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Spring Time- Natural Egg Dye Techniques, DIY Crafts, Wooden Eggs, and Nature Art Projects!

If you love Spring Time as much as we do, you’ll love our fun crafts collection!

Check out our following Blog Posts and Videos for all your Crafty Needs:

 

P.S. Our Wooden Eggs Craft Kit is 15% OFF until April 3rd, 2017, Use Coupon Code WOODENEGGS15)

15% Off Wooden Eggs

 

Want More? Follow our YouTube Channel and FaceBook Page for Natural/ECO Tips and Tricks!

8 Ways to Use Natural Gold Mica [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

#1. Natural Gold Mica Oil Paint

Ingredients: Natural Gold Mica & Refined Walnut Oil


1. Pour small mound of gold mica on a glass palette 

2. Pour small amount of walnut oil on top

3. Mix with a palette knife until smooth (adding more oil as needed).

4. Paint!

#2. Flash Guilding

1. Brush an oil or water-based adhesive onto dry painting surface. We used walnut oil.

  

2. Dip dry, soft brush into dry mica.

 

3. Dust onto wet surface.

4. Wait until completely dry before blowing or lightly brushing off the excess. This will create a rich, metallic finish. 

#3. Natural Gold Egg Tempera Paint

Ingredients: 1 egg & gold mica

1. Crack egg & pour out egg whites, keeping only yolk in shell.

2. Pour yolk onto paper towel to gently dry.

3. Puncture sack around egg yolk and squeeze yolk out into dish.

        

4. Mix yolk with pigment around 1:1, adjusting as needed depending on pigment type (all pigments absorb liquid differently)

5. Mix & Paint!

6. Dilute paint with water for thinner paint.

Note: A drop or two of Clove Oil can be added to slow spoilage. Tempera paint does not store well once mixed, so paint away! Once painted on paper, this is a very archival paint; once used by the Medieval Monks to create Illuminated Manuscripts.

OTHER USES: 

4. Gold Wax: Mix 1 part mica: 3 parts wax. Apply to any surface. Burnish as desired.

5. Gold Modeling Clay: Add to Polymer clay translucent base to create metallic clay.

6. Gold Acrylic Paint: Mix with clear acrylic medium (although not natural)

7.  Add to Varnishes for Patina Effects

8.  If you add only a tiny amount of mica to walnut oil and brush on the painting surface, the effect is more subtle – the surface becomes translucent and appears to have great depth. 

TIPS: 

– Don’t mix mica in with opaque or white paint, it will get buried and be lost. 

– Change the background color that you’re painting on and the gold will take on a whole new hue. 

8 Ways to Use Natural Gold Mica [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

#1. Natural Gold Mica Oil Paint

Ingredients: Natural Gold Mica & Refined Walnut Oil


1. Pour small mound of gold mica on a glass palette 

2. Pour small amount of walnut oil on top

3. Mix with a palette knife until smooth (adding more oil as needed).

4. Paint!

#2. Flash Guilding

1. Brush an oil or water-based adhesive onto dry painting surface. We used walnut oil.

  

2. Dip dry, soft brush into dry mica.

 

3. Dust onto wet surface.

4. Wait until completely dry before blowing or lightly brushing off the excess. This will create a rich, metallic finish. 

#3. Natural Gold Egg Tempera Paint

Ingredients: 1 egg & gold mica

1. Crack egg & pour out egg whites, keeping only yolk in shell.

2. Pour yolk onto paper towel to gently dry.

3. Puncture sack around egg yolk and squeeze yolk out into dish.

        

4. Mix yolk with pigment around 1:1, adjusting as needed depending on pigment type (all pigments absorb liquid differently)

5. Mix & Paint!

6. Dilute paint with water for thinner paint.

Note: A drop or two of Clove Oil can be added to slow spoilage. Tempera paint does not store well once mixed, so paint away! Once painted on paper, this is a very archival paint; once used by the Medieval Monks to create Illuminated Manuscripts.

