Articles

Icons

The Return of our Icon Prints

The Return of our Icon Prints

This summer at Red Earth Icons has been focused on a project: To reintroduce the studio’s fine art icon prints. After the move to Alberta last year, all the papers and equipment used to create our prints stayed in their moving boxes while the space took shape and other work in the studio took precedence.

Saints Zenaida and Philonella

Saints Zenaida and Philonella

Sts. Zenaida and PhilonellaThe Charitable Physicians— October 11th — The story of Zenaida and Philonella is not well known in the Catholic Church, but it really should be. These two early Christian saints were bright, intelligent women who are the first canonized medical doctors for their work as physicians in the church. Through them we

The Angel in The Fiery Furnace

The Angel in The Fiery Furnace

In sketching a cartoon for the icon of the Fiery Furnace, I found that it divided quite naturally into three horizontal layers. In the centre layer were the three young men and their prayerful worship of God. As my pencil moved to the upper third of the icon’s drawing, The Angel of the Lord began

The Story of The Fiery Furnace Icon

The Story of The Fiery Furnace Icon

In the Book of Daniel, there is an account of four young men who are forcibly taken from their home in Jerusalem to serve in the Babylonian courts after the city falls to the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar. The most famous youth is Daniel himself, whose exploits are recorded throughout the book, but in the third chapter, we also have an account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—his countrymen and fellow captives. The icon of The Fiery Furnace centres on the story of these young men.

Conestoga Blue

Conestoga Blue

Ever since I did the 100 Mile ART Project for the city of Cambridge in 2008, the studio has used indigo for its blue pigment. Finding a local blue in southern Ontario was one of the project’s biggest challenges. As with most of the work, it was the fantastic community that formed around the project

Gospel Text for Christ the Almighty

Gospel Text for Christ the Almighty

The words written within an icon give voice to the saint through what they hold in their hands. Each saint holds a scroll depicting something they have written—coming from either the Old Testament, an Epistle, or one of the saint’s writings. But, in an icon of Christ the Almighty (in Greek, Παντοκράτωρ, or Pantocrator), we

Mary the Guide

Mary the Guide

All icons of Mary the Theotokos (the “Birth-giver to God”) are a profound statement about humanity’s relationship with God. Mary, a teenage girl embodies the beauty of faith—saying yes to the angel’s promised miracle despite its unfathomable reality nine months earlier. Christ Emmanuel, the baby boy, is truly God with us. In this icon we

Naming of Saints in English

Naming of Saints in English

This is an issue very near to my heart. In 2005 our second son was born. He lived for thirty-eight days before entering the glory of his Father. His name was Anthony. In that too-short time with us, we were informed by some well-meaning members of our community that we had gotten his name wrong,

Vincent de Paul

Vincent de Paul

Saint Vincent de Paul was a French Catholic priest who tirelessly served the poor during a time of great upheaval in France. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Canonized in 1737, he was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity. To purchase a card or poster of

The Title “Saint”

The Title “Saint”

Introduction Today, it is taken for granted that the title, “saint,” must prefix any saint’s name. Failure to do so seems highly disrespectful. This is our culture, and must be respected. But it must also be examined. We cannot simply change the practice here and now because it was different in another time and place.

The Blessing of Iconographic Style

The Blessing of Iconographic Style

Introduction When it comes to Orthodox iconographers, the question of style is a difficult one. Wanting to affirm the living tradition of iconography, we can instead be circumscribed by a dead traditionalism. This struggle involves every member of the Church. The faithful who commission icons are often attached to certain historic versions of an icon.

Cyril the Wonder-worker

Cyril the Wonder-worker

Saint Cyril the Wonder-worker is the recently canonized 116th Patriarch of Alexandria. Finishing every icon is a blessing, but this one was especially so. Making an icon of a modern saint who is so loved by the Coptic community, was wonderful. To purchase a card or poster of this icon, please visit the studio’s shop.

