Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More Colors

I've been pretty busy testing my scratch-made palette. Here is an example of an experimental picture I did the other week.

In anticipation of painting full time again, my focus has shifted more towards refining the colors I've already made. This is a process with virtually no end. While it requires a lot of patience, its also fun. I feel a little like an archaeologist or treasure hunter. I've been doing a lot of map reading, research, talking to geologists, and driving around filling little baggies with material. Here are a couple recent finds.

I took a road trip to a geologic formation that I suspected might contain quality yellow clays. It was exciting to find this sample.

Mixed with oil, this yielded a deep, golden ochre. This brought back memories of a great color I used back in Italy, named Roman Ochre.

I feel the red ochre I've been using so far is not what I want it to be. Most of the red clays I've been able to find in my state are a little too orange for my tastes. Before I stopped using this color, I decided to try an experiment.

The ochres and other clays get their color from the Iron Oxides contained within them. Iron Oxides are normally a rusty red color. These clays become lighter in color when they bond chemically with water, becoming Hydrated Iron Oxide. Yellow Ochre is an example of this.

If a lighter clay is heated, the water will be released, and the clay will become red again. This occurs in nature, and is also done in paint production. Artists colors of this type are designated by the "burnt" label in the name. An example is Burnt Sienna.

My experiment consisted of trying to do the same at home. I put my red ochre in a crucible, covered it in foil, and placed it inside the family's wood oven.

I watched as the color became more and more red. After several hours, the change seemed to have stopped, so I removed it and let it cool off.

A side by side comparison. The image on the left is the pigment before it was heated. As you can see on the right, the pigment has become much much redder. It still has an orange undertone. I would consider my experiment a success.

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