OTHER USES: 

4. Gold Wax: Mix 1 part mica: 3 parts wax. Apply to any surface. Burnish as desired.

5. Gold Modeling Clay: Add to Polymer clay translucent base to create metallic clay.

6. Gold Acrylic Paint: Mix with clear acrylic medium (although not natural)

7.  Add to Varnishes for Patina Effects

8.  If you add only a tiny amount of mica to walnut oil and brush on the painting surface, the effect is more subtle – the surface becomes translucent and appears to have great depth. 

TIPS: 

– Don’t mix mica in with opaque or white paint, it will get buried and be lost. 

– Change the background color that you’re painting on and the gold will take on a whole new hue. 

Make Your Own Eco Stamp Pad & Stamps [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

MAKE YOUR OWN ECO STAMP PAD

in 60 seconds!

Supplies:
Paper Towels, Natural Earth Paint, Variety of household items to stamp
(pencil erasers, golf tees, wine corks, toothpaste cap, cut fruit or vegetables, flowers, Q-tips, toilet paper rolls, finger tips, etc.)
Step 1: Fold a few sheets of paper towels into a square and moisten with water
Place on a small plate or dish.
Step 2: Pour a few spoonfuls of Natural Earth Paint on the paper towels and begin stamping with anything!
Pencil Erasers….
Golf tees….
Carpenter pencils….
Cut potatoes …. (or simply slice an apple or pear in half and stamp)
The possibilities are Endless!!!

Make Your Own Eco Stamp Pad & Stamps [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

MAKE YOUR OWN ECO STAMP PAD

in 60 seconds!

Supplies:
Paper Towels, Natural Earth Paint, Variety of household items to stamp
(pencil erasers, golf tees, wine corks, toothpaste cap, cut fruit or vegetables, flowers, Q-tips, toilet paper rolls, finger tips, etc.)
Step 1: Fold a few sheets of paper towels into a square and moisten with water
Place on a small plate or dish.
Step 2: Pour a few spoonfuls of Natural Earth Paint on the paper towels and begin stamping with anything!
Pencil Erasers….
Golf tees….
Carpenter pencils….
Cut potatoes …. (or simply slice an apple or pear in half and stamp)
The possibilities are Endless!!!

Eco Artist and Survivor Finds Love through Earth Art [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

Eco artist, Pamela Hoke, has been on an artistic journey for many years to express nature as love through her writing and art.  She wrote the book “Natural Self Discovery,” and is currently creating a revised edition, which describes her recent move to the Pacific Northwest, her recent challenge with breast cancer, and a shift to Natural Earth Paints as her new medium. Her quest to discover a more earth-friendly and body-friendly art medium came about after she received two emergency grants from The Gottleib Foundation and The Haven Foundation. After surviving the worst part of her breast cancer experience, these grants helped empower her to invest in creating her entire paint inventory with Natural Earth Pigments, as it allowed her to have one paint source through which to mix in all her favorite mediums – oil, acrylic or watercolor.

Her first collection of artworks created with Earth Oil Paints was recently exhibited during the 2016 San Juan Island Artist’s Studio Tour. She embraces the freedom that earth pigments provide for her artistic growth, as she can mix with walnut oil, non-toxic acrylic, or gum arabic to create different types of paint. She is thrilled to begin to share this special way of creating art that bonds us even more to the natural world with upcoming EcoARTventures. This is an extension from her “Nature as Muse” grant funded program to help others experience their creativity safely, with nature’s support. She will also be adding a section to her book, Natural Self Discovery, titled Natural Self Recovery, to help provide step by step, daily inspiration activities to help others fully reconnect with nature.

Pamela has always been devoted to sharing nature’s love through her art and her approach to life. As she emerges into her mid-career as an artist, and  into the field of ecotherapy, her focus is on learning to nurture her own body and mind, while sharing with others the immense benefits of reconnecting with nature on a deeper, more conscious level. Through respectful direct contact, learning to evolve into healthier habits, and intimate conscious moments with nature, people can re-remember how to love themselves, nature, and others – becoming healthier and more peaceful, both physically and emotionally.   Research is emerging daily about how natural remedies are helping us with our physical ailments and psychological balance. Pam strives to incorporate this critical message during these increasingly stressful times through her art and process. This has led to her full shift to using Natural Earth Paints.

