Monday, November 17, 2014


I  have been working with a pigment called brazil. It comes from the wood of the brazil tree in the country of Brazil. Mixed with tempera, it yields a weird pulpy substance, a red that ranges from blue red to yellow red depending on the mordant. The dye is extracted from the wood pulp with lye. It is then precipitated with  alum to give it body, and becomes a lake. This is more like a strange pulpy lake requiring quite a bit of medium as the material seemingly expands when wet. It is also called Natural Red 24. Brazil was used in the Middle Ages in european art.

The shades of red are incredibly delicate and nuanced. It reminds me of an ethereal colorant like canthaxathin that is extracted from flamingo feathers and seashells... like a french vermillion made rosy. I wanted to capture a specific glowing light using brazil, because it's soft saturated tones capture most closely the light at dawn. The very first light of day must be a color that is warm, like home, and the heart, yet radiant beyond imagining, as it gives birth to the day.

morning's minion  14 x 18 inches oil on canvas

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