My Interview with Jacqueline Froelich of KUAF (91.3 FM)

I was excited to have been interviewed by Jacqueline Froelich of KUAF earlier this week. She came out on Tuesday and let me show and tell my process of making paint and art from the natural resources of the land here at Wild Ozark.

Here’s a link to the show if you’d like to listen.

Local Artist Creates Paints Using Ancient Methods

There is one miss-speak in there I’d like to mention. I didn’t intend to imply that modern synthetic colors are not light fast. Most likely all of them are. However, modern synthetic pigments have only been in use for a relatively short while, so they haven’t withstood the test of time yet. All paint manufacturers do submit their colors to testing to simulate the exposure to light and passage of time, though.

You can see all of the art I’ve made so far with the Paleo Paints at the Paleo Paints website 🙂

What I meant to do was clarify the difference between the plant pigments I’ve found that are *not* light fast as compared to the very fastness of the earth pigments (those from stone, mineral, soil, or clay).

All in all, I had a great time showing Froelich around and talking about my obsession. We’ve interviewed before on the topic of ginseng, but this was the first public exposure of this scale for my art. Let me know what you think about the interview if you get a chance to listen.

Collection No. 6, packaged and ready to ship! Uploading to Etsy on 1/11/2019. These were in progress when Jacqueline Froelich came out to Wild Ozark to do an interview.
Collection No. 6, packaged and ready to ship! Uploading to Etsy on 1/13/2019, but I’ll have these 3 sets with me at the Fayetteville Farmers market on 1/12/19.

 

These are large acorn caps. Burr oak and other oak acorns.

New Products Lineup for Wild Ozark 2019

Lots of new Paleo Paint products in the lineup for Wild Ozark 2019! Look for new handmade watercolors, new packaging (less plastic!) and more paintings.

Since I started making the paint in June of last year, I’ve experimented a lot. And I’ve learned a lot. The same goes for the paintings using handmade watercolors.

As I’ve never painted with anything except these paints I make, I have little to draw on from experience compared with store-bought versions.

However, in my work-play, I’ve come up with a few more techniques for using and making the paint. And I’ve found some better ways to package the paints and make them easier or more fun to use.

Plastic Reduction

The usual thing nowadays used to hold paint are little plastic pans. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of pans since I started making paint. When it’s paint for myself, I wash and reuse them. As I’m developing new products for the upcoming year, I’d prefer to use less plastic.

Originally, artists used whatever was handy to their region. Those who lived near bodies of water typically used seashells. If they purchased paint, it came in seashells, I’d assume. However most of the artists of old made their own paint.

While I don’t have seashells handy, I do have acorns with convenient little caps. And we have a lot of wood scraps when Rob is in the workshop making his art. Nature abounds with all sorts of ‘holders’, so I’ll keep my eyes open for other natural items that will work.

Paint delivery with no or little plastics.
Paint delivery with no or little plastics.

For the acorn cup holders, I still need to use the hot glue to attach them to the base. So not completely plastic-free, but much closer.

New Products in 2019

More Colors

While my main focus for new products will remain on local colors, the Soul of the Ozark series, I would like to start experimenting with minerals from other places. Whenever I travel, I’ll collect the soil, rocks, or clay of that place and make collections called “Soul of That Place”.

I’ve learned to make an incredible blue out of lapis lazuli, but that rock is expensive and in short supply here in my possession, so it most likely won’t ever be one of my new products to sell. However, there are other rocks native to the United States that will make blue. Same goes for green. So these won’t be included in a Soul collection unless it is native to the region I’ve collected, but I’d like to have those colors on hand.

Another thing I learned to do, and now consider standard practice when I have a large enough source, is to refine the colors. The whole rock gives a certain shade. But if you separate the fractions of the rock using water, other shades are possible. Some of the shades can be quite vivid, like this Russet from the fines of the rock I used originally to make my Nirvana color.

More Art

I’ve entered the only two originals I have left into a show for the Artists of Northwest Arkansas. Which means in order to enter any other shows, I’ll need more originals. Right now I’m working on a goshawk and hopefully it will turn out well enough to compete. Before I can finish the painting, though, I have to make the colors I need.

