Posts Tagged ‘earth pigments’

Ancient Paint Box

February 2, 2016

I came across this ancient palette of colors through a post on Tumblr by Ancient Peoples. It’s a palette of pigments from the second century b.c.e, in New Kingdom Egypt.

1914.680_w

This from the Cleveland Museum of Art. I guess from a quick perusal of their website that this is in their permanent collection. That would make at least two things from Cleveland I really like, along with the Cleveland String Quartet (loved their recordings of the late Beethoven quartets!)

Here’s a description of the pigments:

This paint box still preserves its original cakes of pigment: one cake each of red (red ocher), blue (Egyptian blue), green (a mixture of Egyptian blue, yellow ocher, and orpiment) and two of black (carbon black, from charcoal). It belonged to Amenemope, who was vizier, or prime minister, under Amenhotep II. Amenemope probably used his paint box for recreation.

As I posted on my new tumblr microblog, I question the description of the green in the image as “Egyptian blue, yellow ocher, and orpiment” (not really – I’m sure the folks at the museum know what they’re about). It sure looks like plain old malachite to me.

Anyway, I really like this palette. As some of you know, I’m a fan of earth colors, and a great blue to add to yellow and red ochre is Egyptian blue, which is copper bound up in silica. With the addition of black and white, it would make for a great subdued portrait palette, though the blue would have to be used a bit judiciously due to its cost. And in place of that green I could add in my own copper green.

As a reminder, here’s what Egyptian blue looks like in oil:

Mulling Egyptian Blue

Mulling Egyptian Blue

Nice glazer, that. I think I’ll try out that palette soon.

And: If I ever visit Cleveland, I’ll have to try out that museum!

Advertisements

Brunaille, Eighteenth-century Palette

February 1, 2013

Portrait of Neil

Portrait of Neil


Here is a recently-completed portrait of our friend Neil. I am, among other directions, working toward the brunaille underpainting as a general starting point for my portraits. A brunaille is simply a brown underpainting, usually done in umbers or brown ochre, and is something different from either verdaccio or grisaille.

I may have posted earlier that the old master portraits and figures I’ve seen up-close in musea recently – notably Rembrandt, Rubens, Hals and David – all seemed to display a common feature, which was a brown transparent color in the shadows of the flesh, over which the lights and some midtones had been layered opaquely. I’ve seen photos of other old master works (I’m thinking of Velasquez in particular) which also seem to display this: shadows left transparent to the canvas, lights built with opaque colors. I’m sure this process isn’t universal or anywhere near it; but it’s common enough that it seems to have been a standard procedure, if one of many.

I noticed this some time back, but had held off on introducing it into my own work, probably because I fell in love with thick paint and broad brushwork – which haven’t lent themselves to the care which is required to preserve transparency in shadows. But more recently, when I took a portrait painting class with Vanessa Lemen, I discovered she was following this very procedure of leaving shadows transparent from session to session, and I couldn’t help noting how efficient it was for her.

So, after a few experiments, I tried the process with this portrait. The underpainting was brown ochre and lead white (Da Vinci Arizona Brown Ochre and Rublev Lead White #2). After the underpainting dried, I used transparent earths – siennas and yellow ochre light – in a transparent glaze which both gave a bit of color to the shadows (especially a bit of red around the cheeks and ears), and provided a nice couch into which to lay the opaque lights, wet-into-wet. (This is a trick I learned from Vanessa.) I took some care to leave the shadows transparent, except for a bit of reflected light under the chin (which is the only place that got screwed up – gotta be careful with those!). At the same time, I painted the shirt opaquely in something similare to a grisaille, but with some color variation.

If I were a more accomplished painter, I could have completed the skin tones in two layers. It really is an efficient way to work. As it was, it took some fixing. The whole thing was painted using a student palette of natural earths and lead white, plus a final glaze layer of Prussian blue over the shirt. I think of this as an “Eighteenth-century Palette,” as Prussian blue was discovered in 1704 and used through much of that century. Snapshots of the process are presented below:

Neil Portrait Process

Neil Portrait Process

I do still love thick paint, and I will not sacrifice it to this technique. I will be keeping in my mind the question of how to use the two together. I am already using shorter, smaller brushstrokes rather than the big paint smears of just a little while ago; perhaps these two methods will meet in the middle.

