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A Colour A Day: Week 52

Ruth Siddall21 March 2021

A Colour A Day: Week 52. 15-21 March 2021

Jo Volley writes…

The arrangement of this week’s colours is taken from Agnes Denes’ poem Colors of the Week* and features David Dobson’s 2017 invention Deep Water Blue pigment. David explains.

‘The colours of the common minerals are dominated by the presence of iron. Iron atoms in minerals take on two charges, loosing either two or three electrons to make ferrous (Fe2+) or ferric (Fe3+) iron. Iron oxides and hydroxides commonly contain mixed valence states and exchange of electrons between the ferric and ferrous states produces the reds and yellows seen in the earth pigments. In silicate minerals, such as olivine, iron replaces divalent magnesium and Fe2+ dominates. In this case electronic transitions localised on the iron ion causes olivine to have pale green colours. Very occasionally charge transfer between iron ions in ferric and ferrous states can cause blue colouration. Vivianite is an iron phosphate where the iron is in the 2+ state. When fresh it is colourless, however exposure to air causes some oxidation to iron 3+, some of which which sits on the tetrahedral phosphate site and a blue colour develops quite quickly. It seems that this tetrahedral ferric iron might be the key to making iron-based blues. Ringwoodite is a vibrant blue silicate spinel which is stable between 520 and 660 km depth in the Earth. In this case the colour only develops when there is a charge-coupled substitution of Fe3+,H+ onto the tetrahedral Si4+ site. This substitution is quite easy in ringwoodite, and if all of the Earth’s ringwoodite were fully hydrated it would contain something like 4 times the amount of water in the oceans. The Deep Water Blue pigment uses silicate and germanate structures which can take significant amounts of ferric iron on tetrahedral sites to reproduce the colour of ringwoodite.’

David Dobson is a geologist, mountaineer and print-maker. He is interested in process, whether that is the chain of action linking winter mountaineering to a final image or developing new pigments. He is also a professor at UCL, Earth Sciences and the first Slade Scientist in Residence 2018-19

Instagram:@m3m_works

YouTube: One Minute Geology

Image: Fe-Mg ringwoodite David Dobson

THE COLOR OF MONDAY IS WHITE
Lithopone
THE COLOR OF TUESDAY IS YELLOW
Turmeric
THE COLOR OF WEDNESDAY IS ORANGE
Persian Orange
THE COLOR OF THURSDAY IS GRAY
Grey Rose
THE COLOR OF FRIDAY IS BLUE
David Dobson’s Deep Water Blue
THE COLOR OF SATURDAY IS BROWN
Brown-Red Slate
THE COLOR OF SUNDAY IS RED
Cinnabar
IT HAS BEEN THAT WAY ALL MY LIFE.
*Thanks to Lesley Sharpe for directing me to this poem.

Today is both International Colour Day & World Poetry Day and the eve of World Pigment Day established in 2019 by Ruth Siddall and myself. This project started on 23rd March 2019 in an attempt to celebrate and document it’s initial year by simply dedicating a painted swatch of colour to each day and pure coincidence it was also the first day of lockdown in the UK but has somehow documented this most extraordinary year. It was inspired by A Boogert’s C17 educational manual of how to mix every colour available and influenced by Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours with Patrick Syme’s amendments. A Colour A Day is now finished (I hesitate to say complete as I haven’t painted every colour available to me in my studio) and later in the year they will be made into a series of digital prints and a publication.
Thank you to all of you who have sent me pigments and paints, writings and poems to include.

A Colour A Day: Week 48

Ruth Siddall21 February 2021

A Colour A Day; Week 48. 15-21 February

Jo Volley writes…

This week are colours are seven earths generously gifted to me by their makers and accompany George Szirtes’ wonderful poem Soil.