The next exhibit I’d like to apply to is at the Springfield Museum of Art. I need to have this goshawk done by February for that.

My little twisted tree swatches have been popular items at the market, so I will make more of those and add them to the new product line as they become available. They’re small and affordable for people who want to own original art rather than prints. And they look just as nice framed as any larger sized painting would.

Paleo Duos

Whimsical, yet practical. At the moment, I only have enough of the large acorn cups to make 4 sets. If these prove to be a popular way to deliver my handmade watercolors, I’ll find more of them!

Each acorn cup holds more paint than a standard full pan. If all I can find are smaller acorns, then I’ll add more cups and call them Trios or Quads.

The bones of a new product. This is what will become Paleo Duo sets. Look for these to appear at Etsy and at the market booth by the end of January.
The bones of what will become Paleo Duo sets.

Wooden Palettes

These wooden blocks are awesome, and contain no plastics at all. When I finish the paints in one of mine, I’ll try washing and re-using it, too. My son Garrison has been working with me on this design. He’s doing all the work of making them and I’m filling them with paint and offering feedback. The one below is a working prototype.

Not one of the new products, but a new way to package the products. No plastic!
Not one of the new products, but a new way to package the products. No plastic!

Paleo Go

This is a portable set based on the concept of ‘whiskey paintings’. It features small acorn cups with magnets so they can be swapped out for different colors. Will come with the first set of colors, a miniature paint brush, shot glass for water, and the wooden plaque. I have been using this prototype as often as I can so I can make modifications as needed. Once I have all the bugs worked out and beautify the presentation of it more, it’ll be one of the new products at the market too. Look for this mid- to late 2019. Maybe earlier if I’m lucky with the first round of modifications.

Paleo Go prototype in use for one of my twisted tree paintings.
Paleo Go prototype in use for one of my twisted tree paintings.

Where to Find Wild Ozark?

Look for me on Saturdays at the Fayetteville (indoor) Farmers Market until March. I won’t be there the first weekend in January, though. You can find out when and where I’ll be by checking my calendar here.

I’ll be at the Community Craft Show in Bentonville on February 9.

My Etsy shop is at Etsy.com/shop/wildozark and it’s open all the time!

Got Acorns?

If you have any burr oak acorn caps, I would be happy to buy some from you! Ditto the other large caps. I have lots of medium and small acorns, just need more of the large ones. Email me if you’d like to donate or sell to the cause: [email protected]

Have a wonderful, prosperous, and exciting 2019!

Post header for Winter Solstice 2018

Winter Solstice 2018, New Year, and the Color Black

Full Moon and Meteor Shower at Winter Solstice 2018

Winter solstice 2018 in Northern Hemisphere will be at 4:23 PM on Friday, December 21. This is the longest night of the year, and although I typically think of it as a dark night, it won’t be this year.

With a full moon and meteor shower going on, it’s likely to be quite bright outside after the sun goes down.

Solstice Seems to be a better “New Year” Marker

I’ve always wondered why the winter solstice isn’t the marker for a new year. So before starting this blog post, I looked it up. And now that I know, I’m surprised that New Year’s eve is such an accepted celebration in today’s political and religious climate. The reasons for the date makes a lot more sense to me now. You can read more about it at EarthSky.org if you like.

I still like the winter solstice better, though, lol.

And it seems a fitting time of year to stock up on one of my favorite handmade watercolor paint colors: Black. I make the black from wood char, and this year I’m going to make a special batch of black paint from the wood that I burn on Mid-winter’s Day. I’ll call it Winter Solstice 2018.

For Winter Solstice 2018 my musings are about the symbolism of black and the making of a special batch of handmade watercolors.

It’ll look just like the other blacks that I make, though, so the only difference will be the metaphysical.

If you want to read more about how I make the paint, visit my Paleo Paints website.

 

The Color Black from a Physical and Metaphysical Standpoint

Technically, each color is represented by specific wavelengths on a spectrum that ranges from red to violet. Basically, the same colors you see in a rainbow. Black isn’t a ‘color’ because it has no specific wavelength. And neither is white, because it contains all of the visible wavelengths and has no wavelength of its own. (https://education.seattlepi.com/not-list-black-white-colors-physics-3426.html)

White is all of the colors in the visible light wavelengths, and black is the absence of all colors in the visible wavelengths. White contains all colors and black absorbs all colors. It is the metaphysical struggle between these two that give all of life purpose and meaning.