Note: I am currently engaged in a massive madder harvest. I should be finished within the next two weeks, and I will post about that. Good painting!

Back to the Student Palette

February 26, 2012
Student Palette - Layered

Student Palette - Layered

Here’s the next one in the batch. I wanted to use a slightly wider palette of earth colors for this one: In addition to my base palette of Rublev Ercolano Red, Venetian Red, Blue Ridge Yellow Ocher and Lead White #2, and Da Vinci Magnetite Genuine, I added Da Vinci Hematite Violet and Arizona Brown Ochre, and Winsor & Newton Burnt Umber. All the earths are natural except the WN Burnt Umber, which as has been discussed is likely synthetic. The violet shirt is done with the Violet Hematite, black and white. (Cool that that’s a natural earth, huh?) The “blue” shirt is just black and white.

Once again I’ve turned to Steve McCurry for my reference. I cannot say enough about his books as a learning tool for students of portrait art. Of course you can’t sell derivative works, but if you’re doing studies, these photos are just great for reference – interesting characters, good lighting, and so on.

Brunaille

Brunaille

This is a layered painting, unlike the others of mine in the thread. I used brown ochre and lead white for the underpainting. This sort of brown underpainting – transparent, opaque, or a combination of the two – has been called a brunaille.

My goal was to experiment with an impasto underpainting, and glaze, scumble, and wipe away earth colors on top of it. Though not everything is working here yet, I am really pleased with one part of the painting, which is the forehead, the part where I actually took that goal seriously and went for it.

Glazes Wiped Away

Glazes Wiped Away

Longtime readers may remember the posts on the so-called verdaccio technique from some time ago, and may see a connection here. I have long been thinking of getting back around to that technique, as I had the impression that the basic procedure was sound, but that the materials were bunk. This painting is going back in that direction – at some point I will try an actual pedigree verdaccio underpainting with glazes, and see if I can’t make something good come of it.

Next post: Mulling your own paint!

From Student Palette to Zorn Palette

January 22, 2012
Student Palette Portrait

Student Palette Portrait

As described in my last post, I’ve been working with something called the student pallette. This is a severely restricted palette using only earth colors, white, and black. I’ve been working on that some more, as you can see from the pics I’ve posted here. The color palette of the painting at top uses: Rublev’s Raw Sienna and Venetian Red; Da Vinci’s Magnetite Genuine; and Winsor & Newton’s Flake White #1. The color palette of the second painting is: Rublev’s Blue Ridge Yellow Ocher and Ercolano Red; Da Vinci’s Magnetite Genuine; and Winsor & Newton’s Cremnitz White (a blend of lead and zinc whites). So all natural earths, plus white.

Student Palette Portrait

Student Palette Portrait

It’s rather difficult to work this way. I wrote something to the effect that it is like doing calisthenics. You’re fighting to get as much saturation as possible out of earth pigments, while at the same time maintaining your valued structure. At the end of a couple of hours it can feel like you’ve been in a battle.

One of the more difficult things about using this palette is maintaining temperature contrast. Even the slightest amount of blending – intentional or not – and the colors just disappear into each other, making something that looks like a monochromatic painting. This may be partly psychological as well: when you’re fighting for saturation, the last thing you think about doing is deliberately de-saturating some tones to get that temperature contrast. However, as my instructors have pointed out, desaturating some tones is the best way to get other tones look more saturated – in other words, if you want one note to look more saturated, place a less saturated color next to it.

Mulling Vermilion Oil Paint

Mulling Vermilion Oil Paint

Despite these difficulties – or, I should say, because of them – I highly recommend working with this palette. I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit about painting just from the half dozen or so paintings that I’ve done this way. I’d like to include a third painting here, one that was done with a different palette. This one was done in the Zorn palette, wherein the red earth in the student palette is replaced with vermilion. And for the first time, I’ve gotten some genuine vermilion to work with.

