Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Art in Action

Each year I like to go somewhere special for my birthday at the end of July. This year was the first time I went to Art in Action. I really enjoyed it.

One of the main things I wanted to do was to visit Jackie Morris's stand. I follow her blog because I really enjoy her painting. On the way in we saw her recently 'wrapped' van with images from the Tell Me a Dragon Book.


I love the quirkiness of her Cheetah and Cherry series. Some weeks before I bought a bag with one of the Cheetah and Cherry paintings printed on. I can't afford the paintings at this point, but I can afford a bag.

So, when I visited the stand, I aimed first for the 'Tell Me a Dragon' book. Jackie writes and illustrates children's picture books. I also picked up a book about animals of the Bible to use with my Sunday School.

Next I took them to Jackie to have her sign the Dragon book. Isn't it fun! not just an autograph!
Then I had the cheek to ask her to sign the bag I had bought before. I even had a Sharpie for her to sign with. and so another special little drawing. She was happy to do it and several others in the queue sighed with envy wishing they had a bag to sign!

I had also decided to do one of the workshops. Most were already full. I wanted to do Illuminated Manuscript, but no places. So, I did Painting a Tudor Rose with Egg Tempera - or something. Egg Tempera is the same sort of paint technique as was used for illuminated manuscripts, so that was fine. Here is a series of photos of the process.
The instructor with her range of pigments and the types of earth and minerals she makes them from.
The types of earth and minerals used in the more ancient times. Interesting that white lead will change to yellow and then red with more heat. You can make a subdued colour wheel to work from with the earth and minerals here. They have been painted inside the shell pallets next to the red pigment.
Later (still a long time ago in the middle ages!) Other minerals were used to make brighter colours. Especially blue colours used for the robes of the Madonna.

This is a chart which shows how the colours and minerals were perceived and used. There was a 'spiritual' meaning as the colours moved from the dark/earth colours to the light, the pinnacle being gold. The colours were related to the planets as well.
Here are some of the tools used to make the pigments.

and how to prepare the egg tempera:
Break a fresh egg and strain away the egg white using both sides of the shell. Roll the egg yoke round in your hands to remove as much as the white as you can.

Hold the yoke by the sac in the fingers on one hand. Break the yoke at the bottom and squeeze the liquid from the sac into your bowl. This ensures you don't get bits of sac in the paint.

mix in distilled water - an equal amount to the liquid from the yoke.

continue to mix, adding a drop of spike lavendar for preservation (some people use quite a bit of vinegar for this purpose instead)

having ground your pigment, take a bit and mash it against the edge of a tile pallet to ensure it is very fine.
put a bit of the egg mixture on the pallet and slowly mix with the pigment a bit at a time. You need enough to keep it from drying on the pallet.

Try out the mixture for painting on gessoed paper. you don't want the brush loaded. you will use a dry brush.

and my end result:
Not as good as it could be, but I have a bit of an idea how to do it now. Or at least I understand the instructions in my illuminated manuscript book. It would be better with a dryer brush and also with a longer period of time for the layers to dry inbetween. It is interesting that the bottom layer was green! It gives depth to the other colours. However, I think I was a bit heavy handed with it.
You can check out the Prince's school of Traditional Arts if you want to know more about egg tempera and other types of techniques.

Whether I will actually use the knowledge sometime, I don't know!

1 comment:

irenemacwilliam said...

Hi Sandy
This reminded me of doing my A level art ..... I did calligraphy and believe it or not we used to work on vellum, we had to spend hours scraping off the fat, we mixed our own black inks, i think we ground something. We used i think it was egg white for our gold leaf illuminated capital letters. I still have some unused bits of vellum.
Irene MacWilliam