Firing Pigments: Going hotter

While it has been good to see the colour changes that can happen when applying heat to the iron based ochres, this controlled fashion has limits for me.  Without pushing things I can get the pigment samples up to about 1100 °C (roughly 2000 °F) and this gets me well into the brown range of

Gessoing and drawing

I’m feeling very focused on the Red pine tree in my mind right now, and so I’ve moved ahead and created the panel while I’m also finalizing the drawing. The panel itself is a single slab of poplar that I cut down a few years ago.  As I did with the three panel prototype I

Pine Trees

With the introduction of crows, I’ve begun to realize that what is drawing me to these birds is their connection to my childhood memories. The other strong connection I can remember is to red pine trees. As a child, I spent countless hours under these trees playing, and since this project is focused on trees,

Changing palette

With my interest in crows going strong, I’ve realized that the Conestogo colours I collected earlier really aren’t what I need in this particular painting.  Those colours will be great in another work, but for my crow I’ve decided to take some time and explore the rocks I collected in Cobalt, Ontario this spring (if


It’s not unusual in my art practice to have things take unexpected twists.  So, I really haven’t fought the introduction of crows into my tree paintings.  Crows are something very much of home for me, and connecting to them within my art seems natural. But, attracting crows isn’t the same as attracting most other birds. 

Guelph Quarry

Today my eldest son and I went to the Guelph quarry to go rock hounding. We had a beautiful sunny day and the perfect cool weather to enjoy ourselves.  We found many different crystals (a few which can be used for pigments) and came back after a full day with three big bags full of

Firing Conestogo Pigments

With the pigment from the Conestogo river collected and purified I began to test the effects of heating in earnest.  Increasing the temperature by 100ºF each time, I tested the samples from 300ºF (150ºC) up to 1700ºF (925ºC).  This was a whole day’s work, as the kiln needed constant attention and the samples were being

Ink making

Now that the fall weather is here in force, the horse chestnut tree behind our house is loosing its leaves and its nuts.  I’ve used the hulls for the nuts before to make ink (something that Fr. Nathanael showed me many years ago).  So today the kids and I gathered up what we could and

Building a prototype canvas

With the drawing underway, I’ve decided to also begin working on some ideas I have for the construction of the panel.  Throughout my work, I’ve always thought it was crucial to let the different materials I use influence the finished work so it is time to give the panel a voice within this process! The