Negotiated Project: Week 10

26th January 2023

Those of you that have stuck with me on this journey, will realise I’ve not done much with Recycled materials. Fear not! When researching the Art Povera movement and ecological artists. I came across Vivan Sundaram and his works with used engine oil and charcoal.

I have access to lots of used engine oil. I felt the canvas should be mix of wood and recycled paper. So I found a piece of hardboard and paired that with 640gsm Khadi Indian Rcycled Cotton Paper.

I took over a dirty workbench in the man cave that I call a garage. Found a rag and using the pour and wipe technique, covered the board and paper in oil.

I love how it reacted with the different materials and the monotone colours that could be achieved. I then mixed up some Zinc White pigment powder and Linseed oil. I had an monotone image of a peregrine falcon that I had created in an Adobe Ilkustrator session. Using it as a guide I applied the Zinc White paint using a pallette knife and blended it into the oil.

I absolutely loved creating this piece, it was smelly and messy, it flowed. I was lost in the process and it really felt like I was getting what I wanted across.

I wanted the subject to be nature because the medium represents the industrial world we live in and the damage we have done to our world for the sake of progress.

Negotiated Project: Week 9

19th January 2023

This week everything just started to come together. My first painting is egg tempra on a plywood offcut.

I loved mixing and using this paint. I used one egg yolk for this whole painting. I was inspired to try this method by a Cathy Pink painting at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol.

To make the best of this medium I need to spend a lot more time understanding how to blend and layer the colours to get the tones I would like. The painting below started out as a mark making exercise to understand using egg tempra and mixing the paint. The flowers just emerged.

The upside is how easy it is to clean my equipment. Downsides are you can’t store this paint and would need to remember your mix to match the shades, it drys really quickly.

I feel I created “flowers” in a naive style. One of my fellow students said it remined her of Renni Mackintosh, maybe I was subconsciously channeling some China I have at home with his designs on? As I was taking photos I noticed the red plastic coffee table we have in the studio at University. What better irony to photograph a sustainable piece on a mass produced plastic table.

I will use egg tempr again, but I will have to adapt my technique to get the best of this medium.

My next image is paint using linseed oil as a binder. I deliberately kept it to a very limited pallette of three colours.

As I started to put the paint down using a pallette knife I remembered a photograph of my friends horse I had taken. His coat is a mixture if these hues and the painting morphed into an abstract representation of him.

I don’t have any air tight containers to store the oil paints. Something I need to figure out how I can do this in a sustainable manner.

This way of mixing paint really suits my style of working, I can see myself using this a lot in the future.

Negotiated Project: Week 8

12th January 2023

Making my own pigments!

I found the time to make two pigment powders.  The sources were compost from my muck heap and rust from the chassis of a 1968 Triumph Spitfire, one of my husbands restoration projects.  Sources with personal meaning.

Another steep learning curve. The rust was definitely easier to grind down into a nice fine powder.  However, I found it hard to get a colour out of it just by adding a binder and medium.  I need to do more experimenting with it, use different process to leach the colour.  It had a great gritty texture which I will remember for future projects.

Rust Piece
Pigment Powder
Testing the rust paste

The compost was harder to break down and I should have spent more time with pestle and mortar. I only used it when I made egg tempra. It was a lovely texture and quite easy to paint with, however a finer paste would most definitely have been a better consistency.

3yr matured compost or as gardener’s call it black gold
Needed more grinding for a finer powder
Ready to mix with the egg yolk
Egg Tempra Compost Brown

My conclusion is that I possibly need some form of alchemist qualification.

I definitely need to improve my techniques and understand a bit more about extracting to colour from unusual sources.

Negotiated Project: Week 7

5th January 2023

I wanted to have something to measure how easy or not hand made paints were to work with. I have a photo of the treeline in my horses field that is the backdrop of my world. I see it every day, watch the sunsets and seasons come and go.

My decision was to paint the scene in the following mediums:

  • Watercolour
  • Acrylics
  • Waterbased oil paints

My waterbased oils were new and if anything renewed my resolve that I was on the right path, it was the copies amount of plastic packaging this set of paints were wrapped in.

It had been quite an experience working out the mix of powder, gum extract and water to make the paste. It’s very much by feel and each pigment seems to have its own way it wishes to be created.

I’ve found the whole process quite therapeutic. I didn’t get to finish the scene in waterbased oils. I think because I am still feeling all the outside pressures, I was procrastinating a little. Something had to give and the off the shelf waterbased oils painting was it.

I still have three sketches on the same paper in three different mediums. Acrylics, watercolours and my own waterbased paint from pigment powders. I loved making my paints and placing them down on the paper, I found it easy to mix and blend. I also put two different powders together and mixed on my glass palette to achieve the colour or tone I wanted.

Looking at these three images, they represent my journey in this project and that finally in the last one I am starting to feel my inner creative again. I’ve stopped trying to control the process.

Negotiated Project: Week 6

8th December 2022

Today was our formative assessment presentation. I could post a copy of it but in fact I’m going to be honest. I’m exhausted.

I had Covid-19 a couple of weeks ago, and my son is off school with it now. This post isn’t about how great I’m doing, who I’ve researched and what inspires me.

This is about how I’m second guessing myself, how I think I was crazy running with this idea. Who am I kidding?

I work part time, have a family, horses and dogs. Christmas is literally around the corner. Postal strikes mean that if you order anything you have no idea when it will arrive. I have long term health conditions and it seems something else has decided to join that particular party, and I’m juggling hospital appointments as well.

