Waikawa Walks Pigments

Waikawa Bay is near Waitohi/Picton on Queen Charlotte Sound, and they are connected by a track through the Victoria Domain Park. There are other tracks in the Domain and you can walk to end of the peninsula; The Snout. We tried most of these three tracks and here are a couple of photos:

We were staying in Waikawa in February 2020, and these pigments I collected during the walks. These were three different clays and one harder rock (the red pigment). I am trying to catch up with testing these pigments. It made a relaxing task compared to working towards exhibitions!

I rather like the #4 pigment, has an slight green colour to the brown. The sample “#5” in the photos above is the first paint I made at the workshop in September and is #4. Just to confuse us all. It is interesting how yellow pigments can give a variety of darker colours. After the last Workshop in September I posted images of some of the paints made. These paint tests are made with the full strength paint, so the colours are quite dark. I have watered down the red paint, and I also rub some of the pigment powder on to the test page, for the record.

Paint Making Workshop

My most recent workshop was held for a group of local school children.

They were very quick to understand the paint making process, and made lots of bottle tops of paint – on average four each.

I had not tested the Waikawa ochre pigment before, so I chose it for the paint making demonstration. I used watercolour medium of course, as that is my favourite binder. Another muller print to add to my collection.

The students used commercially ground natural pigments, as I do not have enough of my own hand ground pigments for a large group and, anyway, the fineness of these pigments makes it easier for the students to mix into the binder. We used pigments from Roussillon and Natural Earth and Mineral Pigments.

They really enjoyed painting with their own paints! Some of their paint is shown below.

Birdlings Flat Pigment

rock, pigment, file

Not sure why I had not tried this method of making pigment before. The volcanic rock is mainly red but has a lot of other minerals in it, and as you can see the ground pigment varies in red-brown colours. The ground pigment fell through the file onto the paper. I made paint with the pigment you see here.

Brown-red watercolour paint

The lower left swatch of paint wet in wet shows how the different pigments can separate out. This is on 100gsm paper in my test book, so the cockling of the wet paper has enhanced the separation of the different pigments.

I had been reading up on middle stone age pigment manufacture which included tests of possible way of extracting the powder. The article discussed direct grinding on the grindstone and I wondered why I had not tried this before (even though I knew about this method). I don’t have a grindstone, so the file was substituted. This method will work well on this type of rock which is relatively soft compared with some of the water-shaped rocks of rivers I see. So on rocks similar to the one here, I will definitely use this in preference to my hammer!

‘Direct grinding is the most efficient method to extract fine powder from softer shales and siltstones.’

Rifkin, Riaan F. “Processing Ochre in the Middle Stone Age: Testing the Inference of Prehistoric Behaviours from Actualistically Derived Experimental Data.” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31.2 (2012): 174–195. Web.

Earth Paints

I usually put left over paint from my tests into wine bottle tops and attach a piece of paper to record the location, the date made and/or date collected and the colour. Here’s a selection that I pulled out the other day.

Waimakariri Green Pigment

A page from one of my test books, showing this green sedimentary rock from the Waimakariri river. I make these tests every time a new paint is made. This in my ninth A4 book.

Open House at Arts in Oxford

Open House is a great experience. We are in the final few weeks of the artist in residence project (on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) . We think we have spoken to the public for about 60% of the time we have been in the gallery working. Its has been very satisfying to talk to visitors and to realise how many people out there are actually very curious about how printmakers make images, how we research and experiment. We have all enjoyed being artists together, a great opportunity to exchange ideas and learn in good company. Just such a great idea; we have been very honoured be invited and very pleased to take part.

Fellow invited artists with Jo Ernsten are Kathy Anderson, Casey Macaulay, Ruth Stanton McLeod, Kris Waldin, Tessa Warburton. Last weekend visitors were offered the opportunity to print and take home a calico carry bag. We have made some more which are now on sale in the gallery.

Here are some photos I have taken of some work made to date. First up is an image of my table and some old and new work on the wall.

I have been using rock pigments from the Eyre/Waiaraki River that runs by Oxford. Water only runs through the braided river bed after rain, and the close-by headwaters are in and around the Mt Oxford hills. Weeds can grow and make the shingle beds unsuitable for nesting birds, but there is still lots to see at any time of the year. We have collected some of the weeds to make paper at the Gallery, and I am using some of this paper in my Open House art. I’ve been making *muller imprints with the paint I’ve made – browns, reds and greys. I have included paint made from green Waimakariri River rock as well – that river is not far from Oxford, and the Eyre/Waiaraki River eventually joins the Waimakariri closer to the coast. The Eyre/Waiaraki River used to end in swampy ground situated to the north of the point where it is now diverted into the Waimakariri.

From various maps I have drawn a section of the braided river in Oxford, made dry-point prints of the river bed structure (always moving!) and a selection of introduced weeds as well as New Zealand native plants that are found around and in the river bed.

*Muller imprints are made with the tool that is used to grind the pigment powder into the binder. The suction created by lifting the muller off the paint creates the patterns on the muller base that I then imprint on to paper. I have made two layered concertina booklets using the pigments and the braided river as inspiration. Not finished yet! A couple of other books using print and paint are also in progress.

More to come later.

Pigments and Colour

colour working

Seeing how colours change when applied to different background colours. Had been reading at Joseph Albers’ Interaction of Color. I understand why he used coloured paper – no brush marks etc!

14 Day Challenge

Being pushed to take risks is one way to new creativity. I am enjoying this Skillshare class “Fearless Art Challenge” by Marie-Noelle Wurm.

This image using oil pastels (which defeated me badly in the past) was again attempted in the two day prompt – Metamorphosis I and II – for days 5 and 6.

Most recently this has been my attempt at Day 8’s “Colours and More Colours”. I used my own handmade paint – Indigo from pigment powder, a local rock pigment powder that was rubbed on to the paper, and Okains Bay watercolour paint.

Love the streak of indigo in the brown pigment.

Day 9 coming up…

Natural pigments for an art practice

My (current) interest circles around the earth and organic pigments of the North Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand.

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