Soil takes place in England on a train journey. I was taking a ride I think from London up to Yorkshire and I looked out at the soil, the earth and I thought I recognise that colour – where does that colour come from? And what does it mean to me? It seemed to be saying something, it seemed to be saying something and it brought to my mind the subject of belonging – to the soil, or to that soil.’ George Szirtes

Soil

What colour would you call that? That brown
which is not precisely the colour of excrement
or suede?
The depth has you hooked. Has it a scent
of its own, a peculiar adhesiveness? Is it weighed,
borne down
by its own weight? It creeps under you skin
Like a landscape that’s a mood, or a thought
in mid-birth,
and suddenly a dull music has begun. You’re caught
by your heels in that grudging lyrical earth,
a violin
scraped and scratched, and there is nowhere to go
but home, which is nowhere to be found
and yet
is here, unlost, solid, the very ground
on which you stand
but cannot visit
or know.

From The Budapest File (Bloodaxe, 2000) George Szirtes 2000; used by permission of the owner. Click to listen to George reading Soil.

Colours read from top to bottom on W&N watercolour paper:

Christine Chua’s Singapore Ochre
Chalybeate – Cohen’s Fields Fountain JV/2020
Gail Lamarche’s Arizona Red
Penelope Kupfer’s Waterfall Red – Brazil 2019/20
Penelope Kupfer’s Roadside Red – Brazil 2019/20
Hampstead Heath no.6 JV/2020
Onya McCausland’s Six Bells Burnt Ochre (oil paint)

Chalybeate Fountain, Cohen’s Fields, Hampstead Heath

A Colour A Day: Week 47

Ruth Siddall14 February 2021

A Colour A Day: Week 47 8th – 14th February
Jo Volley writes…

This week’s colours accompany this beautiful poem by artist and poet Sharon Morris.

The purpose of blue

But it’s the colours I miss, don’t you see?
the lapis sky and fair cerulean blue
of ocean, the precise shivering hue
of your laugh on a bright day, so clear.

Whatever the light, lavender appears
to shave blue from grey, the way I knew you.
I’m dead-heading the daisy – though it’s futile –
sweeping leaves and weeding ‘volunteers’.

My eyes close – the way whales slip from view
between the waves – I have to let you go.
I still wear that specific shade of turquoise –

you looking out at the Pacific Ocean –
the way blue sky screens emptiness, its purpose
forgetting or holding on. Is this beauty?

The purpose of blue is from a set of sonnets, some of which were published in the anthology Tying the Song, Enitharmon Press, 2000. Sharon is also a Professor of Fine Art, Slade Deputy Director (Academic) and Head of the PhD Programme.

Colours read from left to right on W&N watercolour paper.
Methyl Violet pigment bound in gum Arabic
Cerulean Blue pigment bound in gum Arabic
Dumont’s Blue W&N watercolour
Vivianite pigment bound in gum Arabic
Oregon Blue (Yin mIn Blue), Derivan, Matisse Range*
Monastral Blue pigment bound in gum Arabic
Bronze Blue pigment bound in gum Arabic

*I first became aware of Yin MIn Blue in the summer of 2016 and wrote to the manufacturers requesting a sample for the Slade Material Research Project Pigment Collection but without luck. I then discovered a paint manufacturer in Australia, Derivan, were advertising it in their Matisse range as Oregon Blue and wrote a similar email asking for a donation. This is response from Steven Patterson, Derivan’s Chief Executive Officer that summer.
‘Thank you for your email – I would be happy to send you a sample of the paint we have made with the pigment, however we do not have any dry pigment left!!! we have used it all!!! – yet if you are happy with the paint please let me know the best address to send it to.’
I accepted his kind offer and very excited to receive a few weeks later two tubes plus some lovely colours from their Natural Pigments of Australia range which have been featured in previous weeks A Colour A Day.
A conversation in the Housman bar over the newly acquired blue with Ruth Siddall and David Dobson got David thinking about inventing his own new blue – more on that another time. At a later date Steven Patterson very generously sent a sample of the pigment, now part of the collection, and featured in an exhibition in the Material Museum during Colour & Poetry: A Symposium 2019.

