Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sienna Pigment Not Siena, the town

the red cliffs of Roussillon in ProvenceThere's much lore about pigments and color. In the French village perché of Roussillon, a man and his wife lived on top of a big cliff. He was fiercely jealous of his beautiful wife, imagining she preferred other men.

Souvenirs of RoussillonFinally in a fit of rage he threw her over the cliff. Her blood ran down and stained the grey rocks a rich deep red ochre. Et voilà we have wonderful pigments coming from Roussillon... It's a place all artists should visit.

Dreaming of Tuscany...I've always loved earth colors. Sienna evokes dreams of Tuscany and was originally mined near the town of Siena, therefore it's name. A natural earth color, it was one of the first pigments used and found in many cave paintings.

Earth colors are always warm colors. Nice to remember. And they go well with all cool colors, the
blues and the greens. So be kind to the earth for giving us such lovely colors.

stacking loaves of raw sienna in the ovenThe old way to make burnt sienna is to take raw sienna rocks, stack them in a big brick oven-like room. Then they are heated/roasted to remove water from the clay till they calcify and change into a red-brown colour.

but where is her paintbox now...It's true I "turned up my nose" at my mother's exotic fruits. But when she let me play with her old paint box - that was a different story. Eventually I came to own that shiny black enamel box. It was my best friend.

7th heavenWhile I was researching watercolor recipes, I made the pilgrimage to Winsor & Newton in Harrow, near London. The front door opens into The Colourmen's Shop, a wonderful facsimilie of a 19th century art supply shop. Glass case upon case of pigment jars, old Victorian paint boxes, brushes and all the painting paraphrenalia artists love = 7th heaven.

You can pay a call at W& N's Colourmen Shop by clicking on
, then HISTORY, and then VIRTUAL MUSEUM. Have fun !


  1. tell us more of these little stories! please! please!

  2. Anonymous11:12 AM

    After doing the dishes I plan to sit down and play with my colours and pigments. You are of great inspiration dear Carol. I am no artist, but you make me believe in myself anyway!


  4. Anonymous4:40 PM

    I've always wanted to visit Winsor & Newton..dreamed about it even. Thanks for the step inside, even if virtually!

  5. neat stories. i'd love to see the process first hand.

    so where can you buy pigment in the raw and emusify them yourself? do you get them direct from sennelier and w&n? it's something i've always wanted to do. i can imagine how rich and sensual it is to mix pure pigment with linseed oil...

  6. Everything you touch seems to turn into Art! I like seeing through your eyes!!

  7. Anonymous1:29 PM

    I love all those textures. The old paint boxes look wonderful! My mother had one to but I wasn't allowed to touch it.

  8. Anonymous9:44 AM

    quelles couleurs magnifiques, de chaudes couleurs vibrantes. quel talent tu as!

  9. Anonymous6:03 AM

    If only our old brushes and paint boxes could tell us their stories. Where they have been, what they have painted..


Love hearing from you