Lavender Stems Painting

Karla Harby


Oil Paintings Using Earth Friendly Solvents and Media

Artist's Statement

Art must say something, and it must not tell any lies.  

Instead of using petroleum-derived chemicals such as odorless mineral spirits (OMS), strong resin-based turpentine, or quick-dry media, for my recent pictures I mix traditional artist's pigments with nut oils, oil of spike lavender, oil of clove, and balsam oils. These are the substances used by the Old Masters of painting, before less expensive products most artists use today were developed. These oils fill my studio with wonderful fragrances!

These old-fashioned materials are nontoxic to people, pets and the environment in normal use. They have already proven to endure for centuries. Painting this way is sometimes called the "solvent free studio," but this isn't quite accurate, because nut and flower oils can act as solvents, too.

Nontoxic media are a little more difficult to work with, and they cost more, which may be why most artists have abandoned them. But I think the results are worth the extra effort and expense, and I hope you agree.


Art Students League

Of New York

My study at this legendary atelier was life-changing and life-affirming. My eternal gratitude to The League, its teachers and its students.


Life Experience

I have spent most of my adult life in New York City and nearby. These days I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA with my husband and our dogs and cat.