17 March 2014

Les poissons, les poissons

Artists need to create like they need to breathe... but they need breaks from seriousness as much as anyone else. This was my weekend break, attacking my pile of washi paper from Japan I never dare to use, and livening up our closet-like bathroom. Not an original idea, it's been done before, but so pretty. Flatmates' reaction pending.

09 March 2013

Alchemy of Paint 3/3

Previous post: Plants. This post: Mediums!

Gum Arabic

The resin is ready, and so is... the sugar.
Add hot water to make the oldest binding agent in the world.


Ochre yellow, an earth color.

Add gum arabic...
... and start grinding.

Repeating with burnt sienna...

... and building up a collection.
Egg tempera

My brain needs to stop referring to this medium as "egg tempura".
Other than that, this could be the beginning of a beautiful love story.

Passing the yolk from hand to hand till it's ready.

The delicate part...

Testing with egg tempera.


Grinding yellow ochre again, this time with linseed oil, produces this beautiful consistency, like soft butter.
Now to tube it.

Oust air, roll, crimp...
VoilĂ ! Keeps for years!

Lead white is quite a bit tougher to grind...
A superb color endangered by dumb "safety regulations."
This spectacular color, minium, is obtained by heating lead white. That's all. Just magical.

Final result of 5 days of intense work: This beautiful natural palette and soooo much inspiration.

Alchemy of Paint 2/3

Previous post: Stones. In this post: Plants.

Persian berries

Grinding this is going to be a little more difficult...
Adding lye to extract the color...

Time to strain the dye.

This is ready to dye cloth with. But to use it in paint we have to turn this into a solid...

Here comes the alum!

12 hours later... Time to strain again, but
this time we want to keep the solid.
So we proceed as if making labneh (srained yogurt).
Many more hours later, this is what it will look like.

Much grinding later, we finally have paint.

Madder root 
(the legendary red of carpets)

This looks even HARDER to grind!



Yes, we're going to make beetle juice!
A color to dye for (sorry for that).

This one will surprise you.
Purple now...
Now clearly violet...
Almost black tomorrow (left).


A whole other process, this is an ink and always in solution.
Testing with different proportions of gum arabic.
This ink is fun because it's nearly clear when brushed,
then darkens dramatically on the paper.