Zorn Palette Portrait

Zorn Palette Portrait

I purchased the pigment from Kama Pigments (which was a good deal less expensive than purchasing a tube of real vermilion paint). Because the jury is still out on the toxicity of vermilion, I took a few more precautions than I normally do when mulling paint: I took everything out to the garage, left the door open, and wore a mask and gloves. (I still managed to get a bunch of vermilion paint on me. Of course.) This pigment makes the most incredible vibrant red imaginable. And it’s got pretty high tinting strength in mixes; however, it doesn’t paint at all like cadmium red. You have to fight cad red a bit to get it to behave itself in skin tones – but mixing skin tones using vermilion and yellow ochre was a breeze. I’m not sure I can explain exactly what makes it so different from cadmium red. I guess I’d say that Vermillion wants to mix into skin tones – whereas cadmium red has no such desire.

One sketch, and I already love this paint. I know I’ll be using it more. In my last post, I wrote that the Student Palette is great for study, but probably not robust enough for most professional work. Vermilion is for the professional stuff.

The Student Palette

November 27, 2011
Portrait using Student Palette

Portrait using Student Palette

The oldest palette, according to the story of the previous post here, has been in use for about a hundred thousand years or so. The palette consists of black, white, red ochre, and yellow ochre: these are the colors that have been used in cave paintings for all of our long prehistory, readily available and easily processed and used. Black, white, red and yellow are often the earliest colors to receive their own names in a culture, and I hypothesize that that’s precisely because those are the four colors that are universally in use. Pliny the Elder mentioned that the great Greek painters used the colors Attica earth (yellow ochre from Attica), Sinoper (red ochre from Sinope), black and white. And earth reds and yellows, plus black and white, have made up the greater part of easel painters’ palettes since the Renaissance (at least up until the Twentieth Century). This basic palette of earths and neutrals has been called the student palette, because the paints it uses are so inexpensive, and also because the restricted palette is an excellent learning tool.

Working with such a restricted palette has its own challenges and rewards. One challenge of using earth colors only is that they lose saturation quickly in either tints or shades. Another is that it’s difficult to avoid a monochrome look to the painting. But, with patience, it’s a palette that does work for portraits. The reason it works, aside from the fact that earth colors mixed with white naturally resemble skin tones, is something called simultaneous contrast. Simultaneous contrast means that colors have an effect on each other’s appearance when placed side by side; in particular, they tend to push away from each other, perceptually. What this means, practically, is that you can get a blue in your painting without actually using blue – a neutral gray will appear quite blue when placed among warmer colors (a mix of black and white actually is slightly blue, which heightens the effect). And a serviceable green can be had from a mixture of black and yellow ochre (in addition to the simultaneous contrast effect, dark yellow, or olive, actually looks quite green to the eye even by itself).

Sketch of Joy, student palette

Sketch of Joy

The benefits of working with a student palette: first of all, it teaches how to make effective use of this simultaneous contrast. (I think half or so of the so-called Old Master Techniques were developed simply to deal with the lack of inexpensive blue pigments, and this is one of them.) Also, one simply learns a lot about mixing with earth colors, which must be an integral part of any traditional palette – and about paying attention to values, since the student palette simply doesn’t work without good value contrast. Finally, crucially, one learns how to make a painting work without trying to match all the colors you see in front of you. Modern painting practice seems to be all about matching colors; but if you literally cannot match the colors in front of you with the paints you have available, what do you do then? Can you still make the painting work?

I wouldn’t necesssarily use this restricted of a palette in professional work – as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, you just can’t get all the colors you might need. But as a study it’s invaluable, and I definitely recommend it.