Local Colour in Icons

Local Colour in Icons

Yesterday an article of mine appeared in the Orthodox Arts Journal entitled, “Local Color in Icons”. The piece is a reflection of how living in Conestoga for the last 15 years has shaped my iconographic work, and is ultimately about how much I’ve found that the material world (especially its local colour pigments) can inspire sacred artwork. As

Andrew the First-Called

Andrew the First-Called

Saint Andrew was one of the twelve disciples who followed Christ during his ministry. He also proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God after his death as an apostle. He first encounters Christ as a follower of Saint John the Baptist. But, after hearing Saint John’s words about Christ, he believes and leaves

David the King and Prophet

David the King and Prophet

Saint David is the Old Testament king and prophet who did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. His remarkable life is full of great accomplishments and promise. He slays Goliath the giant in battle. Although from humble origins, he is anointed King of Israel by Samuel the Prophet. But, he’s not perfect,

Christ the King of Glory

Christ the King of Glory

The icon of Christ the King of Glory offers an unique prototype within the iconographic tradition. It’s the image of Christ laid in the tomb, or to put it more bluntly, the icon of Christ’s dead body. This offers an unique challenge to the iconographer, as the eyes are painted closed. In all other cases

Stephen the Protomartyr

Stephen the Protomartyr

Saint Stephen is the first deacons of the church, being blessed with six others to dispense food and supplies to those in need as the Apostles had other pressing duties. He is also the first Christian martyr, a man who was stoned to death for proclaiming Christ to the religious leaders of his day. But,

Paul the Leader of the Apostles

Paul the Leader of the Apostles

Love suffers long and is kind.Love envies not.Love exalts not itself and is not puffed up.Does not behave unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil.Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails. —1 Corinthians, chapter 13)

Francis of Assisi

Francis of Assisi

Some pious Orthodox folk raise an eyebrow (or worse!) at an icon of Saint Francis of Assisi. As someone who lived after the church’s division, he’s understood to be outside our tradition. So, when I was asked to create an icon of him, I had to consider what to do. There’s a story about Saint

John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Anyone who walks into an Orthodox church will know the prominence given to John the Baptist. Standing in front of the iconostasis (or icon-screen), there stands Christ, Saint Mary the Theotokos, and this saint. The icon of Christ is a good looking man who offers compassion and blessing. The icon of Saint Mary is noble

Taproot

Taproot

The latest issue of Taproot Magazine arrived in our postbox last Friday. Inside it is an article I wrote about my experience of different communities and their local colours! I entitled the piece, “Painting with Local Color” and in it I reflect on the experience of running my fingers along the pigment shelves in my

A Piece of Linen

A Piece of Linen

Yesterday, I was invited to give a homily at St. John the Evangelist Church in Elora. It was a joy to playfully share some of the significance that the studio’s work finds in detail, like the strip of linen attached to the icon’s panel. Here’s a copy of that sermon’s text: The text from which

Miniature Diptych: Finished

Miniature Diptych: Finished

The diptych is finished and delivered. The ebony wood is striking with the icon’s figures, I think, and the work is pleasingly heavy in the hand.  It was well received by the patron, and I was assured that it would be carried everywhere its owner went from now on.  The work made an immediate connection. 

Local COlours

Conestoga Blue

Conestoga Blue

Ever since I did the 100 Mile ART Project for the city of Cambridge in 2008, the studio has used indigo for its blue pigment. Finding a local blue in southern Ontario was one of the project’s biggest challenges. As with most of the work, it was the fantastic community that formed around the project

How to Plant Woad Seed

How to Plant Woad Seed

Since a few people have asked for more details about how to plant woad seed before the winter snows get too deep, my daughter and I decided to create a short video about how we do it here at the studio. Please feel free to ask for additional information in the comments section below, and

Sharing Woad Seeds

Sharing Woad Seeds

If you’re someone who follows what the Conestoga Iconographic Studio is doing, you’ll know that we really like the colours we create here in the village. And, one of our favourite local colours is the woad blue we make every year. Creating indigo blue from woad plants goes back into Neolithic history, and the colour

Woad Blue

Woad Blue

It seems to me that all blues are the colour of the air—and this is certainly the case for woad blue. As the fall season comes to Canada, the hazy sky of summer clears and becomes a blue as deep as eternity offset by the flaming yellows and reds of the trees’ autumn leaves. It

Firing Ochre and Bone

Firing Ochre and Bone

  This week I fired some ochres and bones at my studio in Conestoga. I love this process, and was excited to see the results of heating a few different soils and clays from here in the village in my outdoor firing pit. I’d also been given a large bag of bones last fall from a friend who

Paint Pots Pilgrimage

Paint Pots Pilgrimage

I’ve wanted to visit the Kootenay Paint Pots since I first read about them a decade ago—and last week I did! Since a conference at the Banff Art Centre was bringing me to Alberta, I took the opportunity to cross into Kootenay National Park and visit the Paint Pots on three different occasions. Arriving in Calgary early in the

Found Wanting Black

Found Wanting Black

Last week I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful bunch of people out in Edmonton, Alberta in celebrating, finishing, and perhaps resurrecting Betty Spackman’s Found Wanting exhibition. I was lucky enough to attend the exhibition when it appeared at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia in 2011. At that time, the

Tea Hill Red Pilgrimage

Tea Hill Red Pilgrimage

Until this year, Prince Edward Island had been one of the few  provinces in Canada where I hadn’t yet gone on a local colour pilgrimage — looking for potential earth pigments in a community. The island is famous for its reds, so I was especially excited to take this trip and see the colours for myself. My hotel

Luiseño Red

Luiseño Red

Last week I had a magical experience in San Diego … It involved beautiful people, a red landscape, and ancient tools! It was a joy to meet up again with Dr. Norrie—she is an amazing combination of child-like enthusiasm and deep knowledge! Together we headed back up to the mountains around the La Jolla Reservation. Once again I was

woad blue

Woad Blue Harvest

The annual harvest of our woad patch is something I look forward to every year. While it seems that the weather rarely cooperates (at least it wasn’t snowing, like last year …) I find it magical every time that profoundly deep blue appears.

Northern Ontario Greens

Northern Ontario Greens

As I wrote about in my previous post, my family and I spent a couple of weeks exploring northern Ontario last month. While the residency at Pukaskwa National Park was a big part of that experience, we also took the opportunity to undertake a number of local colour pilgrimages along the way. What surprised me

Northern Colours

Northern Colours

Some years ago an American friend considered the map of Canada I had on my studio wall. Into this map, I had pushpins marking the different places where I had collected local colours. Given that almost all the pins were along the Canadian/US border, he noted that I hadn’t been very far north yet. I’m

Making paint with the Luiseño People

Making paint with the Luiseño People

Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity to paint with a group of Luiseño children on the La Jolla Reservation north of San Diego. For over a decade, Dr. Norrie Robbins has been running the Science Explorers Club at reservations around San Diego with the express purpose of nourishing a love of the outdoors and  sharing values that protect the

Conestogo Shell White

Conestogo Shell White

I’ve been experimenting with creating a shell white from some mussel shells I found along the Conestogo River a couple of years back. With work beginning on some local-colour plant paintings, I again find myself in need a local white pigment … Shell White could be the answer: It has a long history of use

Preparing a pigment for 2020

Preparing a pigment for 2020

Time is very interesting to me: Whether it’s our perception of it’s passing, or technology’s general effect on our cultural need for immediacy, or perceiving it within the objects we create; time is intimately linked to our daily happiness and satisfaction. Today I decided to begin the creation of a pigment that will take a

One ounce of Specularite: The end

One ounce of Specularite: The end

After 10 hours of grinding the specularite specimen from Londonderry Nova Scotia, here’s a photograph of what I’ve revealed: The bright, fiery red inside it.  This vermilion coloured pigment is so fine that when dry it will float away like smoke on the slightest movement of the air. The ritual around creating this colour went

Rockhounding: Marmora

Rockhounding: Marmora

Visiting Marmora was an amazing experience.  Mining in this location goes back to the 1820s, and as one hikes around the site, the idea of all this rock being moved by men and horses is mind-boggling. A photograph simply can’t do justice to the size of the open pit (now half filled with water), or

Rockhounding: Eldorado

Rockhounding: Eldorado

Before the snows come, I’ve decided that I want to get out for a least a couple days of rock hounding.  The connection with the earth is so important within my art that, as much as I love my studio, I need to head out up to the Canadian Shield and into the bush to

Exploring Potential Colours

Exploring Potential Colours

Today I got to work exploring the colour potential of two different rocks I collected last year: Lemonite from Madoc and Annabergite from Cobalt.  Using intervals of 100°F, samples from both rocks were put into a small kiln and held there to change their colour (this is an old, primitive process that goes back to

McGinnis Lake Red

McGinnis Lake Red

I worked a little today on the red earth I collected around McGinnis Lake near Peterborough.  Nothing fancy; just a simple wash (to get rid of the roots, etc.), and a basic decanting to get some sense of the colour. There’s something here that’s especially interesting to me: The idea that this dirt comes from

Madoc: Eldorado Gold

Madoc: Eldorado Gold

In life, it seems to me that there are two kinds of people: Those who eat their favourite bits of supper first, and those who save best for last.  I guess I belong to the latter group, because I’ve been really enjoying the anticipation of harvesting the yellow ochre pigment that Reiner and I collected

Firing Pigments: Going hotter

Firing Pigments: Going hotter

While it has been good to see the colour changes that can happen when applying heat to the iron based ochres, this controlled fashion has limits for me.  Without pushing things I can get the pigment samples up to about 1100 °C (roughly 2000 °F) and this gets me well into the brown range of

Guelph Quarry

Guelph Quarry

Today my eldest son and I went to the Guelph quarry to go rock hounding. We had a beautiful sunny day and the perfect cool weather to enjoy ourselves.  We found many different crystals (a few which can be used for pigments) and came back after a full day with three big bags full of

Ink making

Ink making

Now that the fall weather is here in force, the horse chestnut tree behind our house is loosing its leaves and its nuts.  I’ve used the hulls for the nuts before to make ink (something that Fr. Nathanael showed me many years ago).  So today the kids and I gathered up what we could and

ConestogA Pigments

ConestogA Pigments

Winter seems to be coming quickly this year, and while it was cold this morning (11 °C / 52 °F) the week’s forecast called for even colder weather as the week progresses, so I decided to collected pigment from the Conestoga River today.  Because of the rain we’ve had, the river is pretty muddy, but

ConestogA Sienna

ConestogA Sienna

Over the last few years I’ve collected a nice pile of rocks from the Conestoga River that have a wonderful sienna colour to them. That said, it seems like the rocks have absorbed the colour from something outside themselves (oftentimes the centre is still colourless). Today I took two of my children for a walk

Woad Harvest: Indigo

Woad Harvest: Indigo

Over the past week I’ve been carefully cleaning the indigo pigment I harvested from my woad plants this year. This was possible because the morning after I was so disheartened to be left only with green form I opened my vat to discover a rich blue foam has developed overnight. I still don’t know why

Woad Harvest

Woad Harvest

Over this part summer my wife and I left a couple of plots “unplanted” in our garden. Instead we shook out last years woad seeds over the earth and let the plots be. As I had hoped, the woad plants grew up among the weeds. But last night it went down to 6 °C (43

Making Charcoal

Making Charcoal

Today the children and I began by pruning the grape vines and ended up making charcoal. With the spring here it was time to prune back the old growth on my vines so that younger, grape bearing vines could replace them.  As I was carefully choosing and pruning, my son came up asked asked what

Sebright: Glauconite

Sebright: Glauconite

  The final colour of my pallet that was still eluding me had been green. My only consolation in this frustration is that it has been is shared by every artist going back hundreds of years. There just aren’t many naturally green pigment sources out there. Historically, an artist’s choice boiled down to either malachite

Arkona: Hungry Hollow

Arkona: Hungry Hollow

  Before we headed back after visiting Kettle Point, Reiner suggested that we stop by the Hungry Hollow in Arkona.  This is a famous location for collecting fossils that is made up of the same geological formation as Kettle Point but at a lower level geologically.  Besides, it sounded like fun, so we headed over. After parking

Dundas: Galena to Flake White

Dundas: Galena to Flake White

This article is a series of journal entries from the 100 mile ART project, a project completed while artist-in-residence for the City of Cambridge in 2008. The goal of the project was to create a painting using only materials found or farmed within a 100-mile radius of Cambridge, Ont. Galena The last sample provided by Reiner

Dundas: Sphalerite

Dundas: Sphalerite

Here’s another sample provided by Reiner Mielke from the Dundas quarry; it is a mineral called Sphalerite. Sphalerite is a native form of zinc sulfide and, according to my research, can be ‘white’, to ‘honey-yellow’, to ‘brown or reddish’. My own powdered form is light brown in colour but I have yet to see if

Dundas: Celestite

Dundas: Celestite

In May, the LaFarge Quarry in Dundas will be open for a field trip to collectors associated with local gem and mineral clubs. I plan on attending this rock hounding opportunity, but Reiner has been good enough to provide me with some samples beforehand so that I can test certain minerals found at this location for their use as

Conestoga: River Rocks

Conestoga: River Rocks

As the water has continued to recede from the Conestoga River I have continued to explore the different strata that become exposed.  Since these layers are best visible from the river, this weekend I ventured to climb into the river itself and get the best vantage I possible could for collecting my rocks.  The spring-time water is

Mastodon Black: Firing

Mastodon Black: Firing

Firing eleven-thousand year old ivory is a bit of a nerve wracking experience. During this process I began to rehearse in my mind what I would say to Peter Russel if something went wrong; and if I would ask for more to make a second attempt … Early on in my attempts to make ivory

Mastodon Black

Mastodon Black

In the beginning of my search for a good black I knew that I would be burning something. There are a couple of minerals that can be used to create black, but usually the black on an artist’s pallet is made from the carbon left over after something has been subjected to the fire. And,

Conestoga: Bog-Iron

Conestoga: Bog-Iron

Four and a half years ago my family and I moved to Conestoga; it is a very lovely village, and little by little we’ve begun to discover a little of it’s history, too. One evening as I was reading a publication of the Geological Survey of Canada by C.W. Willimott (which was published in 1906

Vivianite

Vivianite

My favourite blue pigment is made from vivianite. Not that I wish to imply that I see a lesser beauty in azure blue or ultramarine blue – both of which I enjoy immensely – but there is something in the tone of this blue to I am really drawn to. As a rock, it is

Superior Red

Superior Red

Before leaving for his trip to hike up around Lake Superior, Reiner promised he would try to locate a vein of red rocks he had found 15 years ago. He wasn’t too optimistic about it because he had looked for it since and never been able to find it, but he would try nevertheless. I

Woad Pigment: Decantoring

Woad Pigment: Decantoring

I usually don’t allow myself to become obsessed about studio issues on Sunday, but today was a very relaxed day and the work was very minimal, so I did a little bit with the woad. I also was looking for an end to my suspense! And, as I carefully got to the bottom of my

Woad Pigment: Harvesting

Woad Pigment: Harvesting

One of the very few dyes that can be used reliable as a pigment comes from the woad plant (Isatis tinctoria). It is also sometimes called wild mustard. This spring my wife planted a small crop for me in her garden and with the weather turning cooler I thought it was time to harvest some

Betty’s (Bone) Black

Betty’s (Bone) Black

A few months ago Betty Spackman sent three cow bones that she picked up during a trip she took to Albert. Most of the bones she collected are earmarked for an exhibition she is planning, but she was kind enough to send a few my way. As a thank you (and perhaps as something she

Georgetown Pigments

Georgetown Pigments

For this trip to collect pigment, I was very fortunate to have the help of a fellow member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Gem and Mineral Club, Reiner. After a couple of conversations on the topic of rocks and pigments, Reiner expressed an interest in coming along on my next hunt and so we agreed to a

Londonderry Red: Results!

