I have been working ‘small’ for a few weeks and seem to have created a series of paintings using earth pigments, collage, inks and incorporating Elder Futhark runes, which I’m getting a bit fascinated with. Most of these are about 30 x 30 cm square on various papers.
At the moment, I’m kinda stuck between several things. Work on this large canvas (in oils) is taking way longer than I initially anticipated and it’s frustrating. I just hope its worth it once finished. The soft pastel version was much easier to produce.
I have also just completed all the submission artwork, including a somewhat taxing essay for the current course assessment. The assessment event itself happens in November and I get results mid-December.
I spent a few days solo camping in woodland recently. Whilst there, I ‘foraged’ a tiny bit of orange red pigment (probably the remains of a brick) from the area near my campsite.
I ‘refined’ the pigment in a make shift pestle and mortar (I used a melamine bowl and a smooth pebble).
In order to be able to paint with it, I needed some sort of binder. I didn’t have any glue with me. To try and get over my aversion to using egg yolk as a binder (to make egg tempera), I mixed the pigment with about a teaspoon of yolk from the last remaining egg (the things we do for art). Then I used a twig to make a painting.
It is a tiny study on watercolour paper of a baby hedge. I quite like its simplicity.
I still, however, don’t like the smell of raw egg yolk in my paint …
I have been thinking a lot about *Cézanne, especially because I will be going to the exhibition at Tate Modern in October. To try something different, I had a go at producing a quick study based very loosely on his ‘The Bibémus Quarry’ painting. My version is with earth pigments, charcoal and some soft pastels on the Fabriano Pittura paper. I’m not sure I like this paper yet, the ‘line’ texture on the surface kinda irritates me. Anyway, we’ll see if it grows on me or not.
Cézanne’s original painting was done around about 1895 in oils 65x80cm:
Sadly for me, I can no longer get single sheets of the Giant Atlantis 400gsm paper delivered – unless I buy 10 sheets and at just over £135 (plus delivery) I don’t think I’ll be doing that for a while. Needless to say I’m trying other papers I have to hand today. This time, I used a Fabriano Unica 250gsm paper – yep I know ideally it should be used for printmaking. Don’t judge!
I gave it a good work out, doing an up-scaled version of something I did earlier this year, on the request of my tutor. I don’t make a habit of ‘duplicating’ work I’ve done before so this was very interesting for me. I used almost the same materials. The paper kinda held up but it was close to disintegrating by the time I’d finished.
Materials: Refined (with a muller) and semi-raw earth pigments, Liquitex acrylic ink and D-R system 3 white acrylic on Fabriano Unica 250gsm paper. Pigments used: Perranuthnoe Ochre, Fremington Grey, Gorran Haven Grey, Bideford Black, Geevor Red, Meeth White, Peppercombe Red from the Devon coastline (I think).
I am now quite interested in the idea of making a much larger work – I have canvasses that are large – around A1 and some a bit bigger but I’m thinking of going even larger than that, which is one of the reasons why I’m disappointed with Atlantis’ new restrictions on how to buy their 400gsm watercolour paper, which is really strong.
I didn’t think it would be satisfying for me to try and recreate one of the older pigment paintings – as the first one had come about very much by accident, I wasn’t working to a plan. With the second attempt, I was aware of the paper having limitations and this tended to stop me from experimenting as much as I would have done on a stronger paper. I like working on paper, as opposed to canvas or other solid types of support but perhaps I might find something else that is much more suitable, so I’m going to do some digging about.
Sometimes an image or emotion (or both in this case) lingers in my head and until it’s come out onto the paper or canvas, I can’t really concentrate on much else.
I’ve had this idea to do a portrait of my friend in Turkey for a long time but was nervous to tackle it, in case I couldn’t capture him properly. He has very strong, striking features, which does make it easier I suppose but I have been following him on YouTube for a long time and there is much more to him than just how he looks. It’s trying to get that essence across that I was nervous about.