Best known for her potent, magnified paintings and drawings, Pam expresses her love for nature through deep crevasses and contrasts, and determined, yet free spirited, flowing strokes. Whether she is drawing by pen, painting with watercolors, oils, or acrylics, she pours her love for nature as her ultimate life source, into each stroke.  Her adventurous spirit transcends into her unconventional techniques regarding color, composition of subjects, and her use of her tools and mediums. Her portrayals of natural beings and natural moments, whether it be florals, landscapes or wildlife – to her, are portraits of experiencing nature’s love and wisdom. 

Biography: Originally from Ohio, and a graduate of Ohio State University, Pam’s art career began in art galleries right from the start, with mural and retail design work with The Limited. She then served as special certificated Art Teacher at Martin County High School, and studio artist at the Fish House Art Gallery in Stuart Florida. Although she still visits her Florida base, she now resides on San Juan Island in Washington, near her Ecotherapy mentor, Dr. Michael Cohen and his virtual nature connecting school and serving as a substitute teacher at Friday Harbor High School.

 

“Each breath we take is nature lovingly inviting us to participate in living life – to me, there is no better expression of unconditional love, acceptance, and sense of belonging than when I take a breath in full consciousness in this attitude. I desire to express it and share the simple message that knowing nature is knowing love.”   – Pam Hoke

      

For more information, please visit www.PamelaHoke.com  (360) 378-2834 www.Facebook.com/PamelaHoke or www.Twitter.com/PamelaHoke.. Recent originals are available on Pam’s main site, or affordable prints can be purchased at her SquareUp store: www.Mkt.com/PamelaHoke.

 

NATURAL EARTH PAINT
Ashland, Oregon

Eco Artist and Survivor Finds Love through Earth Art [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

Eco artist, Pamela Hoke, has been on an artistic journey for many years to express nature as love through her writing and art.  She wrote the book “Natural Self Discovery,” and is currently creating a revised edition, which describes her recent move to the Pacific Northwest, her recent challenge with breast cancer, and a shift to Natural Earth Paints as her new medium. Her quest to discover a more earth-friendly and body-friendly art medium came about after she received two emergency grants from The Gottleib Foundation and The Haven Foundation. After surviving the worst part of her breast cancer experience, these grants helped empower her to invest in creating her entire paint inventory with Natural Earth Pigments, as it allowed her to have one paint source through which to mix in all her favorite mediums – oil, acrylic or watercolor.

Her first collection of artworks created with Earth Oil Paints was recently exhibited during the 2016 San Juan Island Artist’s Studio Tour. She embraces the freedom that earth pigments provide for her artistic growth, as she can mix with walnut oil, non-toxic acrylic, or gum arabic to create different types of paint. She is thrilled to begin to share this special way of creating art that bonds us even more to the natural world with upcoming EcoARTventures. This is an extension from her “Nature as Muse” grant funded program to help others experience their creativity safely, with nature’s support. She will also be adding a section to her book, Natural Self Discovery, titled Natural Self Recovery, to help provide step by step, daily inspiration activities to help others fully reconnect with nature.

Pamela has always been devoted to sharing nature’s love through her art and her approach to life. As she emerges into her mid-career as an artist, and  into the field of ecotherapy, her focus is on learning to nurture her own body and mind, while sharing with others the immense benefits of reconnecting with nature on a deeper, more conscious level. Through respectful direct contact, learning to evolve into healthier habits, and intimate conscious moments with nature, people can re-remember how to love themselves, nature, and others – becoming healthier and more peaceful, both physically and emotionally.   Research is emerging daily about how natural remedies are helping us with our physical ailments and psychological balance. Pam strives to incorporate this critical message during these increasingly stressful times through her art and process. This has led to her full shift to using Natural Earth Paints.

Best known for her potent, magnified paintings and drawings, Pam expresses her love for nature through deep crevasses and contrasts, and determined, yet free spirited, flowing strokes. Whether she is drawing by pen, painting with watercolors, oils, or acrylics, she pours her love for nature as her ultimate life source, into each stroke.  Her adventurous spirit transcends into her unconventional techniques regarding color, composition of subjects, and her use of her tools and mediums. Her portrayals of natural beings and natural moments, whether it be florals, landscapes or wildlife – to her, are portraits of experiencing nature’s love and wisdom. 

Biography: Originally from Ohio, and a graduate of Ohio State University, Pam’s art career began in art galleries right from the start, with mural and retail design work with The Limited. She then served as special certificated Art Teacher at Martin County High School, and studio artist at the Fish House Art Gallery in Stuart Florida. Although she still visits her Florida base, she now resides on San Juan Island in Washington, near her Ecotherapy mentor, Dr. Michael Cohen and his virtual nature connecting school and serving as a substitute teacher at Friday Harbor High School.

 

“Each breath we take is nature lovingly inviting us to participate in living life – to me, there is no better expression of unconditional love, acceptance, and sense of belonging than when I take a breath in full consciousness in this attitude. I desire to express it and share the simple message that knowing nature is knowing love.”   – Pam Hoke

      

For more information, please visit www.PamelaHoke.com  (360) 378-2834 www.Facebook.com/PamelaHoke or www.Twitter.com/PamelaHoke.. Recent originals are available on Pam’s main site, or affordable prints can be purchased at her SquareUp store: www.Mkt.com/PamelaHoke.

 

NATURAL EARTH PAINT
Ashland, Oregon

From the Weirdo Toolbox : Earth Art by Laura Zepeda

Laura Zepeda is an inspirational earth artist in that she has completely invented her own tools, supplies and techniques using roughly crushed earth and minerals to make “paintings” that literally glow like a gemstone. Here is her description of this interesting process….

 

I have no idea what I’m doing but a thousand ways to do it: I’m equal parts Artist and Mad Scientist. I’m making this up as I go along. I am not only creating art, but also the tools and materials I use to make it. I’ve spent sixteen years collecting and preparing colorful mineral samples to use as a rough pigment for highly textured paintings on canvas with surprising natural color, made using a variety of acrylic gel mediums. It is unlike any other art medium I’ve used: its unusual challenges have led to the invention of strange tools and equipment, mostly from an oddball assortment of found objects, repurposed household items, and packaging scraps that could qualify me for an episode of Hoarders. Brushes are of limited use: fine grains of mineral sand will ruin the bristles, so I got creative. Obsessed, really: I’m fully aware of how strange it is.

Is that a pot of soup on the stove? Better ask: maybe I’m boiling some beach sand. Is she casting a spell? Why is there sparkly dust everywhere? I’m just using my granite mortar and pestle to grind mica, and sifting it with water, a baby medicine dropper, and a wire strainer to separate different size grains of my favorite glittery mineral.

And then there’s the Weirdo Toolbox. There are no commercially available tools that fit my needs, so invention is an integral part of my creative process, and it’s so delightfully odd and quirky, but it works. There is a pure, childish joy in fusing random elements to create a perfect specialty tool. Who knew a plastic collar stay glued to a popsicle stick could make a person so happy? My magnetic studio space is a work of art by itself: my brightest earthen pigments in little plastic containers, arranged by color on a wire brochure display rack turned on its side. I’ve also created a magnetic “easel palette” to secure a small painting as well as tools, pigments, and mediums on a portable workspace. If I need a tool that hasn’t been invented yet, the Weirdo Toolbox will deliver.

 

     

 

All this auxiliary activity can feel like a distraction from the actual artwork, but it also puts me in a constant state of creative problem-solving. It’s like keeping the water running so the pipes don’t freeze. Even in the painting process there is a lot of drying time to fill. I’ve learned a lot of patience from this kooky experiment. Crushing rocks can be very cathartic, a meditative process that helps me slow down my approach to art. Primarily small, intimate “snapshots” of the natural world, these rough Nature-hued artworks are largely free of the emotional apparitions that populate my sketchbook. This contemplative artistic practice is the calm eye of my storm; the peace after I have endured it.

Laura Z can be reached via email at [email protected]; To learn more, visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FairyRustArt, or follow her new blog, The Weirdo Toolbox, at https://theweirdotoolbox.blogspot.com.

One Artist Changes His Art and Saves His Life [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

Roberto Parada is an internationally known oil painter and illustrator, having been published in Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, ESPN The Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, and Huffington Post. Few people know that his art process came close to ending his life in 2004. I had the honor of interviewing him about his journey in discovering which of his art supplies were literally killing him, how it happened and what he did to change his process while continuing to paint very high quality, archival and professional paintings.