Just as a blank white page contains all the possibilities of what can be, the inky black screen of the resting mind is there to fill that page.

In nature, all living things are in a state of decay. All systems are in a state of decay. And all living things are also in a state of change.

The word ‘decay’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rotting’, although that is one meaning of it. As I am using it, and even in the unpleasant image of rotting, to decay means to break down to basic components.

Balance and Stasis

Balance is by nature a state of expended energy. When something is in balance, it is being pulled in opposite directions and compensation must be made to stay in balance. One little change can upset the balance if the thing in balance isn’t able to compensate for that change.

White is the complete and total opposite of black, and it represents the active state. All the other colors in between represent the struggle and chaos as the two opposites strive to gain an edge.

All things strive to move toward a state of chaos or randomness (https://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae261.cfm). Without balance, there is chaos. So from a color standpoint, black represents the the resting state. It also represents chaos.

In nature, temperatures ‘want’ to return to extremely cold. Bodies want to be at rest. Light wants to return to darkness. Colors want to meld to black.

Black and White depend upon and feed each other.

It is the Balance of Life that holds it all in play. Once the game is over, it fades to black.

Black represents the beginning, and the end. The alpha and the omega. It is the natural state of existence. Only life pulls out color, warmth, and motion. This is why I say the Universe is a living organism. Once it dies, it all returns to cold, dark, black.

And yet black holds the potential of all possibilities of warmth, light, and colors. Of life. This is because it takes a ‘black body’ to heat up and emit the white light. Again, the two polar opposites cannot exist without each other.

Almost all of the concepts of religion are about the struggle between good and evil, or the balance between light and dark. In psychology there is the struggle between our nature’s ‘good side’ and ‘bad side’, with the supposedly ‘bad’ side being called the ‘shadow’ side, which makes me think of darkness and black, or evil and wrong.

In my worldview, it is not so much right or wrong, good or bad, but the struggle to maintain the balance between opposite pulls. This struggle is evident almost everywhere you look once you start to pay attention to the symbolism.

What I’ll be Doing to Celebrate a Return of the Light

So Winter Solstice 2018 is going to be a time of dabbling in the dark and welcoming in the light as I make black paint pigments and look forward to new colors going down on my blank white canvases in 2019.

To read about the making and use of my black handmade watercolor paint, read my post over at the Paleo Paints website. You can read my previous Winter Solstice posts too:

Winter Solstice 2015

Winter Solstice 2014

Making Paint from Pink Sandstone of the Ozarks

I’ve been busy as a bee lately making more and more paint. Even though this week my intention was to focus solely on getting ready for upcoming shows and festivals, the lure of a large chunk of pink sandstone seduced me. I couldn’t help it, and I gave in to make more paint.

Collection No. 2

Soul of the Ozarks
Collection No. 2

Collection No. 2 has some of my preliminary experiments with pink sandstone, though. There are three colors in this set. A full pan of Frenchie, made with French green clay, Brown Sands, and Pink Sands.

The color swatches for Soul of the Ozarks, Collection No. 2.
The color swatches for Soul of the Ozarks, Collection No. 2.

 

Frenchie

Although French green clay is from France, I included it in this palette for a couple of reasons. So far I haven’t found a good light-fast local source to make any shade of green.

But I don’t feel like it’s much of a stretch to include this color in my Soul of the Ozarks collections. France once owned the territory that includes the Ozarks, so it’s part of our rich history.

This isn’t one of my favorite pigments, but I use it a lot. The reason I am not so enamored is because the pigment is weak. It takes a lot of building to get a good green out of it, but it’s easy enough to get a sheer and light green tint.

Brown Sands

This color is a filtered one and the pigment is sheer tan brown. It is less textured than whole-stone paints.

Pink Sands

More Pink Sandstone Color Experimentation

I found a large chunk of pink sandstone last week and earlier this week while I had the help of my friend Allyssa, we started work on a good-sized batch of pigment.