Londonderry Red: Results!

As you can see from the photo above, refining the red ochre my brother and I collected from the old mine in Londonderry resulted in a wonderfully bright red pigment. It took longer to dry than I had anticipated, but I am so happy with the results that I’m not put out by that at

Burning Nova Scotia Pigments

Burning Nova Scotia Pigments

  Image problem: Instead of this, we need a picture of ___ plates: second from left is reddish, third plate from the left is more intense, right plate is dark? For some time I’ve wanted to see what might happen if I heated the pigments I collected from Nova Scotia. As anyone who has ever painted

Nova Scotia Pigments

Nova Scotia Pigments

It has been 9 months since my brother, Aaron, and I spent the week collecting pigment/rock samples from old mines in Nova Scotia and the verdict is in as to which of these samples are usable. While I am excited about these colours, not all of them were what I expected (as you will read).

Nova Scotia: Finding Colour

Nova Scotia: Finding Colour

While the gross work of pounding the pigment into colour was done, there still remained the work of finely grinding them. This work was done during a demonstration at the Homer Watson Gallery. When grinding with a glass muller, one can’t help but notice that some rocks grind up with ease, but others require a

Collecting Madder Roots

Collecting Madder Roots

  For the past three years I have been growing a few plants of Rubia tinctorum, commonly known as the Madder plant. Madder is one of the most permanent pigment producing plants. Its use goes back a thousand years in Europe and much further in the East. In the West (until the rise of Indigo,

Elephantium Pigment

Elephantium Pigment

Historically, the making of ivory black was first described in the 4th century BC. The process and the resulting pigment were largely unchanged until the last factory to make this pigment closed in Germany in 1929. To this day, Ivory Black or it’s close relative, Bone Black, are still the most widely used blacks. The

Artworks

Conestogo Map

Conestogo Map

Maps are taking shape! With my hope of publishing the Atlas of Canada’s Local Colours in time for 2015’s Year of Soil, I’ve been busy finalizing the layout and layering of my local colour maps. I’m continuing to develop in this work depicting the processes, time and colours resulting from my ‘placeful’ experiments in a

Wunderkammer Frame

Wunderkammer Frame

Over the March Break I decided to take a break from my maps and icons and solve something that’s been bothering me for some time … Over the past decade I’ve collected local colours from the soils and rocks of a lot of different places, but most of these amazing pigments are hidden away in

Atlas Bound

Atlas Bound

Atlas of Canada’s Local Colour is now bound! While only a temporary binding, it’s still pretty exciting to see and hold my maps in the book form I’ve been imagining. It was an interesting challenge to decide what kind of cover I wanted to have, and what it would reference. I tried a number of

Local Colour Map: Kitchener

Local Colour Map: Kitchener

Kitchener's Local Colour Place Map

Kitchener is a city of two hundred thousand people in the Canadian province of Ontario. In 1981, the first recycling program began here and my own initial reuse of this city’s rocks have produced some subtle shades of colour.

This is my first example of a displaced local colour (a new concept I’m playing with …). While there’s lots of these black rocks on the ground along the railway tracks in Victoria Park, it looks to me like spillage from trains long ago.

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Local Colour Map: Eldorado

Local Colour Map: Eldorado

Eldorado's Local Colour Place Map

Eldorado is today a small crossroads in the Canadian province of Ontario, located north of the town of Madoc. In 1866 it was the site of Ontario’s first gold rush, and while only a few ounces of gold were ever mined, the excitement lead to riots in the streets.

