Earth Colours and Organic Pigments

These works below were made with the first collection of pigments after moving to Oxford, North Canterbury.

The geometric shapes or blocks of paint were formed by the action of a single pass of a brush over paper. Within these contained shapes, the paint was free to show the materiality and texture of its pigment. I initiated the placing of colour with a single brush stroke and did not touch the paint again, allowing it to take its own course. The Water Falls series of works showed displacement of pigment (by water), such as found in the process of erosion.

These natural forces of nature at work were also revealed in the way pigment travels and diffuses before reaching equilibrium. The paper cockled, reacting to the moisture in the paint, also revealing its own internal structure as formed during its manufacturing process, and contributed to the process. The structure of the paintings was also defined by the flat or vertical position of the paper when painted.

The lengthy process of locating, grinding and mixing various pigments with different binders, and their subsequent testing on paper or canvas, was counterbalanced by artworks of simple, repetitive imagery that also allowed further comparison of how these pigments perform.

As paintings about land are also those of place, I used the pigments unrefined to capture the unique character, translucence and texture of each pigment and its colour.

The plants that grow upon the land were not ignored. I experimented with colours obtained from Phormium tenax, Harekeke or the New Zealand flax plant, and Ulex europaeus, gorse; the first indigenous and the second introduced to this country and initially planted for hedging.


Halswell (water fall), earth pigment in watercolour medium, paper, 73 x 53 cm, 2008
Okains Bay, earth pigments in watercolour medium, paper, 56 x 76 cm, 2008
Motunau, earth pigments in watercolour medium, paper, 56 x 76 cm, 2008
Hilltop, earth pigment, water colour medium, paper,
76 x 56 cm, 2008
Earth Pigments 3, earth pigments in watercolour medium, paper, 65 x 45 cm, 2008
Halswell, earth pigment, watercolour medium, paper, 76 x 56 cm, 2008
Phormium tenax (Water Fall), organic pigment (toner), paper 76 x 56 cm, 2008
Ulex europaeus (Gorse), organic pigment, paper, detail (76 x 56 cm), 2008. In private collection.

Phormium tenax – Harakeke, organic pigment (toner), paper, 76 x 56 cm, 2008. In private collection.