The chunk of pink sandstone after I broke it into smaller chunks.
The chunk of pink sandstone after I broke it into smaller chunks.

Since I had such a nice amount to work with, I decided to separate this stone into the various weights that make up the shades of pigment in it. What I hoped was to get more of the pink somewhere in there. But none of them are truly pink.

What I ended up with were heavy weights, middle weights, and light weights. Then I also separated out super lights from the light end. This is a long process involving water washes and precipitation of the particles.

Separating the heavy, middle, and light color shades from pink sandstone.
Separating the heavy, middle, and light color shades from pink sandstone.

Shades of Pink

Here’s what I have so far. There weren’t much ‘middles’ so I made a gouache of that. A gouache is somewhat more opaque than watercolor because it contains calcium carbonate (limestone). If I add this to a paint, it makes it go farther. I’ll also make a gouache of what’s left of the ‘lights’, to see if it’s different than the middle pink gouache.

Shades of pink sandstone. Still waiting on the rest of my lights to settle so I can make a 'lights gouache'.
Shades of pink sandstone. Still waiting on the rest of my lights to settle so I can make a ‘lights gouache’.

Want to Buy?

If you want any of my sets of paints, for now either find me at one of the shows I go to, or email me for an invoice. The experiment isn’t finished yet and those paints aren’t available. But Collection No. 2 is (I have 4 left). They’re $30, and are packaged to make great gifts. 

Once I’m done with this year’s shows, I’ll set up the items in my online shop here and maybe also at Etsy. That should be somewhere around the end of November. By that time, I should also have another collection of 6 colors.

Wrapper for the Soul of the Ozarks watercolor paint tin.

Soul of the Ozarks

I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been making paint lately, ha. But I thought I’d try out the slideshow-making program that came with my computer. Here’s a short collection to celebrate my first release of colors called Soul of the Ozarks. It’ll hit the shelves at the Kingston Square Arts shop on Sunday, Sept. 16.

Locally Made, Local Business, Local Ingredients

This product is Made in Arkansas from almost entirely local ingredients. I do have to import the media base and essential oil of cloves. But all of the color, labor, and the honey used to preserve and condition the paint, comes from right here close to home. If my tiny little operation grows very much, I’ll be able to hire someone from right here at home to help me with the gathering, sorting, and grinding of rocks and mulling of paints.

The Soul of the Ozarks

If rocks are the soul, then paint captures the essence and embodies the soul of a place.

Since all of these colors were gathered from right here at home, this entire collection is called Soul of the Ozarks. There will be other palettes added as I find other shades and sources. Other collections will be created from other places, and those will be given the title to match their place. This way you will always know the source of your colors.

Sustainable

Never toxic ingredients, and I always harvest the colors with respect and gratitude. The rocks and clay I gather are from sources Nature made available without resorting to digging or mining. I basically gather them off the ground while I’m taking my daily walk.

I’m experimenting with a source of water-soluble resin close to home so I won’t have to import the base media.

Introducing …

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Kestrel No. 3, featuring all handmade watercolor paints made from local stone and clay sources. Panic stage navigated.

The “Panic Stage” in a Work of Nature Art

There’s a new work in progress sitting on my easel. By the time I’m done with this post, it’ll probably be a finished work. It’s another kestrel, and I’ve reached a reliable stage in the process. I call it the ‘Panic Stage’.

My Process

The photo above, by Terry Stanfill, is the one that served as the model for my painting. In the end, it didn’t look exactly like it, but I think it’s close enough and the differences are not necessarily bad ones.

When I first start a painting, I start out with a sense of excitement. I can’t wait to see the finished image. But usually there’s a whole lotta grief and misery to get through before I reach that point.

What is the Panic Stage?

I imagine there’s a point like this in the process of any kind of creative act. It’s when all seems lost, like you just cannot do the thing you set out to do and it feels pointless to continue.

There is most certainly a panic stage with natural childbirth – at least there was in my own three experiences and also with the the birth of my grandchildren. Any act of creation, whether it’s visual art, hand-crafted, or written is like a symbolic giving of birth. In the real act, the panic stage occurs just before it’s time to start the first real push. It’s when the mother in labor wants to quit the natural way and wishes she’d opted for the pain-killing epidural. Because it hurts. And it’s hard. And there seems to be no realistic way to achieve the birthing without dying in the process. That’s the panic stage.

