Swell Idea


Your art will be swell with new high-tech artists’ paints

By: Prof. Gulley Jimson, RA, Ph.D., AFT, RCA, PADI

Hey, art lovers, Professor Jimson here again, with news of a swell idea.

I want to share with you a fascinating rumor I have heard on the art grapevine concerning a new material—one that has the ability to cause great, but unexpected, interaction with the viewer.

For some time now, there have been paint coatings available for industrial purposes that act as fireproofing. These specialized paints expand when exposed to high levels of heat – for example, during a fire. These are known as intumescent paints, as they swell and protect the structure they are applied to. Now, according to my sources, a highly refined form of intumescent paint has been developed for use in fine art. Initial tests have shown that it is very sensitive to direct and ambient heat. In fact, heat from a viewer’s body, should he or she be standing close enough, will cause the paint to swell.

The less it’s understood, the more you should charge.
~ Z. Nil

What subjects would best benefit from this intumescent action? Well, consider this: What if it had been available to David, Ingres, Degas, and others who have depicted the nude male? Can you picture its effect on David’s “Oath of the Horatii”? The number of spears could double. And all those pastoral scenes with lovers hiding in piles of hay!


I also think that Rubens would have made great use of this paint. How much more effective it would be to watch his voluptuous women actually swell with passion. For today’s painters of the nude figure, the possibilities are endless. Figure painting may never be the same.

Make expansive art. Use a mop for a brush, and paint that swells.
~ Z. Nil

A concern arises, however, about the effect on the painter. The subjects would be constantly changing as they were being painted in relation to the artist’s proximity or enthusiasm. I also wonder: If the paint is heat-activated, should the studio be cold or warm? And does it make a difference if you are painting in London or St. Tropez? Further experiments need to be done, by me, to determine the proper ambient temperature for use. I will get back to you once I return from Tahiti.

Keep panting – I mean painting.

Professor Gulley Jimson

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