Portrait using the student palette

Portrait using the student palette

The four paintings on this page were done with variations of the student palette, and were painted alla prima (though the one at right took an extra few minutes in a second session to block in the background and the shirt). The painting at top was done using Blue Ridge Yellow Ocher, Ercolano Red (a light red) and bone black, all from Rublev, plus zinc white from Winsor & Newton. Notice the blue shirt, painted with black and white, and the green background, painted with black, white and yellow. The second painting on the page is a quick sketch from life of my wife singing and playing the piano (the other three are all painted from photo reference at the WetCanvas Reference Image Library), using the same palette as above. The painting just to the right of this paragraph was done with a slightly expanded student palette, using two red earths: the same yellow ochre and ercolano red from Rublev, plus Venetian Red (also from Rublev) and substituting Da Vinci Magnetite Genuine for the black, and Rublev lead white in place of the zinc. Other helpful earth colors can be added, of course, including raw umber, burnt sienna, terre verte, et cetera. Below is an experiment using a very limited palette indeed: Venetian red, burnt umber and zinc white only.

Venetian red, burnt umber, zinc white

Three tubes of paint

The temperature variation on all of these is very limited (though I managed a bit on the third painting), partly through my lack of experience with this palette, but mostly because they’re all painted opaquely. A good deal more variation can be achieved by taking advantage of transparent effects, and I’ll be exploring that direction in the future. Some additional reading: George O’Hanlon discusses painting with earth colors here, and here is a discussion of Marvin Mattelson’s use of earth colors for skin tones.

The Oldest Art Studio

October 17, 2011
Ochre pic - from Gizmodo

Ochre pic - from Gizmodo

Here’s some news that blew me away: The oldest art studio ever discovered (National Geographic). In Africa, a cave was unearthed that included all the basics required for making pigments: natural colorants, tools for grinding them (stones), and bowls for holding the pigments (abalone shells) – as well as some evidence of some fairly complex chemistry in their making, and even color mixing. Which is all extremely cool. But here’s the really cool thing: These art materials are 100,000 years old. Yep, a tenth of a million years is how long (at least) we humans have been making art materials – which means, of course, that we’ve been making art for at least that long as well. I’ve always had a younger date in mind, and have often shared that with my students: say, 30,000 to 40,000 years. But clearly, it’s been much longer than that.

I’m excited by the news of this discovery for a few reasons. One, this means that we homo sapiens have probably been making art ever since we’ve been homo sapiens. One related article at CNN mentioned that fragments of pigment have been found from even longer ago than those in this find, though without the related tools found there. Longer than a hundred thousand years is how long we’ve been painting. In a very real way, I think, making art is a part of what it means to be human – as much as tracking, or storytelling, funeral rites, or any other part of our deepest shared culture.

Second has to do with the pigments themselves. The pigments discovered were ochres and other minerals, charcoal, and bone. None of these is unexpected – but what has an impact on me is the feeling that when I paint with a natural earth pigment, I am a part of a hundred-thousand-year-old tradition. That makes me feel differently about what I’m doing when I use these pigments, in a wide but not-quite-definable way. It makes me feel – human. Really a part of our culture, not our modern veneer and glitz, but the real deal. It feels good.

Third, of course, is the fact that I’m a handcrafter of pigments myself. When I read the article, I immediately felt a strong connection, a kinship even, between myself and those color-makers from long ago. I felt part of a string. I thought about myself, and about some artist grinding earth pigments 100,000 years from now, and about those ancient color-makers from so long ago. I wished they could have known about me somehow, grinding earth pigments so long after they did. And I wondered if they felt the same excitement in the gathering and making of the colors, the same satisfaction with the finished pigments, and the same joy in using them for their art.

I bet they did.

Da Vinci “Natural Pigment” line of oil paints

August 7, 2011
Da Vinci Natural Pigment oil paints

Da Vinci Natural Pigment oil paints

I thought I’d show some of the Da Vinci “Natural Pigment” line of oil paints, since I’ve got several of them, and they came up in Mariposa’s “Snob Paints” thread (in the Oil Painting forum at WetCanvas). As I mentioned there, I think Da Vinci paints are underrated paints in general. They are all nicely long and brush out well, and are willing to separate in the tube after a while (in my opinion, this indicates an appropriately small amount of stabilizer in the paint). Da Vinci are my favorite non-premium oil paints, though I admit a few of their pigment choices and color names are questionable to me. But I think their line of Natural Pigment paints is really noteworthy. To the right is a pic of the ones I’ve got on the palette.

