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A Colour A Day: Week 23

Ruth Siddall29 August 2020

A Colour A Day Week 23. 24th August – 30th August.

Jo Volley writes…

This week we celebrate Goethe’s 271st birthday, 28th August, with earth pigments from Cyprus collected and processed by Ruth Siddall who says of them …

Cyprus is an island long associated with the production of pigments. These are by-products of the copper mining that has been active since the Bronze Age when Cyprus was the main supplier of copper ingots in the eastern Mediterranean region. But it was not copper-based pigments that were in abundance, it was the iron and manganese-rich ochres and umbers which were typical of Cyprus as well as the celadonite-rich green earth deposits. The Cypriot umber is a true umber in the geological sense having formed at a mid-ocean ridge plate tectonic boundary. In fact this is the environment of deposition of all of Cyprus’s ores and pigments. They originally formed in deep ocean waters, superheated by volcanic activity and then this slab of oceanic rock, ores and all, was emplaced onto the Eurasian continent during the construction of the Alpine mountain chain. The ochres formed by the weathering of the ores both before and after this emplacement onto dry land. Such a geological environment is uncommon, and Cyprus is by far the biggest example of these processes on Earth. A unique island for pigment formation.’

All pigments are bound in gum Arabic on W&N watercolour paper and read;

Left hand column from top to bottom:
Yellow Ochre, Sia Mine, Cyprus
Jarosite Yellow Ochre, Sia Mine, Cyprus
Burnt Umber, Margi, Cyprus

Middle column:
Red Ochre, Sia Mine, Cyprus

Right hand column from top to bottom:
Raw Umber, Margi, Cyprus
Terra Verte, Cyprus
Brown Ochre, Sia Mine, Cyprus

A Colour A Day: Week 22

Ruth Siddall23 August 2020

A Colour A Day Week 22. 17th-23rd August

Jo Volley writes…In JL Carr’s novel A Month in the Country the protagonist Tom Birkin returning from the First World War is redeployed as a wall painting conservator. He spends the summer uncovering a large medieval wall painting in a country church and along with it rediscovers a sense of faith in the future. As the painting’s image is revealed and through the unknown artist’s use and choice of colours, Tom begins to appreciate and understand the man.

‘I was working up the 3 brothers (see Luke 16), blissfully heedless of the judgement to come…The second magnate’s cloak was a splendid garment – red outside and green lining. A very good red, the best in fact, no expense spared, sinoper haematite that is, not to be confused with what some fatheads call sinoper which, as often as not, is red earth, the stuff they used to bring in by the shipload from Pontus Euxinus (and don’t ask me where that was). That’s the red which darkens almost as soon as you turn your back on it: it survives and that’s all that can be said for it. In fact, on damp walls, it’s all that does survive. Well, back to this chap’s cloak. It was resin-based and that doesn’t ooze out, by the gallon; they found a scallop-shell with caked deposit amongst the rubble in the Gifford Chantry at Boyton.’

‘Mr Birkin…Mr Birkin…is it an oil painting or a water colour or what is it for goodness sake?’ ’It’s all sorts of things, Mrs Keach. Item – blew bysse at 4s 4d. the pound, item – one sack of verdigris at 12d. a pound, item – red ochre, 3 pounds a penny, item – 3 pecks of wheat flour…. I suppose you could lump it all as tempera. And let’s not forget the wall itself – down in the sinful south, plastered with chalk bound with parish offerings of skimmed milk; up here, slaked limestone putty damped just enough to stiffen. That’s about what it is. …Spaynishe white,  Baghdad indigo, Cornish malachite…

But for me, the exciting thing was more than this. Here I was, face to face with a nameless painter reaching from the dark to show me what he could do, saying to me as clear as my words, ‘If any part of me survives from time’s corruption, let it be this. For this was the sort of man I was.’

Each pigment is bound in gum Arabic on W&N watercolour paper and reads from left to right:

Malachite
Verdigris
Chalk
Haematite
Red ochre
Chalk
Indigo
Blue bice

A Colour A Day: Week 21

Ruth Siddall16 August 2020

A Colour A Day Week 21. 10th-16th August

Jo Volley writes….

Extracts from Matisse on Art Jack D Flam 1973. On the occasion of an exhibition at the Gallery Maeght, December 1949 the title of which was Black is a Colour. Henri Matisse’s remarks were recorded by M. Maeght.

Before, when I didn’t know what to put down, I put down black. Black is a force: I depend on black to simplify the construction. Now I have given up all blacks*The use of black as a colour in the same way as the other colours – yellow, blue or red – is not a new thing. The Orientals made use of black as a colour, notably the Japanese in their prints. Closer to us, I recall a painting by Manet in which the velvet jacket of a young man with a straw hat is painted in a blunt and lucid black. In the portrait of Zacharie Astruc by Manet, a new velvet jacket is also expressed by a blunt luminous black. Doesn’t my painting of the Marocains use a grand black which is as luminous as the other colours in the painting? Like all evolution, that of black in painting has been made in jumps. But since the Impressionists it seems to have made continuous progress, taking a more and more important part in colour orchestration, comparable to that of the double-bass as a solo instrument. 

*Matisse does not mean he has given up the use of black, but that he no longer used it merely for linear construction as in his earlier works. Actually, at this time Matisse was making a use of black as a colour instead of an element of linear construction.

From left to right

  1. Jet – W&N Designers gouache
  2. Perylene – W&N Designers gouache
  3. Lamp – W&N Designers gouache
  4. Blue Black – W&N Calligraphy ink
  5. Mars – W&N Designers gouache
  6. Ivory – W&N Designers gouache
  7. Noir Intense – Lefranc Bourgeois Linel gouache

A Colour A Day: Week 19

Ruth Siddall2 August 2020

A Colour A Day – Week 19.  27th July-2nd August

Jo Volley writes…..