I have also found gold in Eldorado—a yellow ochre that is brilliant in colour and extremely fine in paint!

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New Local Colour Map Underway

New Local Colour Map Underway

I’m busy at work today exploring the local colours of Eldorado, Ontario. This is a place that I’ve visited many times over the years and I love the colour that comes from this location. Over the past few days I’ve managed to take the natural ochre from this community and subject it to temperatures ranging

Local Colour Map: Porte de l'Enfer

Local Colour Map: Porte de l'Enfer

Porte de l'Enfer's Local Colour Place Map

The Porte de l’Enfer (Hell’s Gate) is a rare, native ochre mine in the Canadian province of Ontario, located in a river valley on the north bank of the Mattawa River. Its steep-walled corridors hover over dark, swift-flowing waters, and the early voyageurs were terrified of the man-eating demon that dwelt in the depths of this cave. But from time out of memory the Anishinaabeg peoples have collected red pigment from its depths—leaving gifts of tobacco and beads to appease—and have used its colour as paint.

The Porte de l’Enfer is the first place I ever visited in my bourgeoning awareness of local colour; it remains a very special place to me in informing my work.

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Pigment Maps Finished!

I’ve completed half a dozen paper pigment map examples that I plan to include in the exhibition at Linienstraße 142/143, 10115 Berlin. They explore the potential local colours possible from specific dirt and mineral samples from both Canada and Germany. [nggallery id=24]

Pigment Map: Finished

Pigment Map: Finished

The map began with a coarse, pulverized rock sample from Eldorado at it’s centre and then expanded in whichever direction I decided to investigate based on colour changes, or opacity, or just plain instinct: Colours being simply recorded as they were created.  This was investigated only using four techniques: Sieving, calcifying, precipitating, or grinding, and

Pigment Maps: Formation

I’m only just beginning to envision what the paper pigment maps might be.  But, to give a rough idea of what I’m thinking about, here’s an example I was working on this morning. This feels good.  I feel like I’m creating something that is part of my own art praxis.  I see these maps maybe

End of the Aluminium Road?

End of the Aluminium Road?

The aluminium pigment maps have lost some of their lustre in recent weeks (but I’ve also been ill …).  I have structural, size and effectiveness concerns around them.  I’m also disappointed that they haven’t chaotically expanded as I had originally hoped.  Past that, I also feel like they are an attempt to create something which

Pigment Branch: Sample

Pigment Branch: Sample

Here is a sample of a mockup Pigment Branch.  The pigment used in this mockup is the same Londonderry specularite that I used in my grinding performances last semester and also that which I used in creating my first pigment maps.  It is also set up and photographed in my back yard, but complete pigment branches

Inner Circles

I’ve had one last insight in planning the inner rings: The shapes are too insignificant and unhelpful.  It is better to fill the whole inner circle with colour. I’m not totally clear yet how the aspects of the process that the shapes were to indicate will be included now, but it is important for the

Aluminium Finishes

My current struggle is with deciding what kind of finish will suit the rings (and their colour) best.  I’d originally planned to have the rings quite matt, but the darkness of the shiny example has merits I hadn’t expected.  So far I’ve tried a variety of sandblasting, polishing, and sanding options.

Marking Outer Rings

Work continues on the rings for my mind-mapping, adult tinker-toy, pigment branches. It’s important that each ring is identical so that the work continues to be focused on the processes it maps.  Because of this, I’m making a lot of decisions right now around the layout of each ring and trying to both keep it

Pigment Branch: Ring Shapes!

It’s been a struggle to get to this point, but it was worth it: These shapes are visually working really well!  Each shape will correspond to the different process I using when exploring the potential of a rock as pigment.  As such, it will support this sculptural mind-map, tinker-toy set as being something process based.