Each is shown from the tube, then mixed with an approximately equal amount of Winsor & Newton zinc white.

In the group of four on the top right are (from right to left): Natural Gold Ochre; Brown Ochre Geothite; Arizona Red; and Hematite Violet.

Da Vinci Natural Pigment

Da Vinci Natural Pigment

These are the four that are most impressive right out of the gate. The Natural Gold Ochre is one of the two most intense yellow ochres I’ve used (the other being Rublev’s Lemon Ochre). I’m fairly certain it is a Blue Ridge blend of yellow ochres. The Brown Ochre Geothite should really be called Orange Ochre in my opinion, it’s great for warm darks in skin tones, or for glowing highlights in hair – it’s like a warmer version of raw sienna. The Arizona Red is my best dark scarlet earth, and I love that the pigment is regional here. And the Hematite Violet – well, just look at it. It’s a glorious, intense dark red that steers hard toward magenta in tints. Love it – love it!

Next group of two, again right to left: Arizona Brown Ochre; and Red Iron Stone.

Da Vinci Natural Pigment

Da Vinci Natural Pigment

These are two that I was relatively unimpressed with at first, but which have proven themselves extremely useful. The Arizona Brown Ochre has been very good for underpaintings, as well as being a helpful starting point for mixing various nondescript midtones that can be tricky to get to precisely. It dries very quickly (must be an umber of some sort, though it’s opaque), which keeps it off my palette much of the time unless I have a specific use for it; and it has low tinting strength. The Red Iron Stone turns out to be a nearly perfect starting point for flesh halftones, and in contrast to the previous paint has a pretty high tinting strength (the tint here actually contains somewhat more white than red).

The last group of three: Olive Oxide; Lapis Lazuli Genuine; and Magnetite Genuine.

Da Vinci Natural Pigment

Da Vinci Natural Pigment

These last three are paints that I find pretty and interesting, but which I just haven’t had much use for yet. I plan to try the Olive Oxide for underpaintings. The Lapis makes a great glazing blue, being less intense than ordinary ultramarine; I just haven’t happened to need a glazing blue in any of my recent paintings. The color of the tint in this pic has been somewhat blasted out by the light source; nevertheless it is not strong in tints. The Magnetite is somewhat like a Mars black (in fact it is a natural iron oxide), but with a very low tinting strength, practically disappearing in some mixes. I’m sure this will make it useful for things like neutralizing skin tones, once I get more used to using it.

At a price range of $11 to $20 for earth colors, these might be considered slightly “snobby” paints. To me they’re worth having, and I recommend trying some of them – I have found it interesting and fun (and easier!) to paint flesh with many different earth colors, rather than just a couple of cadmiums. The most expensive among those I have are the Lapis (unsurprisingly), the Gold Ochre, and the Red Iron Stone. There are a few of the line I still need to try.

The “must-have” of the bunch: Hematite Violet. Definitely.

Da Vinci Hematite Violet

Da Vinci Hematite Violet

Crossposted to a couple of forums at WetCanvas.

Portfolio and traditional palettes

April 3, 2011

I always have so much going on in my life, both professionally and otherwise. There’s the gardening, the paintmaking, the painting, the writing, my family, exercise, research, drawing and painting classes, etc. etc. – and this is all aside from my day job. But it is time for one to take precedence over all the others (except my family and my job). It is time for me to get my portfolio together.

For about three or four years running, I’ve promised myself: “This is the year.” This time it really is. This time I’m forcing myself into the professional world: I’ve taken an illustration gig, a book cover job. Very low-paying, but with a not-insignificant promotional aspect. And there’s a deadline. If I don’t have a website up and running by the time the book comes out, it will all be for nothing. So… in a few months I need to have not only the illustration completed, but a professional body of work completed and online as well.

