The Worshipful Company…

In England, very little is known of the painting trade prior to the 13th century. It was at this point when ‘guilds’ began to form (an association of artisans or merchants who controlled the practice of their craft in a particular town) and amongst them were the Painters Company and the Stainers Company. With the consent of the Lord Mayor of the City of London in 1502, the two guilds merged and became The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers. The guild regulated the quality of the craft and acted as protector of the trades secrets. In 1606 Parliament granted a bill to enforce protection from outside competition such as plasterers. The Act legislated for a seven year apprenticeship and barred plasterers from painting. The enforcement of this Act was sought by The Worshipful Company until the 19th century.

Ted Ochre

Red was your colour.

If not red, then white. But red

Was what you wrapped around you.

Blood-red. Was it blood?

Was it red-ochre, for warming the dead?

Haematite to make immortal

The precious heirloom bones, the family bones.

Extract from the poem ‘Red’ by Ted Hughes (married to Sylvia Plath when she committed suicide in 1963)

Haematite is an iron oxide and the name is derived from a Greek word meaning blood.
Ochre is clay that is coloured by varying amounts of haematite.

Pigment alchemy

Plant colours – Breathing of Cosmic Present

Mineral colours – Remembrance of Cosmic Past

Aniline colours – Coal tar, nitrogen demons

Where the sylph touches lightly upon the plant being, it transforms the sugar into colour. This relationship of the plant colour to sugar reveals itself in the fact that most of the plant colours are forms of glucose, that is, they still have an unformed sugar component. Plant colours contain no nitrogen. Indigo is an exception; it comes however from certain legumes – a plant family which occupies an exceptional position in regard to nitrogen.

Blossom colour sylphs
Leaf green undines
Root colour gnomes

Margarethe Hauschka-Stavenhagen

From the diary: Kirov

lazure in Kirov
For a few weeks in 2001, I was voluntary lazure painting in Kirov, Russia. It was in a State Orphanage that accommodated up to seventy children aged 4-5 years. The photo (two together for a better view) is from a section of the entrance area but we also managed to lazure the corridors leading to the bedrooms.
When the work was finished, the staff organised a tea party and I was given cards drawn by the children and a couple of beautifully crafted gifts. Later, when music started playing, a cute little girl took me by the hand and led me to the front to dance…I still blush when I think about it!

Lemniscate

A figure-eight shaped curve whose equation in polar coordinates is ρ2=a2 cos 2θ

In algebraic geometry a lemniscate may refer to any of several figure eight shaped curves. The word comes from the Latin “lēmniscātus” meaning “decorated with ribbons.”

In lazure painting it is the ‘brushing out’ technique of the translucent glazes.

Herr Diesbach

One day in around 1704, a Herr Diesbach was settling down to make carmine lake according to a tried and tested recipe – mixing ground up cochineal, alum and ferrous sulphate, then precipitating it all with an alkali – when he realised he had run out of alkali. He borrowed some from his boss, but did not realise it had been distilled with animal oil. Suddenly, to his amazement, he found blue instead of red in his flask. The clue is in the ‘animal’ element: the mixture had contained blood, which contains iron. Diesbach had unwittingly created iron ferrocyanide, which was dubbed ‘Prussian blue’ and was instantly popular, particularly as a house paint.

From Travels through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay.