August 15, 2009


In this time of high summer, the world is full of the color of flowers, fruit and leaf. In the woods, mushrooms shine out in their varied tones. Humans gathered colored earth to make images eons ago, and used plants to dye cloth. Now we have those natural colors at our command, in addition to many manufactured ones.

It's thrilling to walk into a shop selling pigments, to see all those colors glowing from shelves. The powdered pigments in the jars above include natural earth colors, inorganic, mineral, and cadmiums. These colors are made by Kremer Pigments, who also carry a wide range of historic pigments, such as malachite and lapis lazuli. I grind the pigments with distilled water, keeping the prepared colors in glass jars, ready for use; how much more beautiful they are in jars than hidden in tubes.

The piles of colored wool are leftovers from various rug hooking projects. I have masses of small pieces of dyed wool, which I sometimes use for inspiration, placing odd colors next to one another to test their harmonies.

This human-made color is lushly gorgeous.


  1. Altoon, really glad to find that you are blogging, thanks to Katherine Tyrell's mention of it today. Although you and I have both shared membership in the Society of Tempera Painters for some time now, too bad I never knew that you once lived in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn! We may even have been silently painting in egg tempera in adjoining neighborhoods without knowing, (I've been in Park Slope for over 30 yrs. now doing so.)

    Your paintings are gorgeous, and impressive for size as well. It's also great hearing about your thinking process in your work.

  2. hi Mona, Brooklyn is my home town, but I didn't start painting with tempera till I moved to Vermont full time in 1994. Fresh farm eggs and pigment are a great combination.

    so glad you enjoy the blog.