 

Were you ever taught about the toxicity in art supplies in art school?

I went to a very prestigious art school in the late 80’s and early 90’s and was never taught about any hazards in art supplies by my painting and illustration teachers. I did have one sculpture teacher who adamantly forbade the use of fixatives, solvents and chemicals because he had gotten lymphoma from the use of those chemicals. He never really explained why we shouldn’t use them but just told us not use them in his classroom. My painting teachers all used toxic materials themselves and probably just didn’t know the health risks involved.

What was your painting technique throughout your school years and career?

I have always been an oil painter and I’m guilty of never wearing gloves or having adequate ventilation or even thinking that I should. Noone ever taught me the risks and on the warning labels on paint thinners I only saw warnings about difficulty breathing and respiratory issues. There was nothing about the fact that it can get into your bloodstream and cause death risks. The warnings are very ambiguous and limited considering the fact that I can list 5 different types of cancer that come from paint thinners. For example, 3 kinds of leukemia AML, ALL, CLL,  and Multiple Myeloma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I also used all of the heavy metal based paints – cadmiums and cobalts – and didn’t think much about it. In the 90’s the “Odorless Mineral Spirits” came onto the market and we all thought that this was a healthier alternative. Now I know that Odorless mineral spirits still have petroleum based distillates and benzene which is exactly what brought about my illness. 

Will you talk about what exactly your illness was and how you contracted it?

Paint thinner was my ultimate downfall. Through the illness process I learned that paint thinners evaporate into the air and you then absorb the benzene (which is an odorless carcinogen and in petroleum products and can do huge amounts of damage besides cancer). You absorb the benzene through your nose, skin and eyes, which most people don’t realize, and it goes directly into your bloodstream. I absorbed it in a slow progression over many years. When benzene gets into your bloodstream and into your bone marrow (where you make your blood) then your white count lowers.

In most cases, that kind of exposure over the long term would cause lymphoma or leukemia. I got something different – Severe Aplastic Anemia which is an autoimmune reaction. My T- cells, which are your warrior cells in your immune system, began destroying things that it sees as foreign and it started seeing my bone marrow as foreign. There was no way to turn this response off.

Looking back I see that I had years of weak, low blood counts and I didn’t realize it. I was always tired but thought it was normal.

What can be done if you have aplastic anemia?

First, I removed all exposure to solvents and toxins. Many people die from this illness because when your marrow’s being destroyed you don’t have any defenses or immunity to outside viruses or infections.

They do these treatments where they re-boot your whole immune system. They get antibodies from a horse and mix it with a serum (ATG) and you use it for 4 days. It basically wipes out everything (blood cells, white cells, platelets) and then you have to get blood transfusions once or twice a week for 2-3 months.

Did this help?

My platelets unfortunately never came back up so I had to do it again. It was such a shock to my marrow that it still didn’t come back after the second time. I still continued to paint and had good days right after a transfusion but on bad days I couldn’t do anything but sleep. I did everything I could do to protect himself from toxins and infections but I still felt like I was falling apart. I bled very easily from my gums and nose. I continued to get platelet transfusions until one day I had to go

to the emergency room. I had a 0 platelet count (platelets are 30% of your blood) and I was so vulnerable that a hard bump to the head would have killed me.

I was very worried to get a full bone marrow transplant which is the last option because it is extremely risky and dangerous. But I ultimately decided to because a life like this was so lousy. I’m incredibly lucky that I had a bone marrow donor, Hector, who was extremely generous and brave and is now fine and healthy. 

What changed after the transplant? 

Amazingly I had no real complications. I felt extremely tired and fragile and could barely walk 2 blocks. I then felt like I was slowly recovering but my immune system was like a 1 year old. About 1 ½ years later I had double pneumonia and had to go back into the hospital. Since then I have been recovering and have learned to be very careful. I’m okay now and out of the woods of danger but I could always contract another illness if I’m not careful. 

How did you change your painting process?

