Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An MCS Artist Egg-speriments with Tumeric

For the past few weeks I've been researching new materials and supplies that are safer and environmentally friendly. I'm going to share some of the fun, easy stuff I come across because no matter how good our intentions, if it's fussy or annoying then it's not really do-able.

In the photos are my experiments with tumeric and egg yolk. The egg won't rot and is more runny than buttery paint, but has a thick, tactile feel just the same. The tumeric has a warm, spicy smell making it very pleasant to work with. Mix some of the spice into the yolk until satisfied with color and texture.

On paper (above) it has a nice, organic appearance. You can see the grains and they look something like sand. Not sand when mixed with paint, but what it looks like when you're outside.That post card on the left is by artist Hu Bing and I met her when she was visiting from China last year. The gold in the woman's coat has had me enamoured ever since and the turmeric is as close as I've come- still a tad green though.

Since 2002 I've had adrenal fatigue, off and on sensitivities and a weakened immune system. Just before my last solo show in 2007 it hit really hard once again and this past fall the chemical sensitivities came back. Only recently has it ever been a problem with art supplies- which I've been able to ignore for awhile. Not now. My first response was to panic, but supportive artist friends helped me see that this was another chance to be creative. Below are the results on canvass.

Gotta share this quote from Twyla Tharp:

"Whom the gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources."

Isn't that a good one? I don't know any artists who aren't limited in some way, be it time, money, whatever. Those limitations can make for greater focus.


Regina said...

Sometimes I look back at when times when I had the least physical resources as my creativity muscle was worked the most.
Last year a retire art prof told of using egg yolk. He said to wipe all the white off until the yolk was dry, then slit the membrane of the yolk. Squeeze out the liquid and discard the yolk membrane which can cause the paint to rot. I thought it was fascinating.
I hope for all the best for you in your experiments. xo

bridgette said...

oh, shayla, I just found out that I have adrenal fatigue issues just last week! My doctor has me on some supplements to boost my system. Are you on any?

The other day I worked a very long day in the studo, with my encaustics going for a long time. Even though I had myfilter going and did my best to take precautions, I felt terrible all last week. I think I have chemical sensitivities too. It kills me to even think about it.

There is an artist by the name Karen Michel who just wrote a book about environmentally friendly paints and art supplies- her book will be out sometime this year.

Thank you for sharing your experiments and experience.

Juggling Jason said...

You rock!

linda said...

There's a group of artists with chemical sensitivities.


I love your safe paint idea!

Shayla said...

Regina, thanks that was very helpful. You explained that clearly. Some of the sites talked about palming the egg yolk between your hands and I had NO idea what they were talking about. They also didn't say that the egg white would cause the paint to rot.

Bridgette, I'm sorry to hear that. It always hits the self-motivated types. Yes, I'm about to start a new set of supplements. One very good thing is that neither is chronic. MCS can be, but if it came on with your adrenal fatigue it will probably go away when you start to feel better.
Thanks so much for telling me about that book. I'm looking forward to it coming out!!

Jace-Hubby, thanks! Love ya.

Linda, thanks so much for that resource! Support is so important to keeping a positive attitude. I'll check them out.

Patrice said...

Fabulous post, Shayla. I love, love, love the egg and tumeric colors -

That quote from Twyla Tharp sums up my life as a collage artist. Now you know why I paint; I can't make decisions.

M.Kate said...

Hi Shayla, eggs and art, totally something new to me and the result is amazing. Hope you are having a great week..

MiKa Art said...

When think about how much chemical exposure we have daily, it is scary - I really hope you get better. You make such wonderful art.

Turmeric's colour is very earthy and calming...nice!

picciolo said...

Hi, I hope you are ok. I love your experiments, why won't the egg yolk rot?
: )

Jeane said...

you are right - all of us have limitations of some sort - you seem to be on a good path to finding some solutions for yourself - and some very promising leads here! - thank god there are so many ways to create - the colors you produced with the natural elements are really wonderful - be hopeful - it is the way.

Tracy said...

