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jourUNfixe The Alchemy of Paint

with Carolin Kropff

This workshop talk is about the alchemy of paint and Spike Buklow's book and how to use pigments and binders. 

The inside Spike Buklow shares in his book The Alchemy of Paint can enliven our relationship to colour. By taking a closer look at pigments, binding agents and painting materials, by holding them in our hands and exploring their interactions, oil, colour can be experienced directly.

Oktober 19th, 5-7pm

4 spots - Registration is required.

Understanding the function of color in painting and how it interacts is one of the most important skills painters want to master. Preparing a canvas and mixing colors is an integral part of daily work in the studio, 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 pigment, binder, and the multi-layered oil painting technique is one such method of navigating the alchemy of color.

Courtesy of Marina Schmitt

Fundamentals of Painting

The origin of these craft traditions is part of the now lost ‘wisdom of the ancients’, the wisdom of Shakespeare’s Duke who, exiled in the Forest of Arden,
‘Finds tongues in trees, books in running books,
Sermons in stoned, and good in everything'.


As Spike Bucklow beautifully describes in his book The Alchemy of Paint, ART Science and Secrets from the Middle Ages pigments provide access to the deepest levels of meaning as understood by the old masters and by women painters who continue to feel connected to the masterpieces of painting history to this day. The artist's studio, then, is like an alchemist's laboratory, and in the process the materials are transformed into images as they are painted. Colours 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.

Spike Bucklow shows us how in medieval times, color had mystical significance far beyond the enjoyment of shade and hue. (Kremer Pigmente)

He 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.

The medieval idea of man

Man contains within himself as many species as exist on earth.

Jakob Böhme

Soul plus body plus spirit: Body and soul is an individual characteristic, but the spirit is universal. Each individual is a micro-cosmos. Thus heaven is reflected on earth and both reflected in man, who lives thus in the center of the universe on an earth consisting of four elements, which is orbited by seven planets. As a composite of body, soul and spirit, the individual is an integral part of the whole of creation. In this world view, material has a spiritual level.

The workshop talk is kindly supported by Kulturamt Frankfurt.

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