Since the Jackson’s Art Blog began to highlight the threat of a ban on Cadmium pigments, many artists have signed the petition and expressed their concerns about the proposal. The ECHA deadline for submitting comments on the subject passed on the 19th September, but you can still keep up to date on the ruling on their website here – http://www.echa.europa.eu/web/guest/restrictions-under-consideration/-/substance/5701/search/+/term
Regular blog contributor and landscape painter Emily Faludy and contributor to The Artist magazine and painter Michele Del Campo have both written about their love of Cadmium pigments on their respective blogs. In a last ditch attempt to spread awareness (and also as an excuse to post some of the beautiful work of both these artists) here are the words of Emily Faludy and Michele Del Campo. If you have an opinion on the ban we’d love to hear from you via our Submissions and Suggestions page.
My Name is Emily Faludy, I am a painter, working for over ten years in the field of portraiture and landscape. It would be a disaster for me personally if I was unable to gain access to Cadmium paints, as they form a key part of my painting palette. Often, they are simply essential. The other week I was painting a field of poppies, but couldn’t get the orangey red right, as much as I tried to mix alternatives. Finally, I went and bought some cadmium orange to mix with my cadmium red and there we have it…poppies and sunshine in a tube.
Cadmiums have a vibrancy and an intensity that can’t be mixed, or forged with cheaper alternatives. I do understand the arguments against its toxicity etc., but I believe I speak for most artists when I say that the amount of paint that ends up as wastage in the water system is minuscule…apart from anything else, Cadmiums are so expensive that I have no intention of wasting them, and would never pour spirits contaminated with paints into the drain or toilet anyway…I re-use the spirits by distilling them repeatedly, as do most artists. Taking colours out of the artists palette is not the way forward, as any serious artist will inevitably source the paints we need from further overseas anyway, in the event of a ban. If necessary, have larger health and environmental warnings on the tubes. So to summarise, please… don’t take our fields of poppies away!
Michele Del Campo
While painting these flowers with cadmium yellow pale over the still wet dark green in the background I was thinking that only cadmiums can keep the full brightness over the green because of their natural opacity. Alternative pigments are more transparent and weaker, so they would let the blacks and greens come through and deaden the colour (moreover they are not as durable as cadmiums). In order to keep the brightness of the yellow colour using cadmium substitutes I should either paint the flowers in white over the green first, and wait for it to dry before painting with yellow, or draw exactly where each flower should go on the canvas before painting around with the greens, but this process would make me lose completely the freshness of the improvisation! I should say that I am in favour of finding an alternative to all poisonous pigments. However, are there valid alternatives? Not at the moment, this is why it is daunting the possibility of a ban of the cadmium pigments in Europe, leaving us artists without a comparable choice, at least until some researchers will find better quality substitutes (will it be possible?)