of Paint

Colour is deliverd by things in the world, but what it can deliver is an enriching experience that goes beyond the world of things.

jourUNfixe The Alchemy of Paint

with Carolin Kropff

This workshop talk is dedicated to colours and our relationship to it.
It looks at Sike Buklow's book The Alchemy of Paint , Art, Science and Secrets from the Middle Ages
- and pigments and lays our hands-on binders and painting materials.

The book serves as a source to re-establish a reviving relationship with the qualities of paint; the pigments allow us to engage directly.

The background and ideas that Buklows so wonderfully summarizes can enliven our view and approach to colour. By taking a closer look at pigments, binding agents and painting materials, by holding them in our hands and exploring their interactions, especially in the build-up of a multi-layered oil painting, colour can be experienced directly.


Coming soon.

4 spots - Registration is required.

FunFundamentals of Painting


After an introduction to the subject and mutual exchange about it, I introduce different pigments and explain the difference between binder and painting medium and how to make paints yourself. We will test water-soluble paints, tempera paints and oil paints and learn more about the practical rule: fat on lean and why semi-transparent glazes on a lighter ground will have a cooler hue and warmer on a darker ground without having to add appropriate pigments to the paint.

Some background:

Understanding the colour in painting and its interaction is one of the essential questions that concern painters and the handling they want to master. Preparing a canvas and mixing colours is an integral part of the daily work in the studio, a work in which craftsmanship transforms raw materials into useful tools. The magic begins with preparing the canvas, mixing dyes and pigments, and applying the first layers of paint. Working with the raw materials, the pigment, the binder, and the multi-layered construction of paint layers is one such method of navigating the alchemy of colour.

Colors had a clear meaning in the medieval times. This meaning reflected the medieval worldview of microcosm and macrocosm. Today, our worldview also reflects our relationship to color. Bucklow writes: The color has been appropriated. Today, a telecommunications company has appropriated the color orange, and the combination of red and white is associated with a fizzy drink. But neither does orange have anything to do with telecommunications, nor do soft drinks inherently have anything to do with red and white.

Alchemy included astrology, medicine, philosophy, and mysticism. For example, vermilion is considered a symbol of alchemy itself: two elements, sulfur and mercury, are mixed and heated until a chemical reaction occurs that, when ground into powder, produces a deep red.

The medieval world view:
Soul and body and mind belong together. Body and soul are individual characteristics, but the spirit is universal. Each individual is a miniature universe; Man is connected to the earth as the earth is connected to the sky. Thus, heaven was reflected on earth and both were reflected in man, who lives in the centre of the universe on earth, composed of four elements, orbited by seven planets. In this worldview, the material has a spiritual level. For example, God was thanked when alum was found in Tofa in 1460, and time was measured by chanting the Our Father or the Hail Mary when making varnish pigments.

Das Buch:

The Alchemy of Paint by Spike Bucklow

Erhältlich bei Kremer Pigmente:

The Alchemy of Paint is a critique of the modern world, which Spike Bucklow sees as the product of seventeenth-century ideas about science. In modern times, we have divorced color from its origins, using it for commercial advantage. Spike Bucklow shows us how in medieval times, color had mystical significance far beyond the enjoyment of shade and hue. Each chapter demonstrates the mindset of medieval Europe and is devoted to just one color, acknowledging its connections with life in the pre-modern world. Colors examined and explained in detail include a midnight blue called ultramarine, an opaque red called vermilion, a multitude of colors made from metals, a transparent red called dragons blood, and, finally, gold. The book looks at how color was “read” in the Middle Ages and returns to materials to look at the hidden meaning of the artists version of the philosopher´s stone. The penultimate chapter considers why everyone has always loved gold. Spike Bucklow is an art conservator, at the Hamilton Kerr Institute in Cambridge where he restores mediaeval art. He is an expert in craquelure, fixing the cracks in oil paintings.

All materials will be provided for a cost of 7 euros.

The workshop talk is kindly supported by Kulturamt Frankfurt.