A Colour A Day: Week 40

Ruth Siddall27 December 2020

A Colour A Day: Week 40. 21st-27th December

Jo Volley writes…

This weeks colours are accompanied by Marge Piercy’s poem Colors passing through us.

Purple as tulips in May, mauve
into lush velvet, purple
as the stain blackberries leave
on the lips, on the hands,
the purple of ripe grapes
sunlit and warm as flesh.

Every day I will give you a color,
like a new flower in a bud vase
on your desk. Every day
I will paint you, as women
color each other with henna
on hands and on feet.

Red as henna, as cinnamon,
as coals after the fire is banked,
the cardinal in the feeder,
the roses tumbling on the arbor
their weight bending the wood
the red of the syrup I make from petals.

Orange as the perfumed fruit
hanging their globes on the glossy tree,
orange as pumpkins in the field,
orange as butterflyweed and the monarchs
who come to eat it, orange as my
cat running lithe through the high grass.

Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,
yellow as a hill of daffodils,
yellow as dandelions by the highway,
yellow as butter and egg yolks,
yellow as a school bus stopping you,
yellow as a slicker in a downpour.

Here is my bouquet, here is a sing
song of all the things you make
me think of, here is oblique
praise for the height and depth
of you and the width too.
Here is my box of new crayons at your feet.

Green as mint jelly, green
as a frog on a lily pad twanging,
the green of cos lettuce upright
about to bolt into opulent towers,
green as Grand Chartreuse in a clear
glass, green as wine bottles.

Blue as cornflowers, delphiniums,
bachelors’ buttons. Blue as Roquefort,
blue as Saga. Blue as still water.
Blue as the eyes of a Siamese cat.
Blue as shadows on new snow, as a spring
azure sipping from a puddle on the blacktop.

Cobalt as the midnight sky
when day has gone without a trace
and we lie in each other’s arms
eyes shut and fingers open
and all the colors of the world
pass through our bodies like strings of fire.

Colours are from the Liquitex Soft Body Acrylic range on W&N watercolour paper and read from left to right:

Bright Aqua Green
Vivid Orange
Scarlet
Naphthol Crimson
Yellow Orange Azo
Permanent Light Green
Permanent Dark Green

A Colour A Day: Week 35

Ruth Siddall22 November 2020

A Colour A Day: Week 35. 16th – 22nd November

Jo Volley writes …

‘We had a remarkable sunset one day last November. I was walking in a meadow, the source of a small brook, when the sun at last, just before setting, after a cold gray day, reached a clear stratum in the horizon, and the softest, brightest morning sunlight fell on the dry grass and on the stems of the trees in the opposite horizon and on the leaves of the shrub oaks on the hillside, while our shadows stretched long over the meadow east-ward, as if we were the only motes in its beam. It was such a light as we could not have imagined a moment before, and the air also was so warm and serene that nothing was wanting to make a paradise of that meadow. When we reflected that this was not a solitary phenomenon, never to happen again, but that it would happen forever and ever, an infinite number of evenings, and cheer and reassure the latest child that walked there, it was more glorious still.’

Extract from ‘Walking’ by Henry David Thoreau, 1862
(for J.S)

Pigments manufactured by Ruth Siddall, bound in gum Arabic on W&N watercolour paper, and read from left to right:

Weld & Calcium Carbonate Lake
Annatto Lake
Safflower Carthamidin Lake
Eosin Lake #1 & Annatto Lake 50:50 mix
Eosin Chalk Lake
Geranium Lake
Eosin Lake #1

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 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 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

 

A Colour A Day: Week 1

Ruth Siddall30 March 2020

A Colour A Day is a year-long project to celebrate one colour each day by recording a swatch of it.

International Colour Day and World Pigment Day fall respectively on the 21st and 22nd of March. The project started on 23rd March which was coincidentally also the day lockdown began in the UK.