Anyway last weekend I managed to make it happen. It is a soft pastel portrait and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I know he is! And that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
I loosely based this new piece on my own reference photo. I was trying to capture emotion and a sense of the power of the sea in this painting. I used magenta and red, with paynes grey and white … oil paint this time. It’s about A2 (50x37cm actual painting; paper is 60x41cm)
I have started a collection of pieces that I am doing now mainly utilising earth pigments. These are small works – some on canvas panels and others on Atlantis 400gsm paper. I have also used encaustic waxes on one of the pieces. It is fascinating using these earth pigments, especially when I am able to grind and process them myself. The experience is visceral and there is a primordial connection when I touch the pigment with my fingers.
Initially, I used finely processed earth pigments from Cornwall and Devon such as Peppercombe Red (280 million years old), Fremington Yellow (40,000 years old) and Fremington Grey (350 million years old)
I then obtained some raw pigments to get a feel for processing them myself:
Below is a tiny test panel where I ground some of the raw pigment myself and used various binders. From top down: Leswidden white, Trevallas green, Gunwalloe gold, Meeth white, Perranuthanoe ochre, Leswidden white, Bideford black
These are some of the pieces that I have created so far:
‘Come with me … to the sea’
‘Take me to the River’
‘Last walk around Mirror Lake’
If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these items, or would like a commission, please contact me.
I follow Pete Ward on IG and recently ordered some of his own hand foraged/processed and packaged earth pigments from the Cornwall area where he lives. I chose Peppercombe Red, Fremington Grey and Fremington Yellow Ochre. Pete very kindly added Fremington Burnt Umber at no extra cost .. so I could play☺️
I decided to do some very basic quick tests. I don’t have Gum Arabic, so just used water to make the watercolour paint and then did a strip where I dropped some isopropyl alcohol onto it. I also used Pebeo Binder and finally Galleria structure gel, which is not dry in the photos, so I’m keen to see what it looks like dry. Here are some pics of the experiments
I ground the yellow ochre pigment a little onto my glass mixing plate with the back of a spoon, which did make it quite fine but to be honest I prefer it in the state I received it. The grittiness makes it a more primordial experience!
I did a very small study on Atlantis 400gsm paper adding some white and black acrylic.
I love the natural texture and colours. I will be doing more work with these pigments on canvas.
Been trying out some ideas on various papers recently, mainly using watercolour brush pens out in our local woodland (towards coursework)
It was really cold and windy on the day I chose to go into our woods. So yesterday I decided to stay inside and use oils, which I haven’t played with for ages but the ice seemed to come into this painting, despite all those hot colours.
Today I tried something else:
And again, the ice was there again … I think this is a subconscious response I’m working through, to what I saw in this:
I had another go at one of my favourite scenes .. evening storm over fields (from one of my photos). I’ve done this in soft pastels, oils and now trying out the @Chromatek watercolour brush pens that I got yesterday
These brush pens are great value for money, the set is well packaged and contains a wide spectrum of colours. The set also includes 3 blending water brushes, which was great for me because my old one has had it. The set comes with a good quality water colour paper pad and links to instructional videos, for those who are rusty with watercolours (like me) .
I ordered some Sennelier Pastel Card and it arrived today.
It is very different to Clairefontaine Pastelmat, which has the texture of velvet. This Sennelier card is like a fine grit sandpaper, which has both disadvantages and advantages. It holds A LOT of pastel but because it is so rough, tends to make the pastels crumble, something I’ve never experienced with Pastelmat.
Anycase, for my test piece I did this:
I used the dark green toned Pastel Card and it is 24x32cm or 9.5 x 12.5 inches
Found a scrap of Pastelmat, so of course had to do something ‘woodsy’ to it …
I really like trying chiaroscuro effects with pastels. This is not as loose as my other woodsy pieces – maybe ‘cos I was working on such a small piece of Pastelmat and that tends to make me fiddle about. Anyway it was fun to do.
Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.
A response in soft pastel:
I’m possibly going to start changing aspects of my art in coming months as I embark on Level 2 of my degree study. I anticipate a lot of experimentation and deviating from my usual style .. so apologies in advance if some of the things I post on here seem to be at odds with who I am.
Enjoy the wonderful colours of autumn (in your area) 😘