Rebooting My Pigments Class For RUSH

My class at the 2015
Bellewode Symposium

You asked for it. My arm was twisted again.  I’ll be teaching my “Playing With Powdered Pigments” class at the coming November 3rd Book Arts RUSH classes.

I was asked to teach it at two prior Calontir Lilies War RUSH sessions, but I couldn’t. The location wasn’t appropriate. A little wind gust would quickly swirl away the powders wasting them or worse causing you to possibly inhale them. Neither a good idea.

Dealing with pigment powders may be harmful if not handled carefully. Your safety is important to me. While I don’t use toxic pigments in this class, learning safe methods is important because even non-toxic dust can be harmful when inhaled. And repeated exposure to them may cause irritation leading to actual harm.

If you breathe in pigments or they get into your mouth they can enter your body. If you have a cut or scratch they can penetrate your skin and be absorbed. Any of these methods may cause you a health problem, even if you aren’t allergic or have a predisposing condition.

It’s always important to know and follow safe art procedures in any studio or class. Learning how to be safe allows you to possibly someday advance and create paint from powders that are more toxic than earth pigments such as arsenic, lead, or mercury. Learning preventive basics from the beginning will help later.

Overhead view of a student making paint.

This class lets you experience making paint by hand using eight natural earth colors. And you get to take your finished paints and safety supplies home to use on your own creations. Whether you use the paint on more art or the preventive supplies to make more paint they’re yours.

While not the only way to make paint, these natural earth powders when added to a binder were used in Medieval manuscript illumination. And many are still used in paint types to this day.

I don’t know how fugitive or permanent these paints are. But this was a well-known problem for past artists. Many historic paintings look different today from how they originally appeared. Early artists experimented sometimes unsuccessfully. Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is perhaps the most famous. His experimental technique caused it to deteriorate soon after it was created.

Creating your own paints is not just fun but an adventure to do. A lesson in art process and materials’ safety. It’s also a part of history. The repetitive strokes of paint making can be a rewarding, tactile, calming experience. One I hope you will come and enjoy on November 3rd.

The class size is limited. If you don’t or can’t get in on the class here’s my Google Doc’s “Playing With Powdered Pigments” handout for your guide. Remember, “Any time ya learn, ya gain.” –Bob Ross

Categories: Classes

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