This week we celebrate the last seven FA Cup finals using the predominant colour worn by the winning team on the day. The FA Cup is the world’s oldest football competition, the first games played in the autumn of 1871, the same year as the Slade School was established. Arsenal have won the cup a record 14 times. 🏆

Each colour can be found in the Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic range and is on W&N watercolour paper.

 

A Colour A Day: Week 16

Ruth Siddall12 July 2020

A Colour A Day Week 16: 6th -12th July

Jo Volley writes…

This week’s A Colour A Day is inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s White Painting (seven panel), 1952.

Of the series, his friend the composer, John Cage wrote:

To Whom / No subject / No image / No taste / No object / No beauty / No message / No talent /
No technique (no why) / No idea / No intention / No art / No object / No feeling / No black / No
white (no and) / After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing in
these paintings that could not be changed, that they can be seen in any light and are not
destroyed by the action of shadows. / Hallelujah! the blind can see again; the water’s fine.

Read from left to right are 7 white pigments bound in gum arabic on W&N watercolour paper.

  1. Lead
  2. Zirkonium silicate
  3. Egg Shell
  4. Zinc
  5. White Earth
  6. Fluorescent white
  7. Titanium

A Colour A Day: Week 15

Ruth Siddall5 July 2020

A Colour A Day: Week, 15. 29th June – 5th July

Jo Volley writes…….

In spring 2017, Nisar Hossain, Dean of the Fine Art Faculty, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Artist and specialist on Contemporary Painting and Folk Painting of Bangladesh, led a contemporary installation  workshop at the Slade based on traditional Folk Art of Bangladesh.  He also gave  a public lecture at the Whitechapel Gallery The heritage of ritualistic folk painting and the traditional painter communities of Bangladesh as part of the Inspire exchange project between the Slade School of Fine Art and the University of Dhaka Faculty of Fine Art, Bangladesh funded by the British Council.

Links to various workshops throughout the Inspire project

Here are 7 of the colours Nisar generously donated to the Material Research Project pigment library, written in Bangla, as he gave me. Each are bound in gum Arabic on W&N watercolour paper and read from left to right.

  1. Hāra pathar
  2. Haritāl
  3. Sindura
  4. Bhusha kali
  5. Hingula
  6. Elamati
  7. Nīl

 

A Colour A Day: Week 14

Ruth Siddall28 June 2020

A Colour A Day week 14; 22nd-28th June

Jo Volley writes …
I am currently working on a timeline of Van Gogh’s colours for the Van Gogh House in London. In a letter to Theo dated 8th April 1888, Arles, he writes;

‘My Dear Theo, Am obliged to write to you as I’m sending you an order for colours which, if you place with Tasset & Lhote, rue Fontaine, you’ll do well – since they know me – to tell them that I expect a discount at least equivalent to the cost of the carriage…‘ He continues with a list of instructions for colours, canvas and carriage then writes…

 

A Colour A Day: Week 13

Ruth Siddall21 June 2020

A Colour A Day Week 13; 15th – 21st June
Jo Volley writes….
This week’s feature of 7 greys also  includes the poem Penumbra  by artist and poet, Sharon Morris,  from her collection False Spring, Enitharmon Press, 2007.  Sharon is a Professor at the Slade School of Fine Art.
 

Penumbra

Your shadow has fallen on me
like the fig tree
in its profusion

and I am left
chasing your image
as the sun drops

into occlusion, you
running with that cusp of light
against disappearance,

my tears
wanting to make your face haptic
from its shroud.

 

Colours read from left to right and are painted out onto W&N watercolour paper:

 
  1. Galena
  2. Bone grey (JV/12)
  3. Graphite
  4. Neutral grey
  5. Payne’s grey
  6. Ash grey (JV/20)
  7. Melser Grau
 

A Colour A Day: Week 10

Ruth Siddall31 May 2020

A Colour A Day Week 10; 25th-31st May
Jo Volley writes …
This week’s colours are produced by Ruth Siddall and dedicated to the Land Art pioneer Agnes Denes on her  89th birthday on Sunday 31st May. 
 
These colours represent my first experiments in lake pigments; dyes made insoluble by the addition of a mordant, in this case alum with the further addition of either potassium or sodium carbonate in solution. The initial dye baths were made from raw materials from my kitchen (waste onion skins and dried hibiscus and marigold flowers used in tisanes), plant material collected from local areas of parkland (nettles, dandelion and bark from birch logs) and finally some madder roots which were sent to me as a present by Stephanie Nebbia, courtesy of the Winsor & Newton laboratories. All were made in my kitchen, with adapted equipment and materials during the initial few weeks of lockdown in March and April 2020.’ Ruth Siddall   
 
 
1. Birch Bark (alkaline)
2. Dandelion Lake
3. Nettle Green(copper modifier)
4. Rose Madder
5. Hibiscus Lake
6. Marigold Lake
7. Onion Skin Lake

A Colour A Day: Week 8

Ruth Siddall17 May 2020

Jo Volley writes….

A COLOUR A DAY – Week 8; 11th – 17th  May

This week’s colours are from the sea and to accompany them you can hear Janet Baker singing ‘Where Corals Lie’. The music is from  Edward Elgar’s Sea Pictures, words by Richard Garnett.

The deeps have music soft and low
When winds awake the airy spry,
It lures me, lures me on to go
And see the land where corals lie.
The land, the land, where corals lie.

  1. Cuttlefish
  2. Oyster shell
  3. Tyrian Purple
  4. Squid
  5. Coral
  6. Pearl
  7. Octopus