Collinsville artist uses crude oil for paintings
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 7:28 AM
Jeremy Arnold paints with oil.
Not the traditional mix of pigments and linseed oil, which artists have been using to create paintings for centuries.
Arnold uses oil - the crude stuff that has been pumped out of the Oklahoma ground since the Nellie Johnstone No. 1 well was constructed near Bartlesville in 1897.
A number of his paintings are on display at the Ariana Jakub Gallery in the Philcade Building, 511 S. Boston Ave. They include images associated with the business of getting oil out of the ground, such as wells and tools, along with some Western-themed images of cowboys and their paraphernalia.
"One thing that always surprises people is the color," Arnold said. "Most people think that oil is black. But it's not - it's brown."
Crude oil, whether on canvas or the heavy watercolor paper Arnold prefers to use, dries to a sepia tone, the color associated with old photographs.
"And it's permanent," he said, laughing. "Once you touch it to the paper, it's there for good."
Arnold grew up in Minneapolis and remembers always having an interest in art and painting.
"My father ran an ad agency, so I kind of grew up around graphic artists," he said. "And I would take art classes in school and always enjoyed it. But it wasn't something I ever thought of pursuing."
Arnold moved to Oklahoma in 1997 to attend Oklahoma State University, first as an architecture student before changing his major to construction management and engineering.
"I got a job right out of college and worked in the oil business for about 12 years," he said. "Then in 2009, the company I was working for sold out, and all of a sudden I had a lot of free time on my hands.
"I've always liked the odd things - using materials that people don't associate with art to make art," Arnold said. "I've done a couple of things where I use the smoke from a burning Styrofoam cup to make an abstract image. But painting with crude oil is something I've never heard of anyone doing."
Arnold first experimented with painting on canvas but called his first attempts "a complete failure."
"It took about a month for the painting to dry," he said. "I spent weeks carefully mopping up these little puddles of oil everywhere. And I figured that I needed to spray a fixative over the surface to hold it all in place. Otherwise, when you raised up the canvas, the oil would just run."
Arnold then moved to watercolor paper, experimenting with various brands before finding the right paper. Some of his paintings are done freehand; for others, Arnold will take a drawing he has done and project it on to the surface on which he will paint.
"The hardest part is trying to get a sense of depth because there aren't any gray tones when you're working with this stuff," Arnold said. "So the image has to be a pretty bold one for it to work."
Arnold gets the oil he uses through some of his former colleagues in the oil business. The paintings he has on display at the Ariana Jakub Gallery were made using what Arnold calls "Osage County crude."
"It's stuff that they would ordinarily get rid of," he said. "It's unrefined, so there's still some dirt in it, which can sometimes add a little texture to the paintings."
The Ariana Jakub Gallery is located
on the northside lower level of the
Philcade Building, 511 S. Boston Ave.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-
Saturday. The gallery features work by
local and national artists.
Original Print Headline: Oil painting
James D. Watts Jr 918-581-8478
Jeremy Arnold paints with crude oil at his Collinsville home. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
"One thing that always surprises people is the color," says Jeremy Arnold of the oil that he uses for his paintings. "Most people think that oil is black. It's not - it's brown." MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
"I've always liked the odd things - using materials that people don't associate with art to make art," Jeremy Arnold says. "I've done a couple of things where I use the smoke from a burning Styrofoam cup to make an abstract image. But painting with crude oil is something I've never heard of anyone doing." MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World