Cowboy Santa illustration

Cowboy Santa illustration

The illustration isn’t really down my alley – it’s a Western Christmas story book – but it’s fun, and it’s a good opportunity to try out some traditional paint colors. I’m doing a Western Santa Claus on horseback, and my working title is – of course – Cowboy Santa. I’ve just gotten to the point of covering the canvas – the second of the four milestones in completing a painting (one, finishing the sketches and comps; two, getting the canvas covered; three, getting everything to work; and four, the endgame). I’m doing this with something of a nineteenth-century palette: natural earths, bone black, red lead (that’s the bright orange color that will be glazed with madder to get a Christmas red), chromium oxide green, ultramarine, Prussian blue, rose madder, Naples yellow and lead white. It has occurred to me to keep an illustration avenue open in addition to the fine art and portraiture, since in illustration I’ll be able to make use of some lovely colors that would be problematic in professional fine art, such as carmine, weld and indigo. But none of those are called for in this image, so it will actually be pretty archival.

At Ivey Ranch

At Ivey Ranch - unfinished

My fine art portfolio will initially consist of Southwestern portraits, for a number of reasons I’ll go into later, when I’ve gotten everything prepared. Here’s an image of a partially-completed painting (in the middle of stage three), one of the four or five I’m working on now (not counting the Cowboy Santa). The palette on this one is very traditional: natural earths, bone black, lead white, lead-tin yellow and orange, rose madder, and um… yeah, that’s it. Oh: and a new one, pink pipestone, made from the same soft red rock as the Native American Calumet pipes. This color is magical, and very useful. See the pinks in the shirt and skin tones? Yeah. More on that one later, for sure.

The end of an era

Today I had to give up my old community garden plot that I’ve been working for three years. We moved to a different town last year; that plus watering restrictions means it no longer made sense to keep it. We hadn’t been there for months. Made me sad to close it down today; lots of good memories of gardening with my wife (then my fiancée) there. But I have another garden plot, one closer to home, and we have some containers in the back yard for tomatoes and eggplant. So it’s for the best. In honor of the garden plot we had to give up, the painting above will be titled At Ivey Ranch.

The next few months will be a little sketchy as I indicated; but I will check in when I can. I will also be putting a lot more effort into the attached blog, llawrencebispo.wordpress.com. Wish me luck!

Paintings of Van

May 23, 2010
Mountain Man Necktie - oil painting

Mountain Man Necktie

Here is a portrait painting I completed just a couple of weeks ago, which I’ve named Mountain Man Necktie. I figure it’s time for me to get back to what I do, to what interested me in becoming a fine artist so long ago – painting people. I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the experimental: making pigments, making gouache paints, researching historical techniques and colors, playing with different illustration techniques, etc. Which is fine: I’m not going to give up on that stuff. I’ve got the kind of brain that just can’t leave things alone – if I’m going to make art, I’ve got to think about how I’m making it, and why. It was the same way when I was writing music. But I can’t lose sight of the aim of all this, which is just to make art.

The egg tempera, by the way, is probably out for now, for a number of reasons. First of all, I have bad tendons in my wrists, and I must maintain good relaxation while painting, or I injure myself and need recuperation time, sometimes for weeks. Egg tempera doesn’t exactly lend itself to a relaxed painting technique. Also, I tried painting oils over a tempera underpainting – which is the main way in which I wanted to use egg tempera – and it presented some more unexpected challenges. As intrigued as I am by this ancient medium, I don’t think it’s for me, unless I figure out a different way of using it.

Arizona - oil painting

Arizona Daybreak

So, back to oil painting – and it feels great to be producing something again. The above is a picture of Van, a great model I took some reference pics of a while back. This is the second painting I’ve made from that photo session, and I’m working on a third. The first is on the right there, and it’s going to be the first painting I put up on Ebay to see if it’ll sell. I’m not going to sign it, since it was worked on a bit by an instructor of mine. But I’ll get a feeling for selling my art online – or not, depending! The others will follow.

