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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 41

Ruth Siddall3 January 2021

A Colour A Day: Week 41. 28th December- 3rd January

Jo Volley writes...

This weeks colours are seven beautiful Japanese pigments, gifted to me some years ago, but unfortunately their pigment identity is unknown to me. As with all the colours I make from pigments they are bound in my preferred choice of medium, gum Arabic, which is the hardened sap of certain varieties of the acacia tree which grow exclusively in the Sahel. It has a long, complex and sometimes a very brutal history and apart from its value to the artist it has been used in foods, medicine and cosmetics for centuries.

My favourite new fact about gum Arabic can be found in Dorrit Van Dalen’s wonderful book, Gum Arabic. The Golden Tears of the Acacia Trees, Chapter IX: Intangible Tears, where she explains its chemistry.

‘Gum Arabic is a complex polysaccharide composed of four sugars – galactose, arbinose, rhamnose and glucuronic acid, plus calcium, magnesium and potassium salts. These constituents are linked to each other in myriad ways, with a ramification of elements within the molecule. This is why gum Arabic dissolves so well and produces solutions of very low viscosity: the many ramifications allow it to hold much water. Solutions of gum Arabic in water become viscous only at concentrations of 30 per cent gum or higher.

Around the turn of the century it was discovered that the molecules of gum from Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal has another permanent element that had not been noticed before or that had been seen as an impurity. Chemists found that a protein that makes up just 2 or 3 per cent of the molecule explains the property which makes especially hashab, gum from Acacia senegal, so valuable: its emulsifying capacity.

In 2019, Peter Williams, professor of Polymer and Colloid Chemistry at Glyndwr University, explained to me the significance of the find. the protein that distinguishes gum Arabic from other gums is hydrophobic: it tries to get away from water, but close to oil if there is any around. The carbohydrate part of the protein, however, is hydrophilic and uses its ramifications to stay in water as much as it can. Now imagine a glass of water with some gum Arabic dissolved in it. Add some oil (Coca-Cola-flavoured, for instance) and see what happens: each molecule of gum wants to wrap one arm around a molecule of oil, and another round a molecule of water. Like couples on a dance floor, the new combinations will fill the glass evenly. So the protein component give the gum molecule amphiphilic characteristics: it likes to be near water and oil.’

Kordofan gum Arabic

All colours are bound in gum Arabic on W&N watercolour paper and read from left to right as a rainbow and dedicated to our Key Workers.

A Colour A Day: Week 39

Ruth Siddall20 December 2020

A Colour A Day: Week 39. 14th-20th December

Jo Volley writes…

I’m only happy when I’m trying to create something new’: words by Henry Levison inventor of Liquitex acrylics paint. Levison was a colour chemist who ran Permanent Pigments, Cincinnati, Ohio, which had been milling colours from 1933. Acrylics were first developed as a solvent-based artists’ colour in the early part of the C20 and by 1955 Levison had perfected a commercially viable water-based acrylic. The Permanent Pigments went on to be called Liquitex.

Henry Levison inventor of Liquitex.

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

Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Quinacridone Blue Violet
Indanthrene Blue
Parchment
Bronze Yellow
Prism Violet
Muted Violet

A Colour A Day: Week 31

Ruth Siddall25 October 2020

A Colour A Day: Week 31. 19th -25th October

Jo Volley writes…

This week’s colours are manufactured by Ruth Siddall who says of them. ‘Procion MX Dyes – The difference between a dye and a pigment is that a dye is soluble in water and a pigment is insoluble. I am experimenting at the moment to try and find as many ways of making the colourful, organic compounds in dyes into insoluble pigments. These are a series of pigments I made by dyeing a starch with modern Procion MX dyes. I used potato starch as a substrate. I have seen modern dyes such as rhodamine being used in this way, so I thought I’d give it a go. If I’m honest, I’m disappointed with the pale colours produced – quite the opposite of the dyes which were intensely coloured! Chemically, Procion MX dyes are dichlorotriazines, which means they contain a ring-shaped molecule with three nitrogen ions so the formula is C3H3N3 (most ring molecules just have six carbons). In addition there are two chlorine ions attached to this ring and it is these that bond to -OH groups in fibres to produce strong dyes on cloth. Starch has -OH groups, so I had hoped it would work the same way here. There is some colour but it’s not as intense as I had hoped for.’

Each pigment is bound in gum Arabic on W&N watercolour paper. They were like no other pigment I have used before – it was rather like trying to paint with clouds – amorphous – the colour just slipping away. According to the American Meteorological Society, amorphous clouds ‘are without any apparent structure at all, as may occur in a whiteout in a thick cloud or fog over a snow surface when one loses any sense of direction – up, down and sideways’

Procion red MX-G
Procion yellow MX-4G
Procion blue MX-2R
Procion yellow MX-3K
Procion turquoise MX-G
Procion composite grey
Procion red – MX-5B

 

 

 

Recipes and Talks

Ruth Siddall20 October 2020

 Here are some link to resources and that people might find useful. 

Ruth Siddall’s Recipes

Slade School Pigment Farm Talks 

Over the Spring we had a series of lockdown talks to celebrate the Pigment Farm Project; the talks were about dyes, lake pigments and plants in art generally and come from Emma Richardson, Ruth Siddall, Nicholas Laessing, Andreea Ionascu and Lea Collet. You can watch the recordings of the talks here.

Slade Methods Room Recipes

Lots of pdfs with recipes and methods for making a range of artists materials and other constructions.