I tried using acrylic and hated it and discovered that it also contains toxic ingredients. So I decided to go back to oil but do it in a different way. I wanted to now avoid Cadmiums, cobalts and heavy metal colors and I chose new paints that had alternative but similar colors to the toxic ones. I use oil to clean my brushes instead of paint thinners and realized how simple it was to eliminate solvents and have no fumes and no exhaustion from headaches.

I adjusted my painting style just a little bit but it wasn’t a challenge. It wasn’t that hard. I paint with walnut oil and walnut alkyd medium as my medium.

I know you’re a teacher of college age Illustration students. Do you have any advice for this next generation of painters?

For students, unfortunately most find that there is little incentive to work in a safe way until they get sick. And artists are sometimes the least health conscious people since they’re mostly just thinking about the quality of the art. Most just don’t know how easy and inexpensive it is to paint in a safe way.

My advice to young artists is to make your life really simple and eliminate toxins from your painting process. If you don’t you may have a lifetime of issues and it may shorten your life.

I just want my students to know that this is the reality of how I work and it’s totally feasible to be professional, produce very high quality work and work this way.

The famous artist, John Currin used to use lots of chemical concoctions and toxic mediums and then switched back to the pure simplicity of oil and paint.

Are there any other benefits to painting safely?

My brushes have lasted longer and stayed conditioned because my solvents would eat away at the bristles in the past. Also, I save a lot of money. It’s very cost effective to work healthier. I save money on brushes and on buying solvent (which was very expensive). Artists would save money on medical bills which is important since most artists don’t have insurance. Painting with all of these chemicals is basically an expensive way to kill yourself. 

Do you see hope for the future?

 Yes, it’s so encouraging to see that the consciousness about working healthier is starting to happen now in contrast to how it was in my art school days when people would spray fixative right next to you in a classroom. I have a lot of hope for the future of non-toxic art processes and I’m so glad word is now spreading.

Note from the Author: Natural Earth Paint sent Roberto a complimentary bottle of Eco-Solve to try after hearing of his health troubles. We look forward to hearing his feedback!

One Artist Changes His Art and Saves His Life [NATURAL EARTH PAINT]

Roberto Parada is an internationally known oil painter and illustrator, having been published in Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, ESPN The Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, and Huffington Post. Few people know that his art process came close to ending his life in 2004. I had the honor of interviewing him about his journey in discovering which of his art supplies were literally killing him, how it happened and what he did to change his process while continuing to paint very high quality, archival and professional paintings.

 

Were you ever taught about the toxicity in art supplies in art school?

I went to a very prestigious art school in the late 80’s and early 90’s and was never taught about any hazards in art supplies by my painting and illustration teachers. I did have one sculpture teacher who adamantly forbade the use of fixatives, solvents and chemicals because he had gotten lymphoma from the use of those chemicals. He never really explained why we shouldn’t use them but just told us not use them in his classroom. My painting teachers all used toxic materials themselves and probably just didn’t know the health risks involved.

What was your painting technique throughout your school years and career?

I have always been an oil painter and I’m guilty of never wearing gloves or having adequate ventilation or even thinking that I should. Noone ever taught me the risks and on the warning labels on paint thinners I only saw warnings about difficulty breathing and respiratory issues. There was nothing about the fact that it can get into your bloodstream and cause death risks. The warnings are very ambiguous and limited considering the fact that I can list 5 different types of cancer that come from paint thinners. For example, 3 kinds of leukemia AML, ALL, CLL,  and Multiple Myeloma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I also used all of the heavy metal based paints – cadmiums and cobalts – and didn’t think much about it. In the 90’s the “Odorless Mineral Spirits” came onto the market and we all thought that this was a healthier alternative. Now I know that Odorless mineral spirits still have petroleum based distillates and benzene which is exactly what brought about my illness. 

Will you talk about what exactly your illness was and how you contracted it?

Paint thinner was my ultimate downfall. Through the illness process I learned that paint thinners evaporate into the air and you then absorb the benzene (which is an odorless carcinogen and in petroleum products and can do huge amounts of damage besides cancer). You absorb the benzene through your nose, skin and eyes, which most people don’t realize, and it goes directly into your bloodstream. I absorbed it in a slow progression over many years. When benzene gets into your bloodstream and into your bone marrow (where you make your blood) then your white count lowers.