The current one, about halfway finished or so, is below. All the research and thoughts about using more natural, more local and less toxic materials is beginning to have an impact on my work. These are both done with limited palettes – specifically, I’ve excluded any synthetic organic pigments. In Mountain Man Necktie, the one at the top of the page, I used yellow and red ochre, raw sienna, cadmium red, ultramarine blue, ivory (bone) black and titanium white. The one below is the same except that I’ve excluded the cadmium red and raw sienna, and added cobalt blue for the coat and rose madder for a few of the skin tones. One industrial toxic color each: cadmium for the first, cobalt for the second. Doing without the cadmium on this latest painting has been a bit of a challenge, but I think it’s working out all right, and it’ll get better as I explore more earth color variations for skin tones, Indian red, Venetian red, etc. The cobalt blue I’ll actually be happy to let go – regardless of philosophy I just don’t care for it much as a color. It doesn’t seem to do any of the things I need it to do on the palette. Obviously it worked out all right for Monet…

Work in progress - oil painting

Work in progress

I’m sure I’ll keep using the cadmum colors from time to time. The point isn’t to be purist about pigment use – the point is to be aware of it, and to reduce the use of industrial toxic chemicals when possible and convenient. If I can use cadmium red only for the necktie, and replace it with a red earth color for the skin tones – rather than using the cadmium for all the reds in the painting – then I’ve made an improvement in my materials: earth pigments are unquestionably more ecologically friendly than cadmium pigments. In this latest case, I think I’ll be able to do without the cadmium altogether. I’ll post the painting again when it’s finished.

Pigment stuff: I’ve mixed up my homemade madder lake and carmine lake both into oil paints to accompany the weld lake oil paint I made earlier. They are both extremely transparent, and beautiful. I haven’t used them in a painting yet, but will certainly do so when I can. I’ve been studying drapery, from life, so I will probably try these paints out as glazes for drapery studies. Soon.

Kauai

May 3, 2010

UVZ4PKMDSG38

Kauai

Kauai

I’m now a married man, and enjoying it immensely.

We went to Kauai on our honeymoon – there’s something life-interrupting about a marriage, most of the things I would normally be doing this time of year simply didn’t get done, and still aren’t getting done. There’s the matter of this year’s seed order, which never wound up happening (good thing we have a long growing season here in San Diego county, I can still get a few things in the ground, even this late). Another thing is that I simply didn’t get around to researching the island of Kauai before we went, other than to find out that it has great hikes (it does) and lots of waterfalls (that too). But I didn’t find out about the stunning red ochre that is all over the island. The volcanic activity means that a good deal of the geologic makeup of the island is iron, and the iron oxide there in some places looks to be close to pure. It’s amazing.

Kauai red ochre

Kauai red ochre

I didn’t get a really good pic of it, because I was busy, well, being on my honeymoon. You can find plenty of pics by googling “Kauai dirt.” But it’s some of the best stuff I’ve seen. I brought back a (very) small amount after asking whatever spirits might be on the island for their permission. Hey, it can’t hurt, and I figure it’s only polite. My mom raised me right.

There were actually many wonderful sights on the island of which I didn’t get any pictures. I tend to do that – enjoy myself so much that I forget to record the experience. Overall that’s a good thing for me, I’d rather enjoy a place than spend my time taking pictures. But at times I think it would be nice to have more pics afterward, if only because my memory is so bad. I actually took more pictures this time than usual.

Kauai yellow ochre

Kauai yellow ochre

There isn’t much yellow on the island, or wasn’t until we got onto the drier west coast, where we found some on a hike. Here is a pic of me with yellow ochre on my fingers. (This is about where I shouted to my wife, “I found yellow!” She’s so good about humoring me. Check out the ring!)

In any case, at some point I will levigate this Kauai red ochre for what should be a very special natural earth color in my collection. Kauai is a special place. If you go there, be sure to notice the earth among the many other sights. Like much else there, it’s spectacular – and a gift to humanity.

Red and yellow ochre

Red and yellow ochre

It’s good to be back. Now I can try to get my poor garden in order! One more pic of Kauai:

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon