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a Passion For COLOR

“Colour is the touch of the eye,
Music to the deaf,
A word out of darkness.”

― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

 Behind every color recipe is a passion for historical pigments and painting techniques.

Behind every color recipe is a passion for historical pigments and painting techniques.

Inspired by the studies of manuscript painting techniques and a passion for the history of pigments, I began making my own paint nearly 10 years ago. This process of working with raw materials and traditional recipes has become integral to my own painting practice

 Viewing a 15th century Khamsa of Nizami manuscript in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Viewing a 15th century Khamsa of Nizami manuscript in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

 "Il dono del un mantello a un povero" (1297-99) by Giotto in the Upper Basilica of San Francesco fresco cycle of the life of Saint Francis.

"Il dono del un mantello a un povero" (1297-99) by Giotto in the Upper Basilica of San Francesco fresco cycle of the life of Saint Francis.

While studying Timurid, Byzantine, Safavid and Ottoman miniature painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, I began to experience a powerful, direct dialog between this cross-cultural painting lineage and my own painting materials and subject matter.

Ispirata dagli studi delle tradizionali tecniche pittoriche dei manoscritti e da una passione per la storia dei pigmenti, ho iniziato a creare personalmente i miei colori; questo processo è diventato negli anni parte integrante della mia pratica pittorica. Studiando le miniature delle scuole Timuride, Bizantina, Safavide e Ottomana al Metropolitan Museum of Art di New York e al Topkapi Palace a Istanbul, ho approfondito la consapevolezza di un dialogo interculturale tra queste eredità pittoriche e la mia stessa pittura in termini di materiali e soggetti rappresentati.

CONTEMPORARY APPROACH TO HISTORICAL Color

Over the last years, my husband and I have lived and worked in Dubai, Istanbul and Rome. We now live in the medieval town of Assisi, birthplace of Saint Francis and home to several of the most important fresco cycles by proto-Renniassance painter, Giotto. A place of unique natural, spiritual and artistic beauty.

Khizr discovers the Fountain of Life. Nizami's Khamsa. Istanbul, end of the fifteenth century. Topkapi Palace Library, H. 781, fol. 279b.

 Bags of pigments at a backstreet market in Istanbul, Turkey.

Bags of pigments at a backstreet market in Istanbul, Turkey.

Here, continuing to study the historic use and trade of pigments during the Middle Ages, we have developed together this series of handmade colors, with the vision of connecting users to the origins of artistic materials. One obstacle to this goal was that many traditional pigments are notoriously toxic and unstable. After a long process of research and experimentation, we have formulated our recipes with the best lightfast and environmentally friendly pigments available today to match historical pigments like vermilion, carmine and verderame. All of our colors are mercury, lead, arsenic, cobalt and cadmium free.

Currently, there are twelve handmade colors available in half-pan size and made-to-order 8ml tubes. The Classic 12 metal travel tin and the Essential 6 kit are curated to offer the maximum mixing range in a portable size. In the studio, we are working on recipes for twelve more colors, to be included in a set of twenty-four, as well as several special edition single colors including, genuine indigo, raw sienna from Badia and unique Moroccan and Cyprian earths. Follow me on Instagram or check back here for future color releases.

Negli ultimi anni, insieme a mio marito, abbiamo lavorato a Dubai, Istanbul e Roma. Oggi viviamo ad Assisi, la cittadina nel cuore dell’Umbria che è il luogo di nascita di San Francesco e che, tra straordinarie architetture medievali, ospita alcuni tra i più importanti cicli pittorici di Giotto: un contesto unico di spiritualità, bellezze artistiche e naturali.

Qui, continuando ad approfondire lo studio della storia dei pigmenti e il loro commercio durante il Medioevo, abbiamo sviluppato una serie di colori artigianali ad acquerello.  Il nostro desiderio era quello di connettere gli artisti di oggi con la qualità dei materiali originali in maniera consapevole e sicura. Alcuni dei pigmenti antichi infatti sono notoriamente tossici o poco stabili: il vermiglio, il carminio, il verderame ed altri. Per questo motivo, dopo un lungo processo di ricerca e sperimentazione, abbiamo formulato la nostra ricetta con i migliori pigmenti oggi disponibili sul mercato cercando di rispettare le tavolozze originali, offrendo allo stesso tempo materiali stabili e sicuri. I nostri colori non contengono mercurio, piombo, cobalto o cadmio.

Attualmente offriamo dodici colori in mezzi godet e tubi da 8ml su ordinazione. Il set Classico da 12 in scatola di metallo da viaggio e il set Essenziale da sei colori, sono curati in modo da offrire la più ampia possibilità di mescolanze. Stiamo lavorando alla ricetta di altri dodici pigmenti, per comporre un set da 24, e alla formulazione di alcuni colori particolari da acquistare singolarmente: Indaco originale,  Terra di Siena Badia e alcune terre di Cipro e del Marocco. Potete seguirmi su Instagram per aggiornamenti.

 The medieval city of Assisi, Italy, where our handmade paint is made.

The medieval city of Assisi, Italy, where our handmade paint is made.

Giotto's Neighbor

Being surrounded by the vibrantly colored floor to ceiling frescoes by Giotto and other Italian masters has cultivated in me a deep sense that painting, the architecture that houses it and the viewer in space are indivisible aspects of one another. As an artist, this connection with Italian 13-16th century fresco cycles has influenced a series of site-specific painting installations. My large paintings have depicted the interplay of foreign and internal forces in the Middle East, migration to Europe, and the representation of these events in Western media.

Creating paint from pigments for installation "Iskandar" at the Jamjar Gallery in Dubai, 2017.

I primarily use a handmade paint made with an egg yolk and water binder called egg tempera in my work. While I love the intense, matte quality of egg tempera, it is difficult to preserve and can crack on paper. In developing a paint to share with others, it was more natural to create a vibrant, gum arabic and honey-based watercolor. These watercolors preserve well and can be used on-the-go in a sketchbook or on sheets of watercolor papers, making them a versatile choice for anyone who enjoys painting. After all, gum arabic based paint was the traditional medium for most cross-cultural manuscript traditions.

  "Land of Darkness (Al-Khidr)," handmade egg tempera on panel, 55 x 125 cm, 2018.

 "Land of Darkness (Al-Khidr)," handmade egg tempera on panel, 55 x 125 cm, 2018.

If you are curious about how egg tempera paint is made or want to try it at home feel free to contact me with any questions or download this instructional worksheet.

 

More art @ www.alinagallo.com