Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mulmur Red, Making Oil Paint

We recently visited a spot in the Mulmur Hills.  It was down a "No Exit" road on the southern brim of the Pine River Valley.  Sunny.  Cool.  Quiet.  We arrived early.  The road disappeared over the valley brim in and interesting setting.  It was clearly the opportunity to paint a red - green painting.

Painting in Process

Some friends said "I don't get it, where was the red?"  I had anticipated this question and gathered some of the mud from alongside the road.  It was showing through all over the place.

Mud Dried Out

Then I thought, "why not make some paint from it?"  So I ground up the dry mud on a tile using a flat stone.  Now I wasn't going to get serious enough to get the particle size into the microns.  Just an experiment.

Ground, then Sifted Through wire Strainer

This is finer than sand but pretty course.  So I went to my only in house resource and begged an old stocking from my wife.  She frowned as usual.  What the hell....

Sifting Sand #2

A black stocking yet!  It cut about half of the product out.  You can see the colour intensity increase as the particle size decreased.

Red vs Gray

I turned to the Kama Pigments web site to look at their paint making demo.  Here is how I proceeded.

Linseed into the "Pigment"

You are right in thinking that this is a poor substitute for production pigment.  But my raw material is from the target painting spot.  And I'm not about to go and buy grinders and rollers.

Before Tubing

This stuff is about like putty.  You add oil and or extenders etc.  (a whole new world of paint chemistry) to get the consistency you think you want.  You should grind with a muller here.  Then tube away.

Back End Tube Filling

Not a difficult task, but it can be messy until you get the feel for it.  Fill a bit, tap a bit.

So I did a few 8x10s primed with oil.  Just to see how it felt as a ground.

Two Mulmur Red Coloured Grounds

The colour is warm somewhere between a burnt sienna (Italian mud) and a transparent red oxide.  Makes marks, drips and sags.  I painted on one of these today.  The larger particles felt like scratchy pebbles.  However, where the fines were deposited and dry, the board felt OK to paint on.  I wiped off the rough spots and painted without incident.

Next time I make my own, I'll use proper pigment.  Pretty easy to do.  High quality low cost paint.  Then again, I'd rather paint.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Brush Review

During my last painting course many students expressed the need for some good brushes.  Most in the class were painting in oil so I set up an order from Rosemary Brushes in the UK.  I found one student who was ordering some brushes for some reason I didn't understand.  She assured me she had thought her order through.  Still I couldn't find the"Classic" type brushes in my catalogue.  So I went on line.  Sure enough they were in the electronic catalogue.  They are a blend of hogs bristle and synthetic.  They were said to hold their shape longer than the Chungking bristle and to wear longer.  So I added a few #6 and #8 to my order ( I don't often use a size less than a #6).  The other type of brush in that mixed order was Masters Choice, a soft mongoose used for precision drawing by many.

The Classics and Chunkings arrived and I couldn't tell them apart.  Both have long black handles.  So I added a dab of red acrylic to the Classics.

  Top to Bottom, Chungking flat, Classic flat, Masters Choice Flat, Chungking filbert

No, the handles are not curved!  That's just my clumsy wide angle camera work.

The next step was to paint with them and make observations.  After a few hours on the easel I found the claims to seem true regarding the shape of the brushes.

Left to Right, Masters, Chungking, Classic.  All #6

The image shows the brushes after drying in their clean state, after a painting session.

The Classic feels "tighter" than the Chungkings.  More stiff.  They make sharper marks, at least when new.  The Chungking holds more paint and seems to help when applying a "loose" passage.  The classics tend to leave a more hard-edged look.  I worked the Classics a second time and found basically the same things held true.  However I was able to obtain a bigger paint load as the brushes were broken in.  So now I don't find myself reaching for either type.  I may or may not find myself with a red blobbed brush in my hand.  I do look for one if I need more precision - not often.  It will take more time to judge the wear rate.

On this same order I took possession of a #16 Chungking.  A beautiful brush.  It was my third order from Rosemary.  So you can tell I like her brushes.  The company is a pleasure to deal with and the response is amazingly fast.  5 days to my doorstep all the way from England. Great brushes at a reasonable price.