Going Wild

I don’t usually bring up my nature-oriented lifestyle on this website (plastic-free etc) but my hiking and foraging for wild foods are now converging with my art practice: I have started drifting towards foraging for colours. Just as I was formulating this intention for myself, I made a serendipitous first find: chunks of red rock disturbed by a construction site, on the way to my favourite woodland walk.

I brought them home, ground them into sand, and proceeded to wash and extract the pigment… So much pigment I am still working at it, the earth hasn’t released it all!

This lovely earthy orange, below, is the hue I can expect from painting with this pigment (I named it Theydon Red). I can use it with any painting medium I like, which will be natural mediums: watercolour, gouache, egg tempera… Oil too of course, but it’s not one I use.

There is such a strong sense of place in making art with the very soil of a place you love, processed with care, it makes store-bought pigment rather boring and impersonal…

Before and after the process: rocks vs. pure pigment.

Earth colors such as these, which are iron-based, are easy to extract, and they are reliable and permanent. More tricky and much less predictable are plant colours, which I am now busy with. More soon…