How on earth am I going to find the time to source pigments in a timely fashion? Make my own handmade paper? Organise family Christmas? Fit my bookkeeping work in?

My life is actually part of my project. In all, it’s chaotic everything gets done even if its last minute style. It just means I need to work this out slightly differently.

After talking with my tutor, there were some pigment powders that had been given to the department and I was allowed to use them to start making my own paints. This resolved the problem of relying on postage, or the fact that I didn’t have time to take the dogs on long foraging walks.

The handmade paper? Well after researching I really like the company ethos of Khadi so in the new year I will look at ordering some.

Still stressed, still feel like I’m running out of time but my presentation went well and I received some good feedback. I also have a way forward to practice my paint making skills. A positive outcome.

Suzannah Crook 1:1 Negotiated Project

30 November 2022

What a lovely person Susannah is, we met at Weston Art Space,, and she very kindly gave a little tutorial in how to use natural pigments and make water based paint.

When I first thought about becoming a more sustainable artist and doing more, I didn’t realise how much I would learn. Although do feel I may need to brush up on my geology.

It was quite enlightening that could source the raw materials to make yellow ochre, red ochre, manganese, peat and chalk from the local areas. A lot of the places I go for walks have rich findings.

Obviously some colours are difficult to find , blues and greens for example. For the pigments you can’t source yourself, there are suppliers of non toxic paint pigments such as Celtic Sustainables.

Walnuts, Willow and Silver Birch bark are good to make inks, and willow twigs can be used t make your own charcoal by placing in a tin in your wood burner. Actually, wood ash is something I could use .

Susannah explained the process from finding the stone or soil, to grinding to a fine powder and mullering the pigment powder with a binder like gum arabic for water based paint, and finally the paste, which you can store if water based in a jar.

The materials and process
More of the process
The paint we made from local soil and my sample mark making

We only had time to make one pigment, and I enjoyed having a go, watching Susannah at work and understanding the process. I wrote lots of scribbled notes!

I plan to use left over wood or repurposed wood from found objects etc, as well as handmade paper. Susannah uses wood from a local arboretum and handmade paper from Khadi, there is also Two Rivers paper local to us in Somerset. I would like to give papermaking a go but for now I will probably buy from a sustainable source.

I had two good book recommendations :

The Organic Artist – Nick Neddo

Earthen Pigments – Sandy Webster

I certainly left our session inspired and looking forward to having a go at sourcing pigments and making my own paints.

Negotiated Project: Week 4

Artist Research: Maria Medina-Schecter

 Maria Medina-Schechter uses mycelium, the material used to grow mushrooms. Painting with pigments of organic blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, teas, and coffee.*99

She is an eco-artist and this pdf in the Ecological Citizen is really interesting about her art and approach using what is a living material.

I’m interested in the lightfastness of the natural fruit pigments. Do you have to accept that it is part of your artwork, that it will fade in time? Or are their natural things you can add that prevent the colour fading?

More to ponder on!

Negotiated Project: Week 4

24th November 2022

Today’s session was about our formative assessment. We have to do a presentation on where we have got to, with our projects at the end of term.

The brief is 5 mins 10 slides maximum. What media am I drawn to? Why? How does this help articulate ideas? Include discarded experiments as well.

I’m not concerned about the presenting ideas in front of others. I get more nervous about being questioned on my influences and movements that inspire me.

I am still that art student who struggles to remember names, etc, etc, unless it is written in front of me. An out of the blue question is likely to make me panic that I sound like a philistine!

Besides all that, I’ve been given the name of a local artist Susannah Crook, who uses locally sourced natural pigments. I’ve emailed her and am waiting for a reply. Hopefully, I can attend a workshop with her.


17 November 2022

My ceramic 3D piece wasn’t bisque fired in time for this workshop. The pot I used was one that had been created by someone and left, so for the purposes of this exercise I was able to glaze it.

There were some really lovely textures on this pot and one side had iron oxide on it and I felt this needed to be brought out and complimented. I used 3 different green glazes, one of which was green wood ash.

Green Glazes Used and Transparent White
Used different techniques pouring, brushing, wipe on/wipe off

I enjoyed experimenting with the different techniques for applying the glaze. I poured the shiny glaze on the inside and the brushed or sponged on and wiped off the sides with the other glazes.

The texture in the clay played a part in my decision of how to apply the glaze as I wanted to highlight them and bring them out as it would be easy to flatten them by applying too thickly.

I was very happy with final result even though it wasn’t my pot originally. I hope I’ve done the creator proud.

Negotiated Project: Week 3

3 November 2022

Artist Research: Frank To

On our visit to the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol one of the exhibits was King of Bees by Frank To. It really grabbed my attention because it was ignited gunpowder and coloured powder on wooden board.

I really liked the detail and the irony of using explosives to depict a species that is in decline wasn’t lost on me. On face value I probably took it as an environment piece, political commentary on the state of climate change. There are a lot of plastics and chemicals involved in the process of making modern gunpowder. However, when I started looking into Frank’s gunpowder art, I think there is a deeper message and mission behind all this.

Frank To want’s his art to inspire people to think twice about the value of life. One of his collaboration projects is the “Humanium Metal Initiative”. Humanium is a metal made from the melting down of illegal firearms that are seized across the world and made into other products. He supports attempts to reduce gun violence.

Frank is also part of instagram #artistssupportpledge. Each time an artist reaches £1,000 of sales, they pledge to buy £200 of work from other artists. This came about during Covid-19 restrictions. I have started following him on insta because I find his work inspirational. I respect that he has this underlying passion that underpins his work and use of the explosive powders with other materials.

Art with a purpose.