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  #31  
Old 19-05-06, 10:52 AM
maperry
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Default Found Pigments in Africa

Hello,

I am new to this forum and new to tempera painting. My usual medium is acrylic, but I recently moved to Malawi Africa where commercial paints are hard to come by and very expensive. I have brought supplies with me, but working with local artists has inspired me to address the huge obstacle...lack of access to supplies. I started experimenting with ET last week using the ochre clays, charcoal and papaya leaves I collected from around town. I have gotten great satisfaction tapping into my resourceful side and knowing that my paintings from Malawi are not just about Africa but made FROM Africa. I am hoping to hone my skills both on the production side of ET and painting techniques with the medium, in order to teach Malawian artists how they can use their local resources for painting.

The other obstacle is ground and supports. I haven't found any good paper yet. Honestly the best is card stock. Someone mentioned cardboard in one of the other topics. Is cardboard really a good support? If so, do you need a layer of gesso? We can find canvas and wood. My only hesitation with using wood as a support is that it might limit the artists' market which consists mostly of western tourists who want to buy something easy to travel with. I'm still searching for some kind of drying oil (linseed, etc.) which would allow us to make oil paints and work on unmounted canvas. My only concern here is the price factor...I have no idea what to expect. I'm hoping to do art for the sake of art and process, but reality is that this is one of the poorest countries in Africa. These people need to use their skills as a financial means to support themselves and their families.

I'd love to continue the discussion on preparation of found pigments. I hand ground charcoal which gave me a great black. It resulted in a grainy texture, but was able to work with it and liked the effect. Right now I'm looking for cheese cloth to use as a filter and hopefully be able to make a finer pigment and even paint. Any ideas on making greens? I used papaya leaves which gave me a wonderful brilliant green. But, as you might expect, after only a few days my lime green is turning more and more yellow. Interestingly, the paint I made from boiled papaya leaves is holding the color, but the pigment is more grainy. It appears to not have dissolved into the water. Lastly, I'm curious to know more about grinding rocks to make pigments. I don't have access to a tumbler...although I may be able to find someone who could engineer it for me. But my overall goal, is to use only my hands and natural resources so the process can be affordable and accessible for the artists here in Malawi. Have any of you found ways of making blues? Also, ahve you experimented with organic material like flower petals?

Thanks,
Marissa
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  #32  
Old 19-05-06, 05:01 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Holy cow. What a project.

I can't recommend cardboard as a support. I think the earlier references to cardboard may mean a different sort of thing from the modern product, something more suitable for art. I guess it depends on the quality of what you have over there. If your wooden supports were not very large, if you were painting exquisite smaller pieces, do you think that would work?

Organic pigments tend to not last very long. The rocks are a better bet.

Blues and greens always were tricky pigments. You can go a long way with suggestion -- that is, a black mixed with white tends to make a cool grey, and if the rest of the painting is full of yellows, it can look blue.

I've used a mortar and pestle to grind pigments.
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  #33  
Old 21-05-06, 01:00 AM
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Dennis H Dennis H is offline
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I don't know if you have access to a good bookseller or mail order books. A great book you should read, especially in your current circumstances, is "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay.
It might inspire you further in your use of naturally ocurring pigments and help guide you on how to make use of them. Also, it's a pretty fascinating read.
Dennis
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  #34  
Old 29-05-06, 12:41 AM
Georgeoh Georgeoh is offline
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Default Re: collecting native minerals

Quote:
Originally Posted by muralman
Has anybody else any experience, positive or negative, with found colors?
I probably have more experience with "found" pigments than most artists. My company, Natural Pigments, has been extracting many different pigments from the far corners of the earth. Most of our pigments we obtain through our associate mineralogists and I have personally participated in "gathering" minerals and earths.

I find that the range of particle sizes typically encountered in natural mineral pigments offer many advantages in paint to the artist. From a paint manufacturing viewpoint, on the other hand, they are very troublesome because they tend to flocculate in the paint binder during storage, which is why most paint manufacturers, including artists' materials companies, avoid using them in their paint formulations.

The advantages of using paint with larger granular and heterogenous particle sizes include 1) increased transparency (for optical mixing between layers), 2) thixotropic paint behavior (an important property in oil painting), and 3) what I call an "illustory" painting technique. The latter technique invloves painting a layer of color of fine particles over a layer of larger granular pigment crystals. The smaller, finely granular particles of pigment slide off the facets of the larger crystals, making the underlayer of large particles appear to float in a sea of fine particles. It is a different form of optical mixing between paint layers, and one that was often used by ancient tempera painters. I have microphotographs of this effect on 15th century icon paintings, if anyone is interested in seeing it.
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  #35  
Old 20-11-06, 09:59 PM
raphaelarts raphaelarts is offline
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George,

I was just reading an article about the same subject. Natural and mineral pigments with thicker caliper, compared to the modern replacement, yield brilliant colors. He also mentions the layering of a thicker coarser layer of azurite "over" a thinner paint layer made of thinner size pigment particles. This is the opposite of what you mentioned.
Which one was the proper sequence, thick over thin or thin over thick?
Raphael
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  #36  
Old 23-11-06, 12:48 AM
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Salamander Salamander is offline
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When you are collecting and after slaking, what size mesh do you screen to?
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  #37  
Old 29-11-06, 02:43 AM
Georgeoh Georgeoh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raphaelarts
...He also mentions the layering of a thicker coarser layer of azurite "over" a thinner paint layer made of thinner size pigment particles. This is the opposite of what you mentioned. Which one was the proper sequence, thick over thin or thin over thick?
There is no "proper sequence," it depends on the effect that you are seeking to achieve. A layer of coarse particles over fine particles, allows more light to pass through the top layer onto the bottom layer and back through it again. On the other hand, a layer of fine particles laid over a thin layer of coarse particles, allows the fine particles to "slip" off the sides of the coarse particles and create an effect of coarse pigment particles in a sea of fine pigment particles.
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  #38  
Old 29-11-06, 02:53 AM
Georgeoh Georgeoh is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salamander
When you are collecting and after slaking, what size mesh do you screen to?
At Natural Pigments, we grind and levigate (it is not slaking) pigments to different particle sizes, depending on the desired color and pigment properties. So the answer is highly variable. For example, we grind and levigate (and at times use electromagnetic fields) to separate azurite particles into the following ranges: 0-45 microns (less than 325 mesh), 45-74 microns (less than 200 mesh), and 100-150 microns (less than 100 mesh). However, most ochre, siena, umber pigments benefit by further grinding and levigating to obtain the finest particle size possible. However, even these will be larger and less homogenous than modern artificial pigments.
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