It has begun with the Liquitex Heavy Body Cadmium Free range of 7 colours, as seen here,  and tomorrow will progress onto a range of natural colours.

Jo Volley, 30 March 2020

Day 1. Yellow Light

Day 2. Yellow Medium

Day 3. Yellow Deep

Day 4. Orange

Day 5. Red Light

Day 6. Red Medium

Day 7. Red Deep

Pigment Stories: Polly Bennett’s Pigment Rainbow

Ruth Siddall23 March 2020

Yesterday (22 March 2020) we launched the inaugural World Pigment Day. There was an huge amount of engagement on social media and particularly on Instagram. Over the next few days I will be sharing images and pigment stories from people who posted to celebrate World Pigment Day. First up is artist Polly Bennett, a resident of St Ives in Cornwall, who contributed a series of posts on the colours of the Rainbow. Over to Polly …

Red: Cinnabar Cinnabar is a toxic mercury sulfide mineral that has been used as a pigment for thousands of years due to its bright red colour. It is a pigment in its own right, however, it was also used to make the red pigments known as “vermilion” and “Chinese red”. Cinnabar is a hydrothermal mineral that is usually found in rocks surrounding recent volcanic activity but can also form near hot springs and fumaroles (an opening in or near a volcano). Because of cinnabar’s toxicity, it is a lot less commonly used nowadays.

Orange: Ochre Ochre is a family of earth pigments that includes yellow ochre, red ochre, purple ochre, sienna, and umber. It consists of varying amounts of iron oxide, clay and sand, and ranges in colour from yellow to deep orange or brown with an array of shades inbetween. I have found huge amounts of ochre earth in St Ives, where I am currently staying, and have been slowly but surely grinding and separating the ochre into different shades. The mineral goethite, an iron oxide hydroxide and the main constituent of most yellow ochres, is named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the colour scientist whose death marks the date of World Pigment Day

Yellow: Sulphur Although Sulphur is not a pigment, I found some in a curio shop and was curious to see if it ground into a powder; would it work in the same way?  So I intend to turn it into watercolour and test it out. Historically it has been used to bleach cloth, so it might do something similar when applied over the top of other watercolours. Sulphur occurs naturally as the element, often in volcanic areas, and as the extraction of pigments is very alchemical, I thought it was interesting to note that for centuries, along with mercury and salt, it was believed to be a component of all metals and formed the basis of alchemy, whereby one metal could be transmuted into another.

Green: Green Earth from St Ives Yesterday I was super excited to find a little green sparkly rock on the eroded foreshore. I set about grinding it down and managed to get two shades of green from it, the darker one I immediately made into watercolour.

 

 

Blue: Azurite Azurite is a soft copper mineral, named for its beautiful “azure blue” colour. It has been ground and used as a pigment in blue paint as early as ancient Egypt, and through time, its become much more common. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was the most important blue pigment used in Europe, and through the early 19th century, it was also known as chessylite, after the type locality at Chessy-les-Mines near Lyon, France, where much of the pigment was mined. Here I have mullered the Azurite into glaze.

Indigo: Mussel Shell Blue from St Ives Since landing in St Ives I have been going down to the foreshore every morning to collect mussel shells as I wanted to create a blue pigment to represent the sea, however after being ground the mussels create a light indigo colour that I love! Historically painters used shells as paint pans, so I thought it very appropriate to make watercolour paint with the mussel pigment and use one of the mussel shells as the pan for the paint.

Violet: Cochineal Cochineal is a bright scarlet insect lake pigment that has been used for centuries to dye textiles, drugs, food and cosmetics. A lake pigment is a pigment made by precipitating a dye with a mordant. Unlike mineral pigments, lake pigments are organic.Cochineal is the result of harvesting the female cochineal parasitic insect that live on the cacti native to Mexico, Central and South America. Using soda ash and alum, I extracted the pigment from the insects and added honey and gum arabic to make watercolour.

Follow Polly on Instagram.