Of course, it’s not so dramatic when it comes to creative birthings, but some of the emotions are pretty close, ha.

And when it comes to my kestrel paintings, it seems I have to push through a point where I want to throw it away in every one. Thankfully, I have a lot of encouragement from friends and family to talk me down from the ledge when I hit that point. I just hope this sort of thing eases some as I get more experience.

Progression Pics Help to Push through Panic Stage

I take photos of the various stages of my work because it helps me to look at it with a different perspective. What I hope is that one day I’ll see the problems soon enough during the creation of the work that I can fix them early on and avoid the panic stage all together.

Once the background is applied and the light sketch drawn in, the eye is the first thing I have to paint. If I can't get the eye right (position, size, expression), none of the rest of it will matter. I'll avoid the panic stage altogether if I can't get this part right, ha.
Once the background is applied and the light sketch drawn in, the eye is the first thing I have to paint. If I can’t get the eye right (position, size, expression), none of the rest of it will matter and I’ll avoid the panic stage at the end altogether, ha. It at least has to be set up to a point where I know I can make it work.

Sometimes something is wrong and I can’t figure out what it is. In the photo above, I know the eye and the nose are going to need some work, but it’s there well enough that I also know I can fix the problems. So this doesn’t bother me. They are at least done to a point where I am confident that going forward won’t be a waste of time.

Seeing the photo on Instagram or Facebook lets me see it as if I am looking at it for the first time.

What Could Go Wrong?

Lots of things aren’t always evident at the start. Sometimes it’s not until I start working on a certain part that I realize the off-thing in another part has thrown off this part too. Often I can tell right away when I see it in a photo I’ve posted what the problem is. It’s when I can’t see what the problem is that the panic stage really starts to set in.

An angle might be off. A line might be curved where it should be straight. Both of these issues occurred in this particular painting, and they often happen when I am drawing or painting anything. The key is to be able to see it and make the necessary changes. And that’s where the progress pictures come in really handy to me as the creator.

 

It is still looking good to me at this point. I haven't seen the problem yet. I'm definitely not at the panic stage. I'd say I'm still in the euphoric stage, lol. No panic stage yet.
It is still looking good to me at this point. I haven’t seen the problem yet.

Helping Others, Helping Myself

I like sharing them publicly so that if anyone else is out there trying to create something, they will see the agony another artist goes through during the process and not be so afraid when they encounter their own sense of dread halfway through it.

But I also like getting the feedback and encouragement my friends offer while I’m in the middle of a creation. It motivates me to continue. It’s also good for marketing. People love to see what went into something they might be interested in buying. I know I do.

The Awkward Stage

Right now, kestrel #3 is at that awkward stage. The spot where nothing looks right and I question whether or not I should just wad the page up and throw it in the garbage. It’s not the Panic Stage still, because I haven’t tried to fix anything and failed yet. I just know something’s wrong.

It's the tail. The tail is slightly off in the angle, making all of the other lines wrong on it when I try to add the feathers. Panic stage is starting to set in.
It’s the tail. The tail is slightly off in the angle, making all of the other lines wrong on it when I try to add the feathers.

Found the Problem

It’s the angle of the tail. So I erased the tail and started over on it. Three times! Finally, the tail looks like it should and I am happy and can move on. Panic stage eased somewhat.

He's ruffled in the wind, but there's something else wrong. I'm at the panic stage of this creation.
He’s ruffled in the wind, but there’s something else wrong.

But now I can see that there is a line issue with the wing tips. It needs to be straight, not curved. And I can fix this now that I recognize the problem. Until I saw the picture in another way, on the progress pic I posted, I didn’t see the problem but I had been fighting a disturbing sense that something was not right.

More Problems

Once the wings were fixed, I noticed the barring on the back was all wrong.The lines were traveling the wrong angles.

I’d also gotten too heavy handed with the black, and there was too much black. Everywhere. The average person might not have noticed the misguided bars or the fact that I used too much black, but if someone really loves kestrels, this is something they would have noticed. So I picked up all the color from the upper back. Then I had to pick up the color from the middle wing. And I had to remove some of the black around his eye.

