There are places in this world, I have to go there again and again and so I went last Friday. Roussillon, more precisely, the Conservatoire des ocres et de la couleur is such a place. Here I learned all the old techniques of wall plastering, here I always buy pigments and tools for my paintings and wall design, here I get advice and answers to technical questions.
This is such a beautiful place, it is so pleasant to stroll through the rooms of the old ochre mill and get inspired by all these wonderful colours. And of course, I always find new pigments, this time a new blue 🙂
I finished another painting, a bit similar to the Autumn Leafs painting, but with a much clearer structure and so I think, more powerful.
Also, I used different materials: lime, marble powder and cold marble wax for a smooth structure and shellac ink for a warm subtle tone.
This time, I really wanted to get a very deep, strong red. It’s not as easy as you might think by using different shades of red pigments. Red ochre is anhydrous iron oxyde, a mineral. It comes in shades from very dark brown-red to light yellow.
These minerals tend to turn either into a brownish red or rusty tone. So I mixed them, layer by layer and added some yellow pigments.
I wrote about the meaning of red before but I would like to add some more aspects to it.
Red, is the colour of power.
Kings, cardinals and Roman generals wore red.
Did you know, that about 75% of the worlds flags contain red?
But red is also associated with blood, danger, aggression and lust. The devil wears not always Prada but red and in the middle ages it was the colour prostitutes preferred to wear, until today we call the area were the prostitutes are presented the red – light district.
These oppositional attributes make red a tricky choice for brands.
One can say, red is the colour of life with all it’s facets: power, joy, sex, danger and death.
I hope you can see the power of life in my painting 😉
The last weeks were packed with lots of stuff. Currently, I am mainly working with Clara & Tobias in this old house and it’s really heavy work. We are still building the new separation wall and we already reached the first level (cave and ground floor are done!). It’s not only building this wall, it includes also removing old floors (very dusty), sort out the waste and bringing it to the dumpsites and shopping lots of bricks and mortar.
On top of all that, I relaunched this website with the help of my personal specialist, assembled my first portfolios of my paintings to apply in art galleries and organized the daily stuff necessary to keep the household running.
Despite me being very tired, I somehow managed to make a new painting, quasi to relax and see something nice after all this dust.
It is, to a certain extent a complement of the Autumn painting I did a few weeks before. The wonderful colours of the vine leaves right now inspired my to this composition of red and yellow ochres. Foreseeing the fate of all these leafs, I added some fading colours such as sienna and umbra.
All in all, it creates a warm feeling and let me thinking back on the summertime.
Autumn, the season between summer and winter, a time of change. It brings beautiful colours of fallen leafs, snugly evenings in front of the fire.
We start preparing for the winter time, harvest and conserve fruits and vegetables from our garden, store firewood, take out our cosy woolen cloths.
Nature is preparing herself for a long rest, to recover, to recharge its batteries for a great comeback next spring.
Autumn also reminds us on the impermanence of life. Maybe a good time to reflect and letting go ?
In the middle of the winter, when it became really cold, grey and windy, when the sun did not shine for a few days, I was longing for the blue sky and bright light. I thought of using yellow, the colour of the sun, to create a painting which could brighten up this time of the year.
For this painting, I used five shades of yellow pigments, mixed with titan white to apply it in layers for creating a warm, sunny tableau. Lime and marble powder were used for some surface structure and to let the pigments react with it. There are many different shades of yellow, all produced by mixing yellow with greater or lesser amounts of other colors. Searching for the perfect warm and sunny yellow let me apply about 18 layers of yellow ochre pigments, such as ochre de citron, ochre havane, ochre jaune clair, ochre jaune de Vaucluse, ochre oxygen apt jaune et terre jaune italienne.
On top, I added a dash winter grey.
Gold and silver are often mentioned in the same breath, somehow belonging together, they represent about the same symbols and attributes. Admittedly, I have a slightly different feeling about silver, to me it is more clean and has more clarity, typifies modernity and technology. Anyway, after painting Gold, it was obvious to paint the other half of that couple.
As always, I applied many layers of paint in varying thickness, by using spatulas, brushes and self-made fabric stamps.
I then sanded or abraded them and anew these layers. Instead of genuine silver, I used silver paint since it does not oxidize.
Here a series of photos documenting the painting process a bit:
The result is as always a little surprising also for myself, because the structures arise on the go, at random. See the full painting here.
So far, I have always worked with several colours, with Red I limited myself to one colour, but in different shades: ochre rouge, Rouge de Venise, vermilion. Again, I have worked with different layers and binders, such as marble powder, linseed oil and acrylic.
Ocre Rouge or iron oxide, is a pigmentobtained by calcination ofyellow ochre. The Venetian red is also based on iron oxide and has been used since antiquity for painting. Vermilion has been derived from mercury sulfide but here I used a synthetic pigment, which reacts a bit differently than the other two mineral pigments.
There are a lot of theories about the meaning of colours and the related personality types, and although some are very controversial, there are quite coincident assignments.
Roughly speaking, personality types differ according to their type of temperament (extrovert, introvert) and further regarding sensory perception, intuition, thinking and feeling.
The colour red is associated with extroverted, analytical thinking people. Allocated to red are such attributes like decisive, strong-willed, demanding, task & goal focused, powerful and positive thinking. “Red people” are full of energy and take immediately chances and challenges, tackle problems, and think later, maybe.
It could be that they do not pay much attention on the feelings of others.
No person is only red, just as the picture that I painted. It has different shades of red, which will be probably not perceived by many as red in the traditional sense. The middle part consists of several layers of ochre rouge, which is mixed with various binders and thus the layers are fairly discolored. The lower part consists of Venetian red, a deep, warm shade of red. The upper part is painted in several layers of vermilion on Venetian red. Depending on the source and intensity of light, the colours change.
When thinking about painting with one colour tone, red and blue came into my mind first. Seems, that I am not one hundred percent red 😉
Rush, hurry up to get the subway, the bus, the plane, be on time at the office. Countlessphone calls, talking to employees and customers, power struggles.
In between eating a bit, little fresh air, always under time pressure. Fast organizing a few personal things. Shopping food online, something healthy, if possible.
Even more quickly, make a little sport.
Getting back home, tired.
Hardly time to breathe, few highlights.
By plastering walls using different materials and pigments, I came to abstract painting. I learned about plastering at OKHRA, a cooperative in the small village of Roussillon. There I buy most of the pigments I use.
When plastering a wall, I always prepare some colour examples, trying out different mixtures and shades, experimenting with different binders and opacity. I mostly use mineral pigments such as iron oxides in red, green, black and ultramarine (Lapislazuli) and earth pigments like ochres, sienna, umber. In Deep Blue I also used a plant based pigment, Indigo. Some pigments are suitable for transparent paints, others for opaque paints, like ochre.
The colours of the South of France, were the sun shines brightly but the light is soft and diffused, are subtle like the leafs on an olive tree and intensive like an ochre wall in bright sun.
Yellow and red ochre are parts of houses, fabrics, and the earth and contrasts wonderfully with the blue sky 😉
In the paintings La Terre, I mixed and layered these ochres. The colours changing their appearance from vibrant to mute depending on the amount of light surrounding.
Even around Fitou are some places were long time ago pigments and gypsum were mined, and it’s still beautiful to see the fading colours of these forgotten places.