I thought I may have met my “end” yesterday, ironically while painting at Lands End beach in San Francisco.

Like many of you, I often hike to remote places to paint the perfect spot and find myself in the middle of nowhere. There are Mountain Lions to think about, snakes, made-up sadistic hatchet-yielding crazies–and then, there’re ourselves. My emergency was stupidly self-inflicted: While rocking out to Arctic Monkeys, and being completely in the zone (my painting was going well), I drank a big gulp of Turpentine (correction: I drank mineral spirits) thinking it was my water! Yikes! (Note to self: stop storing extra turps spirits in Calistoga bottles).

I called 911…”we need to send an ambulance, where are you?”. I could only describe vaguely where I was since I’d hiked 25 minutes from some unknown parking lot along the coast and I’d never been to this spot before. No one was around, so I couldn’t ask. All I could manage was, I can see the Golden Gate bridge! I was definitely in panic. I need an ambulance?

To make a long (embarrassing) story short…after hiking and getting disconnected/connected from 911 a couple of times, I eventually got connected to the Poison Control Center: “Gee, why did you drink that?” was the first question…then my age, am I breathing normally, etc. Luckily, the solution was to drink milk/juice (not water, and don’t vomit). I’m fine now.

Well, you’ve learned another lesson on my blog, don’t drink Turpentine or mineral spirits (just in case you were unsure on the matter).

Lands End (San Francisco) – Oil on Linen – 9×12

Back to the Art: I liked the painting I was working on during this fiasco, so after resting a bit, I finished the remaining 10% at home. This ended up being a good study in grays, which are so important to achieving effective color.This isn’t the best photograph (I’ll get a scan when it dries), but the most intense colors needed to be the light-struck waves and the shadowed water. For the lightest crest of the white water, I used Titanium White with a little Hansa Yellow, a beautiful cool yellow on my palette. You’d think that a warm yellow like Cad Yellow would make for a better sun-light white, but I’ve found the cool yellows more convincing. The shadow side of the water is a combination of several colors, as frankly, I had a hard time arriving at the right color. I would say the end color is a combination of Magnesium Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White.

For the shadow side of the rocks, I used a thin wash of Alizarin Crimson, killed back a bit with Sap Green, and probably a touch of Ultramarine Blue. The light-struck rock color was made from some grays on the side of my palette, adjusted here and there with warm and cool variations. Do you save your grays? After every painting, I scrape my left over paint into piles of analogous colors, usually one general warm, one violet, one green. These neutral colors provide a means of harmonizing color in subsequent paintings.

25 thoughts on “Seascape 911

  1. Although not as serious as your situation I wish I had a dollar for every time I stuck my paint brush in my tea glass instead of my turp……sometimes I get so carried away that I forget to pay attention.

  2. Oh mu gosh, Ed! I read your post quickly to the end- just to see if you made it out alive…:) then went back and reread it, and sorry..had to giggle. Great story and a happy ending with a nice painting!

  3. This was serious but it made me smile. It was like when someone falls down, you are tempted to laugh before you ask if they are hurt. Sorry. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you are OK.

    You may want to consider keeping the lovely painting!


  4. Ed, glad you are OK! Like Cara, I have many times dipped my brush in my glass of seven-up or water. Now I usually try to keep them way separate, or at least in the original can so I know the difference!

  5. Aargh! I’m glad you survived. Turps is bad enough inhaled, much worse ingested. All that said, many times I’ve had a cup of tea (or coffee) next to my turps container and have nearly rinsed my brush in it. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before I drink the turps, too.

    But what a nice painting you made! PS Yes, I save my grays, too.

  6. Thanks everyone for your well wishes! I actually had some “turpentine burps” for a couple of days. Gross. Other than that, I think the embarrassment is the worst part. Like many of you reported, the worst I’ve done in the past is dip my brush in a cup of tea while painting.

  7. Wow…Glad to hear you are okay.

    Getting hurt is one of my hugest fears because we are often so secluded with no phone reception. I often wonder what would happen if a rattle snake bit me while painting or if I twisted my ankle bad enough that I could walk out of my location.

    Maybe we should carry a flare gun…..ha.

  8. Wow! Judging from the outcome of this painting, Ed, there might be something to this drinking turp thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Really glad you are okay. There is another lesson here. Know where we are if there is an emergency. You must have felt helpless trying to explain to the 911 dispatchers where you were.

  9. Hi Ed,
    I read your article, how frightening/annoying for you. I teach art classes down the peninsula and once took a big gulp of my turpentine laced coffee…still don’t know how it got there…perhaps a devious student? No, I’m sure an accident. For a while a became very religious about not leaving my coffee (I drink it with nonfat milk, so it kinda does look like dirty turp) sitting open with out a travel lid in class. The very worst part was the feeling of tasting and oozing turp through my pores for a couple days. The best solution I found to get rid of the taste was IL fornio’s garlic infused olive oil bread dip. ๐Ÿ™‚ A much tastier alternative. Your painting, happily, looks lovely.

  10. Oh Ed, that sounds funny and awful at the same time. Turpentine burps? EWWW.
    May I recommend camping fuel bottles for carrying turps or other solvents? You can get them at REI or other backpacking stores, and they are bright red, won’t leak, won’t break, come in a couple of different sizes, and best of all, you’ll never confuse them with your water bottle.

    The painting turned out great!

  11. Elio, i know youmre kidding about the flare gun, but I did think twice about. it can be usedin situations like this one, as well as fighting/scaring off particularly scary wildlife like bears or mountain lions, but I guess not much use on a snake!

    The next gen of cell phones have GPS receivers in them, just for sitations like this. I guess I should get an OnStar button for my outdoor easel, ad be equiped like a Cadillac.

  12. I never thought about it to scare Mountain Lions away. That is a huge fear where we live but the statistics say you are more likely to be hit by lightening.

    In seven years I have seen two. An adult in the distance and a cub less then thirty yards away. The cub scared the hell out of me because I had no idea where mommy was and I was about 200 feet from my car surrounded by bush on three sides. Longest walk back to my car of my life.

  13. BTW…One thing I considered carrying is firecrackers in my pocket.

    If a lion gets close enough lighting one of those things should scare it away long enough to get you to the car.

  14. The fieecrackers are a great idea. They’re small, light. I guess Imd have to carry matches. My luck, I’d get a deaf mountan lion. i did havean enounter with a bear in Yellowstone, I think fireworks would work…but then again, ypu have to think about possible starting a wildfire.

    Too much to think about. Time to paint.

  15. Wow! I read this yesterday and dreamt I drank turps last night! Yuck! The painting is amazing though–one of your very best, or my very favorite of yours. The painting should be worth even more if sold with your memorable story — a real Van Gogh moment (he used to eat his paint)!

  16. Happened to me when I was 4 years old. Mom was painting in the kitchen and while she went off to grab the phone I took a nice big swig!

    Glad you made it through. Heck, glad I made it through!

  17. Bummer Ed!…….glad you survived, because your painting turned out fabulous, one of my favorites of your.

    By the way what did it taste like? I’ve always wondered myself what thinner would be like, as well as all of that delicious rainbow of frosting like colors we use.

    I’ve had a horse get into my palette once while I was neglecting my easel…..he did seem to particularly care for the taste.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.