Limitations make greater focus...I love that, so true, Shayla! When one has physical problem especially it is the small things that come into focus, greater attention to detail to keep trying, keep going...I know and understand your struggles with the adrenal fatigue. I admire how you've been coping, and as you post here finding new ways to keep going with your art and expand your creative horizons in spite of difficulties. I have chronic fatigue which sometimes does affect my creative pursuits. I am managing better now than I was just three years ago. But it does still remain something in the forefront of my daily life, which many people visiting my shop or viewing my art don't often know about at first. Difficulties can make us stronger. When we have to stop and be more compassionate with ourselves, we can then be more compassionate with others too. :o) Thanks for sharing your journey so far...and the good news about the paints which are good for you and the environment! Happy weekend, my friend ((HUGS))

Shayla said...

Patrice, I see your point. It does help with decision making, doesn't it ;)

M. Kate, the results were much better than I hoped. It was fun.

Mika, thanks for your support :)Hey-that's the perfect word for it: earthy.

Jane, I'm not sure why it won't rot and that would be very handy to know. I've misplaced the original source material where I found all my info (lesson learned! I'll have to be more organized about this). I did find another site I'm looking through called If I come across the answer I'll post it. Thanks for asking :)

Jeanne, Thanks for your encouraging words. Yes, hope is empowering and the hunt for healthier supplies has been exciting. Today I found that conte crayons work for me :)

Tracy, thank you for your touching words. Your support and friendship means so much. I'm glad to hear you're doing better now than before. You're an inspiration.

Robyn said...

Glorious shade of yellow! This must be so frustrating for you Shayla. I know how upset I was when the RSI flaired up from doing too much carving. I'm sure people are telling you about so many remedies but if you feel the need to try something else, read up on Tissue Salts. Deficiencies in tissue salts are the cause of so many illnesses and allergies. I know many people who have had wonderful results (including myself. Miraculous in fact!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Shayla, this quote is very telling of the economic crash of big business too... scary but true...

... I have always believed in the well of limitations.. always makes one dig deeper for new and fresh ideas.. and it almost always works!!!

I'm sorry to hear you have chemical sensitivities.. You must have to be very careful and watchful all the time... I'm impressed with what you are doing I didn't know that the egg would not rot... .. This is a wonderful demonstration!! Thank you..

Shayla said...

Robyn, thanks for that reminder:) Tissue salts completely rewired my hormones for the better.Yes, some days it's frustrating, some days it's exhilirating. I'm sure I'm going to find something that works even better than before.

Gwen, I'd never thought of it in the larger sense but that's so true. Food for thought...

Mary said...

What a fun idea and I have a jar of Tumric that must be getting too old. Great use for it!

I love the warm ochre color you achieved with it.

bindu said...

The egg yolk + turmeric color is so rich and glowing! I'm so sorry about your chemical sensitivities. But you are so right - this is just a way to be more creative, and you are doing great. I know that in India they used to use a lot of natural colors (kumkum for red, kohl for black etc.)... I could check for some resources for you, but you probably already know about all that?

Shayla said...

Mary, my cupboards always had ancient dust for spices... I've switched to a company that sells one inch high bottles of organic spice and I can actually use the spices before they're tastless and grayish. It is nice to find a use for some of the old spices, though.

Bindu, I don't know anything about it. I'm trying to research natural colors, but am worried about the colorfastness. I have the tumeric in the window to see how much it will fade. If you know of tried and true natural colors I would be sooooo greatful for the info!!!

Liberty said...

I am an artist with MCS too and enjoyed this post.
There is another artist with MCS who blogs (mostly about eco stuff) and she did an experiment a while back that you might be interested. Since it's been some time now, you could ask her how colour fast it ended up being (turmeric paint and poke berry paint)

Here are links to the blog posts on that topic

making the paint/dye:




and here is the link to the article on Crafting A Green World - it has the collection of videos of her painting :)

I hope you'll keep us updated on how the colour stands up to the sun :)

Liberty said...

darn - those links didn't come through in a clickable format - sorry about that! I'm not sure how to do that.

Ro Bruhn said...

The colour is beautiful, this is almost like egg tempera, the paint that artists used to mix themselves, years ago. Here's a web page that describes it's structure

Shayla said...

Liberty and Ro, thanks for those resources! You made my day!!!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Very interesting. I've done egg-temperas with yolks and pigments, but never with spices--I'm very tempted to give it a try--and experiment for other colors as well.