In most cases, that kind of exposure over the long term would cause lymphoma or leukemia. I got something different – Severe Aplastic Anemia which is an autoimmune reaction. My T- cells, which are your warrior cells in your immune system, began destroying things that it sees as foreign and it started seeing my bone marrow as foreign. There was no way to turn this response off.

Looking back I see that I had years of weak, low blood counts and I didn’t realize it. I was always tired but thought it was normal.

What can be done if you have aplastic anemia?

First, I removed all exposure to solvents and toxins. Many people die from this illness because when your marrow’s being destroyed you don’t have any defenses or immunity to outside viruses or infections.

They do these treatments where they re-boot your whole immune system. They get antibodies from a horse and mix it with a serum (ATG) and you use it for 4 days. It basically wipes out everything (blood cells, white cells, platelets) and then you have to get blood transfusions once or twice a week for 2-3 months.

Did this help?

My platelets unfortunately never came back up so I had to do it again. It was such a shock to my marrow that it still didn’t come back after the second time. I still continued to paint and had good days right after a transfusion but on bad days I couldn’t do anything but sleep. I did everything I could do to protect himself from toxins and infections but I still felt like I was falling apart. I bled very easily from my gums and nose. I continued to get platelet transfusions until one day I had to go

to the emergency room. I had a 0 platelet count (platelets are 30% of your blood) and I was so vulnerable that a hard bump to the head would have killed me.

I was very worried to get a full bone marrow transplant which is the last option because it is extremely risky and dangerous. But I ultimately decided to because a life like this was so lousy. I’m incredibly lucky that I had a bone marrow donor, Hector, who was extremely generous and brave and is now fine and healthy. 

What changed after the transplant? 

Amazingly I had no real complications. I felt extremely tired and fragile and could barely walk 2 blocks. I then felt like I was slowly recovering but my immune system was like a 1 year old. About 1 ½ years later I had double pneumonia and had to go back into the hospital. Since then I have been recovering and have learned to be very careful. I’m okay now and out of the woods of danger but I could always contract another illness if I’m not careful. 

How did you change your painting process?

I tried using acrylic and hated it and discovered that it also contains toxic ingredients. So I decided to go back to oil but do it in a different way. I wanted to now avoid Cadmiums, cobalts and heavy metal colors and I chose new paints that had alternative but similar colors to the toxic ones. I use oil to clean my brushes instead of paint thinners and realized how simple it was to eliminate solvents and have no fumes and no exhaustion from headaches.

I adjusted my painting style just a little bit but it wasn’t a challenge. It wasn’t that hard. I paint with walnut oil and walnut alkyd medium as my medium.

I know you’re a teacher of college age Illustration students. Do you have any advice for this next generation of painters?

For students, unfortunately most find that there is little incentive to work in a safe way until they get sick. And artists are sometimes the least health conscious people since they’re mostly just thinking about the quality of the art. Most just don’t know how easy and inexpensive it is to paint in a safe way.

My advice to young artists is to make your life really simple and eliminate toxins from your painting process. If you don’t you may have a lifetime of issues and it may shorten your life.

I just want my students to know that this is the reality of how I work and it’s totally feasible to be professional, produce very high quality work and work this way.

The famous artist, John Currin used to use lots of chemical concoctions and toxic mediums and then switched back to the pure simplicity of oil and paint.

Are there any other benefits to painting safely?

My brushes have lasted longer and stayed conditioned because my solvents would eat away at the bristles in the past. Also, I save a lot of money. It’s very cost effective to work healthier. I save money on brushes and on buying solvent (which was very expensive). Artists would save money on medical bills which is important since most artists don’t have insurance. Painting with all of these chemicals is basically an expensive way to kill yourself. 

Do you see hope for the future?

 Yes, it’s so encouraging to see that the consciousness about working healthier is starting to happen now in contrast to how it was in my art school days when people would spray fixative right next to you in a classroom. I have a lot of hope for the future of non-toxic art processes and I’m so glad word is now spreading.

Note from the Author: Natural Earth Paint sent Roberto a complimentary bottle of Eco-Solve to try after hearing of his health troubles. We look forward to hearing his feedback!