Most of my paints begin with a rock. Sometimes I remember to record the process it goes through from rock to paint, and sometimes the process isn’t quick. This is the story of a paint made from a reddish sandstone found here at Wild Ozark. It’s the provenance of Number 2021-01. I’m still working with it now, in 2022.
A couple of years ago while walking the streets of Eureka Springs, I saw these huge leather-bound journals in the EarthBound Trading Company. They were discontinuing them and had them marked half off. So I got two of them. If you’re looking for such a thing, I’m not sure they still have that style, but there’s a similar on one the website I linked to above. They’re perfect for recording my paint-making journey! I’m not even halfway through the first one, so I’m sure between the two of them I’ll have plenty of room for saving a lot of information.
The problem is that I don’t remember soon enough that I want to do this. I forgot to record a photo of the rock where I found it and before I broke it into smaller chunks. So going forward, I want to try and remember to begin at the beginning.
Foraging for Rocks, Making a Record
Last year I collected and ground up a red sandstone. At that time I made some paint from the whole rock pigment, rubbed a little on paper to show the richness of it, saved a little of the whole pigment powder. But I forgot to get a photo of the whole rock, in location and before I broke it.
After that I made some paint from the whole pigment, and put some into jars to sell as whole pigment powder. Then I washed some of the pigment I kept for myself, separated out the heavies from the lites, and then set it aside to dry. After that, it waited on my shelf until this week, when I decided to make the paint and grind the heavies again.
Updating the Provenance
Today I ground the previously washed and twice ground heavies for a third time. Then I washed it and separated out the lights from those heavies. Here’s the jars of pigment settling. The heavies are in the first jar on the left. That’s the sludge that drops quickly, so I call them ‘heavies’. The colored waters are where the lites are. Those take longer to settle, so I call them Lites. Once they settle, I’ll pour the cleared water off and save the sediment. Then I’ll make a paint from it that will be called 2021-01 3rd Lites.
Processing Paints and Keeping Records (Provenance)
So that’s a the provenance of a paint. If there’s no noticeable difference in the next paint I make from the 3rd lites, I’m going to stop there. If there is a discernable difference, I’ll grind the heavies again and do the whole process again to see what the 4th lites look like.
I’d be very happy if there’s a difference. Especially if the color is more toward the red end rather than the brown. And I’m doing the same process with a yellow stone and keeping track of that progress too. It’s all in my big pigment journal book.
Have a wonderful weekend!
If you share my love for rocks, this might be a post you’d also enjoy:
Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints. In 2023 she began her journey into the world of oil painting with those same pigments. Her paintings of the Ozark-inspired scenes feature exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration. Wild Ozark is also the only licensed ginseng nursery in Arkansas. Here’s the link for more information on the nursery end of life out here.
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3 thoughts on “Provenance of a Paint”
I always enjoy seeing a post from you, Madison. This was no exception. Hope you’re having a good weekend.
Thanks, Janet! I’ve had a sweaty but good weekend. We’re trying to not run the AC, but it’s hot. G-kids are coming over later this week, so I’m definitely going to be running it then, lol.
Our daughter and family have A-C for their apartment but many people here don’t. Obviously everyone in Arizona does and it will be running constantly right now. Not looking forward to going back to 100+ temperatures!