Thursday, February 15, 2007

New Art - Ancient Technique

Most people have heard of cave paintings that have lasted thousands of years. For instance Spain’s Altamira Grotto, or the Dunhuang Grottos of China. In the 1990s there arose an interest in recreating this rock painting process as a means of a modern technique based on this most ancient of all art mediums. After all those pictures are still almost as bright and dazzling as they were a thousand years ago.

Artist Aya Fu of Beijing, China is one such artist interested in painting with rock color. Fu grinds the rock into a powder and arranges it by degree of color. Another color is made from ground ceramics and glass. The ground shell of the oyster makes the white color which is the base for the paint with the other colors added to it. Fu also mixes in a kind of glue made from peaches.

But then the artist must have a paper that can support the thick granule material. Starting with two sheets of cotton paper affixed on a panel, Fu brushes a mixed liquid made of peach and alum. Then the paper is processed so it doesn’t absorb water.

The next step is to brush on the white base made up of the oyster shell. Then the color is applied. Each step must dry before Fu can proceed with the next step. “The character of the rock color painting is gorgeous and rich,” says Fu.

(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved

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