Tag Archives: ochre

Yellow Stone Blue Sheep

23 Aug

 

August Tawe source

Husb and I had a couple of days away in mid-Wales and drove back along the old unnamed road between Trecastell and Tafarn-y-Garreg in the Brecon Beacons where we stopped near the source of the River Tawe. We only had time for a short walk so we followed a dry stream bed down the hill and came across patches of bright yellowy brown. There were two types, one a fairly hard stone and the other a softer, crumbly clay. I left a coin in exchange – just in case there’s one of the Gwragedd Annwn thereabouts – and brought them home to try and make usable pigments with them.

That’s my weekend sorted! I’ll link this with my work in the FIRE Lab at Swansea University.

blue sheep

And then we saw some bright blue sheep!

 

 

 

 

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 …. 🙂

 

 

 

Just In Case….

2 Jun

 

ochre 1

I have been out on field trips up along the course of the River Tawe recently, with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Laboratory project. We spent some time examining culverts under the road that runs alongside the Tawe near its source up in the Brecon Beacons. There were differences between the culverts; different plants, different environments, different creatures. Most of the stream beds were made up of plain grey stones but I came across this one, towards the end, which glowed with speckles of a vivid terracotta orange.

ochre 2

I pulled out a few pieces and rubbed them against a dry grey rock and the soft pigment marked the surface easily. I collected a few to bring back, checking them for little creatures, and then a threw a few coins into the stream, as a token to appease any Gwragedd Annwn who might be hanging out in the crystal waters. Just in case …..

A Bit Of Vintage

29 Apr

18 Kathe vintage

And ….. back to my experiments with home-made printing ink. After disappointing results with a lightweight Japanese Hosho paper, I tried a lovely vintage British paper, J Green & Sons sold by the Vintage Paper Co. Above, I used the ink with a rubber stamp made from a design I did of the artist Käthe Kollwitz, applied with a roller (brayer) and stamped by hand. On the left is a slightly dampened paper, spritzed on the back with a water spray bottle. On the right is one onto dry paper. The damp one is the best.

17 Frida vintage

Then I tried the ink with a vinyl block based on a screenprint I did of artist Frida Kahlo, applied with a roller and the print taken using a traditional Japanese bamboo baren. Again, the print onto dampened paper (right) is better than the one on dry (left). Pretty good results but still one more paper to try. More tomorrow ……..

 

 

I have put my series of drawings en plein air of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to see more, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page. This one is the legendary grave of Saint Elfys (Elvis) in Pembrokeshire, not for from the Presceli Mountains. Elfys? Presceli? Elvis Presley? Coincidence? hhhmmmm

St Elvis

Oily Scribbling

28 Mar

28 oilbar

I went out of my comfort zone again tonight at life drawing and used my new yellow ochre oil bar to lay a scribbled base on top of an A3 card I’d prepared with 2 coats of acrylic gesso. I’d normally work with very fine pens, doing lots of linear detail. I prefer oilbars to liquid paint because I can draw with them, but there’s no chance of doing fine work.  I worked over the ochre ground with a black carbon bar and some chalky pastels in red, green and blue. The oily ochre base made the pastels glide over the surface beautifully giving loads of texture. Finally, I scribbled some highlights with a white oilbar.

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