Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ochre de Rue


Last week my daughter Phoebe was in Seattle and while there she stopped by the art store to pick up some art supplies for her iconographer father. I gave her a list of materials unobtainable here in Juneau -- paper and paint, mostly. Although I paint mostly in egg tempera, using dry pigments (see open jar above). Earth colors, mostly yellow and red ochers make up most of the traditional palette for iconpainting, so I'm always on the lookout for earth colors in acrylic. Which is why I was happy to learn that Sennelier, the French colormen, were now manufacturing acrylic paints which include a variety of ochers and other earth colors. The catalog listed the names of the colors in English and simply out of curiousity, I added a color I'd never heard of, brown ocher to the list. And it turned out to be ochre de rue!

I'm probably the only person I know who would get excited about colored dirt but I was overjoyed when I looked at the label and, just above the staid "brown ocher" the words, 'ochre de rue'. That particular pigment and I go back a long way, to my first trip to Paris in 1992 to study with Fr.Egon Sendler at the Centre d'Etudes Russes. At the Centre, ochre de rue (literally 'ocher of the street') is used to finish the outer borders of icons. The pigment is mixed with linseed oil and wiped onto the plaster gesso, to create a beautifully transparent greenish-yellow glaze.


1 comment:

  1. Yes, I remember that pigment when you taught me how to finish off my Elijah icon with it. How neat that they now have it in acrylic! I can understand your excitement.