Monthly Archives: April 2015


Ok, so it was a while back that I went to see this exhibtion, back in September 2014, but I didn’t add it here, so I thought it would be time. This is such a good place to help me remember all the exhibitions I have been to πŸ™‚ .

It was a super interesting exhibition, running through the importance and history of colour (for the artist). It is really incredible how rare and precious and even dangerous some colours/pigments were before synthetic ones came about in the 19th century. And how many poor insects were killed to get pigment before the synthetic ones came about.


Mixing some of my watercolours


My palette

A few of the many interesting facts;


ULTRAMARINE was more expensive than gold. It came in the shape of Lapis Lazuli natural mineral stones from Afghanistan that were ground into a fine powder and then mixed with wax, pine resin and gum arabic and kneaded in diluted alkaline bath— the process took days! In the 1300s the colour blue was a symbol of devotion and used for example in clothing on the Virgin Mary. There were a few other blue options (but not as precious as Lapis); Azurite, Prussian blue and smalt.


For a long time, it was hard to get a strong green pigment. One of the oldest is Verdigris, which is the green crust on the surface of copper and bronze. Interestingly green was used in Renaissance Italy as under paint for skin-tones, usually for faces.


Ochres are ancient. During the renaissance there came about a widely manufactured pigment of a bright yellow and orange tone. there was lead-tin yellow and Naples yellow which contains antimony.


Realgar is an orange mineral that has actual arsenic in it, which is extremely poisonous. So some paintings were painted with this, example by Titian and in some Dutch flower paintings.


For a very long time, the brightest red was vermilion, made from Cinnebar; a poisonous mineral. In the 19th century came an artifical version. Natural sources of red dyes are: Brazilwood, madder, stick lac -which are insects 😦 , kermes- also insects 😦 and cochineal- also insects 😦 .


Queen Victoria dressed her whole family in mauveine. Before it was synthetically made, it was the colour of the rich, because the it took 12,000 molluscs to get enough dye for a small garment. Those poor molluscs!


My brand new exhibition book! Old one full πŸ™‚Β 

A few months ago I went to see the Turner exhibition in Tate Britain. I was so looking forward to this exhibition.Β What I love about Turner, especially the later works, are that the paintings are explosions of emotions. I love the hazy unclear subjects with layers of bright colours. The bright oranges and yellows are so satisfying. At the time people thought Turner had lost it towards the end of his life, because the paintings were quite abstract and not as shall we say “understandable” as before, not in the conventional Victorian aesthetic, but I, like a lot of others, think these were the best, I enjoy these paintings of his the most. I think they ARE paintings set free, Turner painted how and what he wanted, with passion. There’s magic in these paintings, freedom for imagination, sweeping you up with emotion but with endless space to breathe and enjoy.

turner sunrise 1825-30

JMW Turner, “Sunrise” 1825-30

turner evening cloud on mount rigi seen from zug 1841

JMW Turner, “Evening cloud on mount rigi seen from zug” 1841

A few years ago I bought a book about Turner from a charity shop, little did I then know I would be seeing many of the paintings pictured there, in real life, here in this exhibition. It was so wonderful.

After seeing the EY exhibition, I stumbled upstairs to the Tate Britain’s permanent collection, which was great— and there were many more paintings by Turner there, including a self-portrait that I’ve seen many a times before. The one where he is quite young, has a fabulous scarf tied around his neck and is looking straight out towards the viewer. Seeing that one made that whole Turner exhibition experience complete. Β πŸ™‚

Meet J.M.W Turner

Meet and greet J.M.W Turner , picture taken with my phone πŸ™‚