Pigment Branch Rings

So, maybe I was a little to optimistic about my rings being finished.  After conferring with my mentor, she expressed the concern that, “They take away from the wonderful rings you have done if they are really recognizable as what I can buy at the store.”  I think she is right, in fact the purchased

Pigment Branch: Still more rings

Here’s another ring design: The centre of this one is made from a pyrex petri dish. The glass really adds a lightness that I like and at this scale one can really see the pigment’s texture.  Also, the pigment application is simple, so it would work well with keeping up with the process.  That said,

Pigment Branch: More Rings

I continue to experiment with different forms of rings for my pigment branches. My latest idea is to put the pigment in-between two layers of glass, but how to attach the two layers is tricky.  So far the only metal malleable enough is lead, and this is heavy and will tarnish to a flat grey

Pigment Branch: Ring

The structure of my pigment branches has gotten quite focused at this point: Each ring will be of a constant size and be identical in it’s joints.  Each rod will also be of a constant thread (therefore interchangeable within the whole structure). This standardization means that no one part of the branch will be given

Pigment Branch: Pigment

Placing the pigment inside the ring of my pigment branches has been more difficult that I first imagined … My first attempt was to wedge a gessoed board into the ring, then I tried a sphere: In both cases the ring being completely filled deadened the ring. This morning I hit upon the idea of

Pigment Branch: Prototype

After working with my initial idea over a fortnight I’ve realized that I’d like this work to be more sculptural and not confined it to a wall. To that end each colour branch will be growing out of a single trunk. The branching effect has taken some effort to achieve, but a conversation with my

Specularite Map

Before considering my specularite ritual complete, I wanted to visibly record the experience and so I created this work.  The two circles are filled with the 1 ounce of pigment created over the ritual and signify the weight change as the red colour developed.

Pigmented Photos: Final Works

I’ve continued with creating pigmented photographic works over the past fortnight.  I’ve completed a dozen of them, and I think that they’re kind of interesting. The big addition in these works has been the writing out of my notes on the mats surrounding the photographs.  Although I think it might be hard to see in

Pigmented Photos: Prototype

Part of my year’s proposal currently talks about creating, “a variety of artworks that focus on the adventure behind creating colour”; with that in mind I’m trying something new … Last year a number of people commented on how much they liked the photographs I typically take when I’m out collecting my rocks.  They also

Potential Colours Work

With an interesting colour range created from my Madoc rock, the question before me was, “what next?”.  What could I create that would show the interesting progression (and the rock’s potential) that resulted from this processing? My first inspiration comes from the colour palette cards that I typically create for myself.  But, in the case

Red Pine: Finished badly

I’ve always enjoyed Chesterton’s quote that, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” but after so much effort I’m very disappointed with the results of this painting.  I think it has only gone from bad to worse throughout this week’s work. This is the kind of work which I usually burn afterward (a sort of

Silver Leafing

The past few days have been about silver leafing.  While I’ve been laying gold for many years now, I’ve never applied silver before this weekend.  And, while the techniques used in water gilding are the same, the black bole and the silver’s nature as a metal were definitely a little different: The black bole being

Drawing: Final tree sketches

My sketches of what I’m going to paint using the pigment I’ve collected/created from Cobalt continue to develop … I think I’m beginning to see something I like. It continues to be a challenge to work out how such a tree will be painted with such a limited colour pallet.  Unlike some other locations that

Gessoing and drawing

I’m feeling very focused on the Red pine tree in my mind right now, and so I’ve moved ahead and created the panel while I’m also finalizing the drawing. The panel itself is a single slab of poplar that I cut down a few years ago.  As I did with the three panel prototype I

Pine Trees

With the introduction of crows, I’ve begun to realize that what is drawing me to these birds is their connection to my childhood memories. The other strong connection I can remember is to red pine trees. As a child, I spent countless hours under these trees playing, and since this project is focused on trees,

Changing palette

With my interest in crows going strong, I’ve realized that the Conestogo colours I collected earlier really aren’t what I need in this particular painting.  Those colours will be great in another work, but for my crow I’ve decided to take some time and explore the rocks I collected in Cobalt, Ontario this spring (if