Ingredients and behaviours
Enamel paints are the foundation of my art, the key to my creativity. I have spent over seven years perfecting my recipe, adding and adjusting additives and compounds to create a paint that is flexible enough to meet my needs but strong enough to produce the stunning pieces that you see on my website.
The recipe for my enamel paints is a closely guarded secret, known only to me. However, I can reveal that they are oil-based and contain many hazardous chemicals. Some of these have included stabilizers and curing extenders as well as hydrophobic solutions and dispersants.
To protect myself, I wear a breathing mask, gloves, and operate under a negative pressure environment with an industrial air extractor.
The curing process for my enamel paints is a delicate balance of time and airflow. Once cured, they are heat-resistant up to 400°C, fully colorfast, and UV resistant. I keep a constant airflow over the surface of the canvases to speed up the curing process, which can take anywhere from 96 hours to six months, depending on the thickness of the applications.
Health and safety
As an artist, I take health and safety seriously. Enamel paints are not a material to be taken lightly. To avoid contact with my skin, I wear latex gloves. Skin and enamel paints do not mix well, and the various additives that go into my paint recipe can be dangerous.
The curing process for my enamel paint produces two hydrocarbons in the form of vapors, one of which is denser than air and can cause suffocation if ingested in large quantities. The other is a carcinogen.
To manage these harmful vapors, I paint inside a sealed containment pod designed specifically for my paint room. This containment pod is an equivalent specification to those used in the nuclear waste industry, showing just how seriously I take my health and safety, as well as the safety of those around me. It may seem extreme, but the safety measures are necessary.
Art and chemistry collide
Understanding my paints’ chemical makeup, behavioral characteristics, and component structure allows me to experiment with them, resulting in a finished product that brings my ideas to life. Being part alchemist is exciting, and it’s a thrill to see something form from just an idea.
It’s not without its challenges though, but the creativity at the cutting edge of what’s possible with these materials is well worth it.
Pigment is an essential ingredient that dictates the color and finish of the paint when cured. I have a range of colors made exclusively for me, and I’m always experimenting with new metallic finishes. Adding chemical compounds to the paint allows me to push the limits of what they can do. I can make anything matte, semi-sheen or gloss, sometimes all on the same painting.
I use a lot of paint – well over 2000 litres a year. Through practice comes learning, and experimentation has led to new tools, machines, and ways of applying paint to canvas. The possibilities are endless, and it’s exciting to be at the forefront of artistic and chemical experimentation.
Recent months have seen the introduction of a portable, battery operated spin machine (the Spin-O-Matic) as well as a tiny version of it for even smaller paintings (called the ‘Mini-Me’).
Add to this a giant rotating barrel, a motorized large-scale spin table and a host of bizarre and unusual tools an d pouring methods and you can begin to see that having an active mid is a good thing!
Is it worth all this hassle?
Creating enamel paintings is a complex and fascinating process that requires attention to detail and a deep understanding of the materials used. Yes, they are a pain to work with, yes they are hazardous and unforgiving. But when you get them into the right place the results are unlike anything else out there.
Adding things to my paint allows me to push the limits of what they can do. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do make some colossal fuck-ups on a regular basis but through practice comes learning and we all know what that can do.
The paints are useless if you haven’t got the imagination to use them. Science is wasted if you do nothing with it. Go and question the world and you’ll be amazed at the answers it provides.