Siberian Iris, more precisely Iris sanguinea are one of the first flowers coming up in springtime in our garden. Actually, they are growing wild everywhere in the Garrigue and when we started re-building our garden, we found lots of them around. That elegant, fine flower inspired me to a new painting. Exceptionally I used a synthetic pigment (aluminum silicate), violet outremer, as I could not find a natural version. I added different binding agents such as lime, marble powder, wax and oil to get soft and more profound shades of violet on the canvas. As always, there are lots of layers and the light of the day does it magic to it, bringing the colours alive.
Making that painting was a real struggle for me, on the one hand technically and on the other hand emotionally.
I used different blue pigments in different solvents which still reacted with each other long time after I decided the painting is ready, but not in the desired way. The components changed colours and structures and I needed to find out what happened to be able to correct it e.g. use it. Thus I tried different compositions on smaller canvas which resulted in a little series of blue-greens.
The technical exploration was fun and I learned a lot. The other side of the making was more difficult. I thought of a person close to me and to whom I am strongly tight emotionally. Our relation was not that easy over a long period, when I did not get the care I needed, when I did not understand decisions imposed on me, when I was lost and sad.
It changed over the time, as we both were able to talk to each other on equal footing.
That painting expresses all my ambivalence how I see this person: the deepness and the impenetrability, the beauty and ugly, the strengths and weaknesses, infinity and finitude, steadiness.
Hard as a rock on which you can crash, but also can provide protection.
In the 18th century, quinine, obtained from South America was the expensive medicine used to treat Malaria. Because of the high costs, chemists were experimenting to develop a synthetic equivalent, so did W.H.Perkin. He did not succeed in creating quinine out of coal tar but accidentally discovered the colour mauve.
I combined violet pigments with some green mineral pigments, mixed them with a light grey in cold wax and acrylic to create a more soft, subtle, undecided appearance.
Mauve was long time a colour preferred by noble women, such as Eugenie, the Empress of France and thus became very fashionable for some decades but this trend burnt quickly.
For a long time, the greyish violet was often related to old women and not popular at all.
This might change as Pantone declared ultra-violet the colour of the year 2018 and I guess, all it’s shades will become fashion again 😉
I was searching for a long time for the perfect blue, played around with different pigments, lost my track a bit through the dead of my mother and finally felt that I need another colour in this painting.
My perfect blue has got a dash of green, a green I created by adding some terre jaune italienne to the Lapis Lazuli blue.
Blue stands for the ratio, the cool analytical part of a person. Do you remember?
Having some green in the blue was not really a conscious decision, it just came into my mind after all these sad weeks. These weeks also had a good side: I spent time with my wider family, socialized, did not rush, slowed down instead.
Thinking of C.G. Jung’s allocation of temperaments to colours, I really welcomed some “green people” attitudes for helping me through these difficult weeks.
“Green people” are very social, focus more on relationships than on solving problems. They love to discuss things thoroughly but hate to be pushed to decisions. It could be that they never decide anything at all and therefore, blue or red people are needed ;-).
I am more a purple person and thus sometimes it was a bit challenging for me, but I am happy to have such great a family!
The painting has been finished with savon noir and linseed oil, bringing the colours alive.
I am always experimenting with different natural materials, such as lime, marble powder, fine sand, ash, to create depth and structure.
The challenge lies in bonding these materials and adhere them to a flexible canvas. Sometimes, they just crumble away after drying.
Using a mix of pure lime with marble powder, which is used for creating stucco, gives nice structures and pigments can easily react with it, creating wonderful effects. To adhere it on canvas, an additive is necessary. No essay choice as I want to restrict myself to natural materials.
So I tried egg white, linseed oil, animal glue (colle de Lapin) and natural latex and each additive resulted in a quite different consistency. I grated Lapislazuli, added some pigments and water and applied it layer by layer on my exercise canvas. Fascinated by the results, I created a small series of greenish – blueish paintings.
I really like them, they look very nice, changing their appearance depending on how the light shines on it.
Last year, I took the opportunity to spend some days in Latvia at a friend’s place. I had a working meeting in Kaunas and Latvia is only a stone’s throw away.
I have been several times in Riga (a beautiful city!) and surroundings but this time I wanted to explore a bit more of the country. I rented a car and left Kaunas towards Latvia on small roads and very soon dived into pure nature. There are endless deep woods, vast greenery. You can drive for hours without seeing anything of human interventions, it’s just green and a blue sky on top. And a lot of storks, I saw hundreds, on the fields, in the air, walking along the roads, buildings nests.
It’s a perfect environment to recover from stress, it slows you down immediately. It is so green!
Our friend lives in a small town but towns and villages are like big green parks, dotted with houses. So much space between the houses, every with a garden where people grow what they eat, some are situated close to a small lake or river where they catch fishes. They live in and from the nature but taking care of it with huge respect.
It’s a really sustainable living, not rich in a material sense, but resilient.
It reminded me a bit on my childhood, when I spent my summer holidays in a small village, being outside the day, building tree houses, roaming through fields and forest.
All this I tried to put into the painting called Latvia.
Somehow, it felt like a lost paradise. But after four days, I needed a city. I was longing for people, cafes, streets, shops, galleries. I realized, I could not live in a place without having the lively feeling of a city.