Then I had to replace some of the black that made up his eye, lol. I was really entrenched in panic stage by this point, let me tell you.

When I finally got it all repainted, it was much better and worth all the effort.

Pushing Through

I’m past the panic stage now, but there are still issues to fix going forward. I know what I need to do, though, and that makes all the difference in the world.

When have you ever experienced this sort of dismay? When you hit a panic stage do you quit, or do you push through? How long does it take to overcome the feeling that you’ve just wasted your time and resources to get to that point? Thankfully, this phase is usually short-lived for me if I am able to keep working and I don’t quit.

Whew! Finished.

I’m quite pleased with it now that all the grief is over. I’m also glad I didn’t quit when the work of it got tough. Soon this little kestrel will be on her way to a new home on the west coast. Here’s the photo I used as a model.

Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.
Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.

Like seeing my process?

Here’s another of my other posts with progression photos. I’ll try to begin adding a progression post with every painting or work I do going forward.

Green Dragon (prismacolor pencil)

 

Too Many Irons in the Fire?

Too Many Irons in the Fire

This is a fiery sunset photo taken several years ago and it prompted my idea to write this post about having too many irons in the fire. Dense dark clouds hung low on the horizon, allowing the setting sun to illuminate so brightly as a backdrop giving the appearance of wildfires raging on the distant mountains.

If you’ve ever read any of my flash fiction based on photo prompts, you’ll understand why the image isn’t something you might immediately associate with the topic I’ve connected to today. Images stimulate my imagination in roundabout ways. The connections I make to them aren’t exactly direct, but I think this one is close.

And if you’ve been reading my blog for more than a year, you’ve probably seen this post. Every year I go through the same process at about this time. So to save some time, I took this post out of archives, updated it a little bit, and turned it back out.

Too Many Irons in the Fire

If you have the tendency, like me, to take on too many projects at once then you’ll know exactly why imagery of fire brings this saying to mind. “Too many irons in the fire”.

I’m not sure of the original meaning of this phrase, but when I hear it I think of cattlemen of a decade or so ago, rounding up cows. Branding irons in a fire.

If there’s too many irons piled on the fire, then none of them will heat evenly and the branding of the cattle will be more chaotic. The irons become tangled in that pile.

My Chaotic State of Mind

As it relates to my topic of musing for today, I have a tendency to get too many things going at once. And then all of the projects suffer because it’s not possible to allocate enough time to each all of the time. My tasks become jumbled like the piled on irons in the fire.

As it relates to nature, I think this is a uniquely human condition. I wonder how natural an occurrence among us it is? Does it only happen to a certain type of person, or is it random – afflicting everyone at some point?

I’ve taken a few irons out recently. It’s usually at this time of year when I notice just how many irons are in the fire. Because it’s tax time and tax time means I have to focus on ledgers and tax stuff.

Slipping through the Cracks

Although I’m still managing to get some writing done, other tasks as slipping. I have a piece of art work due by the end of this week and I’ve yet to start on it. It’s one to accompany the Green Dragon I finished last week. That must be remedied today. I’ve been reading up on the tax information for this year and trying to get an understanding of depreciation. That’s the one aspect of filing that keeps sending me to a CPA instead of doing them myself. I want to understand how to do this.

Taxes and art are not exactly occupying the same space in my brain, so switching back and forth from one to the other isn’t easy.

The process of figuring out what needed to be done, which forms needed to be filed, and what expenses could be deducted, and on and on ad nauseum keep me so occupied that very few of the other irons in my fire have received much attention lately.

I’m almost done with the tax headache and we may still end up needing to bring them to an accountant. But at least I have a better understanding of how to keep better records this year because of the struggle I’ve undergone over the past few weeks. (And I say this every year. But it does get better each year, so I’m not considering that a total failure.)

Clearing Out at Least One of the Irons in the Fire

Now that the most demanding iron is nearly out of the fire, I can add some of the other ones back in. And rekindle the flames. This fire of mine is a creative one and each iron is a desire to create. To create an art of the imagination, whether in the form of words in a story or photos arranged as visual art or seed-planting or business-growing.

What desires do you have burning and are you plagued with having too many irons in the fire?