Friday, September 15, 2006

Pigment 101

I might have mentioned in passing that I've worked for 5 years in a pigment shop. It changed my life and changed my painting when I finally got around to cooking up my own watercolor paints. Being surrounded by 500+ colors was all it took. The KP catalog cover in the pic is from one of my color test sheets..it wasn't my idea, but it works. We have dozens of color charts like the one shown, hand-made in London, Darling, how else to show the gazillion colors?


Passerbys come in begging to buy these glass jars all the time..not for sale folks! Sometimes I get asked if that's Yves Klein's Blue in the window?! No, but we do have 33 different shades of blue to choose from.
 

My handy Moleskine to the rescue. That rock chunk is a piece of unmilled pigment, Burnt Sienna. Did you know they roast Raw Sienna in a big oven to get that color? It doesn't come that way out of the earth. Ever hear of Terre Verte? The Old Masters loved it -they didn't have too many choices back then - that's Green Earth, but Terre Verte sounds classier.
  These are just a few of the Cadmium pigments - 22 different colors. They come packed in 100 gram bags - yep Metric system. That's about 3.3 ounces. Why is it when I'm in Paris, I never have any trouble with the Metric system in a patisserie..hmmm


This is what our new store looks like on west 29th street. HUGE! The old store in Soho was about the size of my closet..tiny. You couldn't turn around and by the end of day I was coughing from pigment dust. If you'd love to get covered in pigment visit the Holi Celebration in India and get it out of or into your system.

These are hand-blown glass mullers for mixing your paint up. You will not be grinding the pigment. They already did that at the mill in Germany. You'll just be integrating binder (linseed oil, egg tempera etc.) into the pigment. On the left is a pharmaceutical mortar and pestle. You can also get one in a kitchenware store. Don't tell.
P.S. For concerned readers, I made the pilgrimage to ROUSSILLON in '05 and wrote about it on PB in the May archives.

30 comments:

  1. Dreamy - I am definitly dreaming in techno-color now!!! Love all the extras... glass jars and mullers, and gorgeous brushes... What a wonderful science!

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  2. Coughing because of the powder?!?! Oh my goodness, that's not good at all, especially with the bags of cadmium. Are you a safety artist and wear a respirator when handling the pigments?

    The store I worked for stopped selling everything but the super, safe earth colors for safety reasons.

    I do like your pretter muellers and those flopper, flogger style brushes. I'm addicted to art supplies.

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  3. Although the heart of an artist beats in my chest, I wasn't equally bestowed with talent for sketching or painting. Even so, these completely awesome colors make my heart wildly palpitate. I'd love to visit and deeply inhale the dust and walk out with it sprinkled all over me. I'd come home with paints and brushes that would, alas, go unused. It's all so enthralling.

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  4. Anonymous11:51 AM

    LIVING PART DEUX - you better head over to India during the Holy(?) celebration in that case, when they fling pigment on each other!

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  5. Very nice! What can I say, you beat me to it. I'm sure Kremer appreciates the exposure he's getting. You forgot to mention that Yves Klein Blue is not available to anyone since it was a patented color created by him and now his family has control of that and they haven't allowed anyone to make it. That nice big jar of blue is Ultramarine Blue! Ok, see you later.

    Luis

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  6. looks like heaven... you, btw, are an amazing artist and I love visiting your blog ... impressive and inspiring.

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  7. Anonymous4:50 AM

    That was such a delight to read - beautiful blown glass pics and such wit.
    Bel

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  8. I took a couple of pictures in venice for you. I'll post them on my blog soon!

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  9. I LOVE my KP paintbox and am still waiting (!!) for the new paints in pans ;D. Careful there with your lungs, PB! Oh, tell me, s'il te plait, the size and brand of the brush in the burnt sienna photo? I'm determined to get to NYC before the year ends, so will definitely seek you and KP out!

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  10. Hard to imagine having all these colors around and making a CHOICE!!!

    A friend of mine used to create some of the most awesome sketches using ONLY soil and rock pigments ... the colors she achieved with chips of rock and bits of earth were incredible! Not as transportable as your watercolors, but fun!

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  11. I'm so happy you wrote this post...it's just like visiting the shop again. I'll definitely link to it when I write about my wonderful new paintbox!

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  12. Now I feel a little more knowledgable about pigment!...not that I kinew anything before, but ye know what I mean. :) Your color test sheets look better than anything I could ever paint, haha! :)

    I know how many ounces 100 grams is only because I've eaten so many 100 gram chocolate bars. >__<

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  13. Your colors look so pure. They are like the whole food version of color with no additives. :) I love them all.

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  14. The next time you are in Paris I hope you have time to take the TGV to Provence and visit the village of Roussillon where the color ochre was first dug from the ground. The earth all around the village is rust colored and all of the buildings are varying shades of ochre and rust. There is a shop selling big containers of the powder and little water color sets with the shades. It's a great place to visit, especially for an artist. Here is an entry from my blog about it:
    http://lindamathieu.com/2006/05/22/roussillon/

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  15. I want the jars...i read that they are not for sale...but since i know you doesn't that mean I have connections? Remember I am a connection in France?!?!

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  16. Interesting to see all the Kremer pigments. I have some in a drawer in my studio. I got them when I took a calligraphy class from Reggie Ezell.
    What binder do you use to make them a watercolor?

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  17. that's good to know you are so close to Penn Station, I will try and remember to get to my train early and stop by the next time I'm visiting NY, a yummy looking shop!

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  18. Anonymous11:51 PM

    Hellojust loveyour artits wonderful!I'd like to ask whatwatercolor paintingkit areyouusingin thepicture.Allthose colors.It mustbesogreat.Keep up the wonderful work.
    Linda

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  19. I love all the paint making paraphernalia. You must feel like a kid in a candy store. What's with all this coughing business? Boozing it up at the wineries, eating rich desserts, and inhaling dry pigments?! You're taking years off the tail end of your life! Take care of yourself, Carol. We need you.

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  20. Unbelievably cool!

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  21. I didn't know stores like this existed - thanks for sharing all of these pictures!

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  22. hello! thank you thank you for the mail! and this lovely post... you must head down to the luberon my dear when you get a moment... i love my pastel nuggets from the ochre i bought there. my kremers are waiting for october to arrive, then they will be mixed up with some egg tempera mix and some wax and resin. please be careful with those dusts ... a respirator is a must!
    your watercolors are magnificent by the way. i love them! gems!

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  23. I absolutely agree with Linda about visiting the village of Roussillon next time you are here. More than that, not far from Roussillon you'll find a smaller village called Rustrel. It is on the border of what we call the Colorado Provençal. You can walk amongst the ochre where they take the earth to make pigments.

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  24. ohhhh. Yves Klein blue. my favorite color!

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  25. luberon is my neighbor...now are you coming to visit or not? ;)

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  26. What a feast for the eyes. As someone who loves and misses NYC, it was a treat to have a virtual visit and see your store. It was such fun chatting with you last week. The box with my Kremer watercolor set was waiting for me on my porch when I got home tonight. I can't wait to try them out.

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  27. I envy you working in a pigments store! I use dry pigment and beeswax for my encaustic paintings.

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  28. I LOVED seeing these photographs!!!

    judi

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  29. anrosh2:22 PM

    yes - rang panchami in india celebrates colors. but one does not have so many colors as in the pigment store. 'gulal' ( RED) is the choice of colors used by most who dares to play rang. it is such an ordeal to get the color out of you and you are dressed in almost red skin till a week. But then you are drunk on 'Bhang' an alcoholic drink - so you don't know what you are doing :)

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