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September 2013



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Life falls into place so beautifully...

...sometimes, anyway.

Close to 20 years ago, I got interested in reenacting as a hobby, and in combining what I do, what I AM, with what I wanted to demonstrate, at events. It's what I know the most about, what I'm most comfortable doing, what I can do, quietly, that doesn't really require being "on"--people enjoy watching me work, but often they don't expect me to pontificate. This is a GOOD thing, because I'm not a pontificator!

I'm an artist--had you guessed? So my main interest has been the artists of our past, as well as those of today...so much so that the first book I published for my little company was called Living History, Drawing on the Past, which included historic artists' supplies, materials, watercolor boxes, and an appendix that covered pigments available historically, from cave artists through much of the 19th Century.

You can see it here: http://www.amazon.com/Living-History-Drawing-Cathy-Johnson/dp/0963815822/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207267340&sr=8-1
Or here:
http://www.cathyjohnson.info/bookpages/history.html --it's been in print continuously since 1994 and is in its 6th printing.

Recently, Watercolor Artist magazine--formerly Watercolor Magic, where I was a contributing editor almost since their first issue--asked if I'd be interested in testing and reviewing pigments from Natural Pigments, http://naturalpigments.com/ --their new Cozens Travel Palette. Oh my, WOULD !? Given my history and my past interest, I couldn't say yes fast enough!

So this week has been taken up largely with doing pigment tests of various kinds, as well as getting out and PAINTING, using these historic pigments. This sketch was done while putting a fortune in gasoline in my Jeep, but I did 4 or 5 others that will go with the article, along with the various pigment tests...

The research for the article has been fascinating. George O'Hanlon, the technical director for Natural Pigments, filled me in on a great deal that the company has been doing, as well as putting me in touch with the gentleman at the National Gallery in Washington DC who is working to collect artists' pigments and supplies, and the president of the Paintbox Society in England. Wheels withing wheels...

Can't wait to learn more...I'm as happy as a cat in the creamery!

And they PAY me for this??? Life is good.


That sounds like neat stuff!
It is, it's fascinating! The Indian Red separates and makes lovely textures, but also a kind of red and dark-iron granulation...


How beautiful!

Wow, Cathy, (Kate? - I'm never exactly sure how to address you!) I just love this! These colors are neat and the way you handled them is so juicy. I know you're enjoying this. Thanks for sharing with us. I'll have to look for the issue when it comes out!

Leslie in Alabama

Re: How beautiful!

Leslie, you're welcome to call me Kate, all my friends do! (Well, except my really old ones...) I use Cathy professionally, because it's too much trouble to switch!

And thank you for the kind words, I'm really enjoying playing with these mineral colors. I've checked their website and I want MORE!

I'm not sure which issue it will be, I'll have to ask my editor.
so, my able and informed friend--how do they seem to shape up against daniel smith's?? i have some of theirs, but have not had the opportunity to play with them as yet.

tell me, tell me, do!!!
I'll have to hold my comments until I get the new DS Primateks I'm expecting! I bought them early on, and really wasn't all that impressed with them, but I kept hearing people say how much they loved them. One of my student buddies said their tech people told her they'd changed the formula, so I called and asked! Yep, supposed to be lots easier to lift a wash with, so I'll be trying them again.

I liked some colors, but was disappointed in others...and with these, the Vivianite was difficult to lift, too. Must be part and parcel of Vivianite!

Life's one big experiment, isn't it? *GG*
These old pigments really seem to have a character just unmatched by modern ones, which can easily look too garish if one is not careful.

Incidentally, I have run into George O'Hanlon on the web before: he is a member of the Goodart Yahoo group. He really knows his stuff! He was also kind enough to correct me on a few points on one of my own blog posts, which you can see here:


I'll keep an eye out for your book. When it comes to art history, I am far more interested in the materials and techniques of the old masters than in the endless speculation about the 'deeper meaning' of the works, which is what one finds in most art history books.

I recently bought a book titled 'Traditional Oil Painting,' by another Goodart member, Virgil Elliott, and it turned out to be one of the most fascinating reads I have ever enjoyed, even though I have never worked in oil. Gave me a whole new insight into the great works from the past. Go look it up at Amazon or at Virgil's website at http://www.virgilelliott.com/

Highly recommended!

Hi Brian! I had this answered and then discovered LJ didn't recognize me today! By the time I changed my password, I'd lost the post...

George DOES know his stuff, doesn't he? Researching this article's been a real pleasure, in many ways. I'd forgotten his heads up on your bistre/lamp black post...

And yes, I love to know what "they" used, and how, and get in there and roll my sleeves up to try it myself. Much art criticism is simply opinion or speculation, which doesn't always interest me as much...

The book does sound interesting, thank you!


This is wonderful!!! I am so eager to see what you're going to do with these paints!!When will the article appear, do you know? And will you be able to share the tests with us here, or must we wait until the article is published?
This is absolutely SO up your alley!
I need to ask my editor what issue it's in, Miss Laura!

I expect they'd prefer I waited to share the tests, though I put a couple of the little paintings in my Flickr album, the one in this post, and this one: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25146557@N00/2372512356/

I'd love to know how they compare to Primateks, but I can't find my original stash of those in the same colors--and I understand they've changed their formula, anyway...

It IS right up my alley! I love testing paints and artist tools...I think they may send me more to play with, down the line a bit.

Thanks, sweetie!

Edited at 2008-04-04 01:49 pm (UTC)
that's so exciting! those colors are lovely and strong.
Thank you! They've got a whole different atmosphere, too...


Beautiful! They couldn't have chosen a better person to review these paints, either!
Thank you! It was serendipitous, wasn't it!