soap?

I often use the Masters brush cleaner in the giant tub. What do the rest of you think of it. Also, I get to paint in a class once-in-a-while and they will only let us use watermixable oils. I'm leary of there permanance. Maybe you'll do a post on that in your blog, Thomas.

Thanks and beautiful painting, Celeste!

:) Quin

Pam Flanders said...

Love Tom Thompson's work! Wish I could remember the publisher that has wonderful full page reproductions of his work, it is worth finding. As for Turpenoid natural I'm with Thomas Kitts on that one. Use it for cleaning only (too slimy for painting) and take same health precautions as for any other cleaning products for oils. I rinse first with Gamsol then walnut oil if not being used again right away. With any paint build up I wash using Murphy's Oil Soap and warm water but dry thoroughly before storing. Your good brushes are precious. Cheap brushes are totally another matter, I get it Eric.

SKIZO said...


Doug Steward said...

I like the copy that you did.

Love Tom Thompson so much, that we bought a cottage way up in Ontario, Canada that is 45 min. from many of his painting sites and Canoe Lake where he was found dead. I will be going out this summer and trying to paint the marked sites this summer. Will not be bringing oil paints but acrylic since I can work larger with them. I will keep you posted on how I do!

SKIZO said...