Tag Archives: lapis lazuli

My Geographic Palette #5 – Australian Ochre

17 Aug

ochre 9

This Australian Ochre is the fifth pigment I’m trying out from my geographic palette – plants and minerals from different places that I’m converting into paint and/or ink. I’m using them to develop work that I’m doing with Swansea University’s FIRE Lab project, which brings together science and the arts to do research and engagement along Swansea’s River Tawe. The ochre is in the little bag at the bottom of the picture.
equipment

 

I was very moved to be gifted this Australian ochre which was collected by Aunty Anna Duncan, a Gomeroi/Kamilaroi artist. She gave the ochre to researcher Emily O’Gorman to bring to Swansea and collected it from a dry river bed near Terri Hei Hei (part of her Country) in north-western New South Wales, a special area that includes very old grinding grooves near a long-dry creek, a birthing tree, some grave sites, and a colonial-Aboriginal mission. Aunty Anna collected the ochre in the traditional way to ensure that it is spiritually safe. I am honoured to receive it and excited to use it.

 

I put a couple of the smaller fragments into a small pestle and mortar (bought in Pakistan and marble I think) and crushed them – they are much harder than I was expecting and there was a lot of grit in the powder at the end which I think was the marble not the ochre!!!

 

 

I looked up some tips for how to turn it into paint – traditionally it is ground up and mixed with spittle or blood, but I decided to adapt a recipe for printing ink from Shannon Yost and added some gin and water to the powder, mixing it well. Then I mixed in a dob of Japanese Nori paste, which is made from seaweed. Finally, I put some of the rather stiff mixture into a small pot and added more water to make it thin enough to use with a brush.

 

ochre 7

I did a quick brushwork sketch based on some sketchbook drawings inspired by culverts I had visited in the Brecon Beacons a few weeks ago with colleagues in the FIRE Lab team. It worked beautifully – the pigment is thin enough to flow but thick enough to hold the brushstrokes and give a wide variation of density and colour. Well chuffed. I used a Langdon watercolour paper, 300 gsm and quite heavily textured.

 

Here’s a link to one of the FIRE Lab blogs – this is about a regular Twitter game about Dams.

 

OOOH….

16 Aug

equipment

What am I going to do with this little lot then? Something to do with my geographic palette …….

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette #1 – Charcoal

21 Jul

charcoal 2

 

This is my first tryout with my geographic palette, a drawing based on a sketch I did en plein air on a field trip with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Lab a couple of months ago when we went off exploring culverts up in the Brecon Beacons.

 

The charcoal I bought a few years back when I visited John Ruskin’s house, Brantwood, at Coniston Water in the Lake District. At the time they made charcoal from willow grown on the estate, using traditional methods. It’s quite crumbly and benefits from being used with a heavyweight textured paper. I’m using a 300gsm Bockingford here and I’m pleased with the results, lots of tonal variation depending on the pressure I’ve used. It’s only a small drawing, I’m using an A5 size sketchbook, spiral bound from Pink Pig in Barnsley, and I’m abstracting away from the original which is starting to excite me.

 

 

 

 

My Geographic Palette

20 Jul

Geographic Palette small

I’m thinking about how to develop from the sketches I’ve done on a couple of field trips with colleagues in the FIRE Lab team and, as the research project is about ecosystems and environment, I thought I’d try as much as possible to use natural earths, plants and minerals in my artworks, so I’m putting together a geographic palette. I’ve made a pretty good start already, with graphite, lapis lazuli, ochre, charcoal, Bideford Black, some red sandstone and my own home-made walnut ink.

Over the next few days I’ll be researching and writing about them so watch this space …. 🙂

 

 

 

WIP And Blue

13 Apr

lapis

We managed a couple of hours out of the studio yesterday to go to the framers in a marketplace in Islamabad. He’s made a lovely job of the framing for the exhibition, but we still have almost as many works to finish and frame. Underneath his workshop is a tiny gem and jewellery store. I’d promised a friend that I’d look out for some lapis lazuli while I was here in Pakistan, because the very best comes from nearby Afghanistan. Locally, they call it ‘Blue’. I’ve been fascinated by it since I read about its importance to European Art in Victoria Finlay‘s fantastic book, Colour: Travels Through The Paintbox. With the help of my Pakistani host, I bought two sizeable pieces, one smooth and the other rough. Lapis generally has veins of quartz and pyrites running through it which look lovely when it’s polished, although it’s not good enough for making into paint. Only the very best quality can be ground up to make Ultramarine pigment.

Today it’s been back to the grindstone. I’m not doing any more monotypes this close to the exhibition as they’re so time consuming so I worked on some paper drypoint plates that I brought over with me, 4 tiny ones and one almost A4. I’ll inscribe and print them tomorrow, today I concentrated on drawing.

sufi in progress

This is still very much a work in progess. It’s based on a digital photo I took of a tree that is visited by Sufis who leave swathes of coloured cloth tied to it. There’s a lot of work left to do on the drawing, but it’s important to get this stage right. Once the drawing is completed, it doesn’t take long to engrave and print. Because drypoint isn’t etched, just scratched into the surface, the lines are fairly shallow so the editions are small, rarely more than 10 before the plate wears out. This applies to metal as well as paper and plastic plates.

 

This residency has been supported by Wales Arts International and Arts Council Wales.

rose acw

 

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