Exploratory Painting

I am always experimenting with different natural materials, such as lime, marble powder, fine sand, ash, to create depth and structure. The challenge lies in bonding these materials and adhere them to a flexible canvas. Sometimes, they just crumble away after drying. Using a mix of pure lime with marble powder, which is used for […]

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Decorative Wall Finishes

The design of walls, their colours and surface structure, decisively influences how well we feel in it. Of course, this also subject to trends and fashions, but I think it should fit to the personality of the people living in it. It is like a coat that envelops us.

There is a universe of ready made products, imitating old techniques such as Stuc or Tadelakt. As I have written several times, I learned how to make and apply decorative coatings by just using sand, lime and marble. I follow old recipes, which are partly written down and so surpassed, but as always, the real secrets you learn only when you work with it. There are almost no restrictions, you can coat almost any underground with an appropriate pre-treatment.
The result of this work is always unique, always personal and never exactly foreseeable, because I work with natural materials. The little irregularities are part of the decoration and make it so distinctive and charming.
I have already decorated many hundred square meters of walls, I work I really like and therefore, I included it into my repertoire.

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A New Masterpiece: Silver

Gold and silver are often mentioned in the same breath, somehow belonging together, they represent about the same symbols and attributes. Admittedly, I have a slightly different feeling about silver, to me it is more clean and has more clarity, typifies modernity and technology.
Anyway, after painting Gold, it was obvious to paint the other half of that couple.

As always, I applied many layers of paint in varying thickness, by using spatulas, brushes and self-made fabric stamps.
I then sanded or abraded them and anew these layers. Instead of genuine silver, I used silver paint since it does not oxidize.
Here a series of photos documenting the painting process a bit:

Silver - steps
Silver – steps

The result is as always a little surprising also for myself, because the structures arise on the go, at random.

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Swedish Paint

Few weeks ago, I wrote about a natural paint, based on flower and pigments, I created for painting a new garage door.
Last week, I wanted to paint the shelter for our firewood in the garden and again, I cooked my paint, using the same recipe but with red iron oxide pigment.
The shelter is much more exposed to weather (sometimes rain, but mostly sun and wind) than the garage door and thus a durable paint is needed to protect the wood.
Permanent exposure to the sun is a big challenge, most of the synthetic paints peel of after a few months.  So far, I used Osmo paints but even those semi-natural paints chipped of after two years.
It can become an expensive hobby to paint all the outdoor wooden pieces every two years. A durable natural paint, tested under Scandinavian weather conditions for centuries seems to be a good alternative.
It’s easy to create and it’s cheap: 5 L of paint costs about 5 €!
Thinking of the environment, I also wanted to avoid any toxic ingredients.
The paint should last approx. 4-5 years and restoration is easy as the surface needs to be brushed before repainting it.

Swedish Red  or Rouge de Falun

In the town of Falun is a copper mine which has been explored for more than thousand years. The red iron oxide is a by-product of the copper mining. The earth above the copper contains ocher, silicon and zinc. At plain air, it washes out and dries. The result is a fine red powder, the red iron oxide.
The mine closed in 1992. Today, the area is on the UNESCO list and a tourist hot spot.

Since a few years, we have Swedish family members and one of the first pictures which popped up in our heads were those of the nice red wooden houses in Sweden.

Red Swedish House
Red Swedish House
Isabell Schulz - Yellow Swedish House https://www.flickr.com/photos/isapisa/8471500192 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Isabell Schulz – Yellow Swedish House https://www.flickr.com/photos/isapisa/8471500192 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In the 16 century the city municipalities ordered home owners to paint their house front facing the street in red to impress the royals.
Later on, it became a countrywide fashion to paint all new country houses red, urban villas in yellow and window frames and fences in red or green.  At this time, the paint did not contain any linseed oil or savon noir, but sometimes brine, beer or tar.

Either you cook your own paint, or you buy it from the two manufacturers of traditional Swedish paint, Falu Rödfärg and Moose Färg.
Nowadays, the colour palette offers also different shades of blue, yellow, grey, green and even black.

Application

The base recipe stays the same, just different pigments are added.
You can use this kind of paint also for painting wooden floors, furniture, already painted walls (plaster boards like Rigips and Fermacell) and bricks.
Ferrous sulfate protects the wood against fungus infestation and is not needed for indoor paints.
The surface needs to be rough, the best is to seal it in advance.
Even an application on paper walls is possible but you need to make the wall absorbent with a layer of acrylic.

 

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Structures and Surfaces

So far, I intensively worked with colours, their production and application, and I learned a lot about the interaction of various binders, and produced some really cool effects 🙂
For example, I got the idea for my paintings After the Fire and Ashes when cleaning the fireplace after a nice and cosy evening in front of it. The picture above is a montage created from a detail of my painting After the Fire and charred wood.
The surface of these paintings is relatively flat, it gets depth through the application of different thick layers of colour and raw pigments.

Now I would like to work more plastically and for this reason I want to learn more about surfaces and structures in abstract painting.
It seems to be a vast field of experimentation! I watched countless tutorials on YouTube and it’s partly very adventurous what some artists create;-)
I would like to focus on using natural materials, f.e. on marble powder, sand, wood chips, ashes, plants and what I find along my way.
Right now I am collecting ideas and immerse myself in my Painter’s Handbook to learn more about the interaction between supports and applied materials.

Supports, Pretreatments and Materials

So far, I produced most of my colors by myself, only the primer and the varnish for Passion vs. Ratio I bought.
Doing everything by myself is like a huge field of experimentation and  a lot of fun. When tinkering I learn a lot about the successive reactions of the materials and of course, I discover also my limits. I realize, that I do not have enough knowledge about the use and reactions to various substrates and materials and so far I did not really think a lot about the long-term durability of the result.
So I researched to learn more about supports, to learn their properties and necessary pretreatments. Until now I have almost exclusively painted on canvas, one exception is Focus, here I have worked on wood.
The canvasses I’ve bought ready, were already impregnated and provided with several layers of primer. Following advice of a grown artist, I applied another layer of primer. Canvas is a relatively flexible support and must be treated differently than a rigid, such as wood (or walls). A primer serves to make the surface smooth and receptive to the colors, without these being too absorbed and not to be rejected. A common primer is gesso, a mixture of lime, gypsum, rabbit skin glue and white pigments. Quite complicate to produce, since the mixing ratio of the ingredients decides if it adheres well on the support and the paints on it.
That is the traditional mixture, but bought gesso has not always something to do with that and it differs in its quality properties to the price 😉
For the longevity of a painting, a well-prepared support is at least as important as the application of the colours.
As I soon would like to work more on wood, I shall deal more with this subject.

Your tips are very welcome.