Lucian Freud's impasto portraits and nudes make many regard him as the greatest figurative painter of our time.
His surfaces are amazing and I've always wondered how he did it. Oil paint does not behave this way for me. I have tried Every kind of (non-toxic) impasto medium on the market without any success.
Now, I found this on about.com: "According to critic Robert Hughes, Freud's basic pigment for flesh is Cremnitz White, an inordinately heavy pigment which contains twice as much lead oxide as flake white and much less oil medium that other whites."
My question is answered....but do I want to use a paint that contains lead?
Note that Flake White is also leaded. But Zinc White and Titanium White are OK.
Queen Elizabeth by Freud (note his use of color bands).
Lead is dangerous to work with and can cause serious health problems. You don't have to eat it to become sick, it can be absorbed through the skin. Lead goes into the soft tissues like the brain and unfortunately, we can't see, taste, or smell lead.
Lead is a very strong poison. A single high, toxic dose of lead can cause severe emergency symptoms. However, it is more common for lead poisoning to build up slowly over time. This occurs from repeated exposure to small amounts of lead.
Lead is much more harmful to children than adults because it can affect children's developing nerves and brains. The younger the child, the more harmful lead can be. Unborn children are the most vulnerable.
The symptoms of lead poisoning may include:
Low appetite and energy
Loss of previous developmental skills (in young children)
Permanent brain damage
Abdominal pain and cramping (usually the first sign of a high, toxic dose of lead poison)
Very high levels may cause vomiting, staggering gait, muscle weakness, seizures, or coma
My personal theory is that a lot of artists that got the label of "crazy" were merely exhibiting symptoms of lead poisoning.
There has GOT to be another way to achieve a surface like this without using lethal lead paint.
I'll let you know when I find one.
Risky behavior is for amateurs.
"No safe threshold for lead exposure has been discovered—that is, there is no known amount of lead that is too small to cause the body harm."