Oklahoma is derived from the Choctaw Indian words "okla" meaning people and "humma" meaning red. Oklahoma is my home. Tinctoria is Latin, meaning to dye or color things; this is my work.

27 January 2010

The Blues

Water, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2009

Blue is the universal color for water and sky. It is the calm and wonderous color of the three primaries. With Water as its element, Blue is in constant flow. It is represented by the circle symbolizing spirit. The throat chakra is light blue and considered part of the spiritual body. The throat is associated with creativity, communication and expression (Stein, 19). Blue is all things flexible, moving and cyclical.
Blue is elusive and mysterious. Some Blue minerals include lapis lazure, cobalt and turquoise. Cultures around the world discovered Indigo during similar times in history. It is the only botanical blue pigment used in dyeing. The indican is found in several species of plants and has been cultivated and processed for textile dyeing. The process of extracting and fermenting indigo varies with cultural tradition. More information about indigo will be presented at another time. It is an ancient blue that has great importance to the history of textiles, economics, agriculture and art.

Indigo dyed wools, 2009

descriptive words for blue:
classic, spirit, denim, turquoise, cobalt, azure, prussian blue, ink, shade, ultramarine, royal blue, baby blue, cold, contracted, introverted, free flowing, liberated, uplifting

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, Arizona, 2009

Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2009

blue inspirations:
ocean, sea, water, clouds, sky, blue eggs, ice, grape hyacinth, iris, wisteria, delphinium, larkspur, cornflowers, pansies, blueberries and forget-me-nots

blue represents:
motion, peace, magic, spirit, calm, understanding, stillness, serenity, mystery, heaven, rest, melancholy, knowledge, creativity, emotion, expression, tranquility, transcendental, depth

natural color sources:
lapis, cobalt, indigo, woad

Energyscape Series, Chicago, 2009

 Turquoise Door, 2009   

4th Ave. Anchorage, Alaska, 2009

Earth and Sky, Albuquerque, 2009

Saki Cup Collection, 2009

Wood and Sky, Taos, New Mexico, 2009

20 January 2010

Good Day Sunshine

Beech leaves, 2009

Although its Element is Earth, Yellow is our star, our sunshine. It is the brightest and the most cheerful of the three primary colors. It can be melancholy, but rarely sad. The triangle represents the color Yellow and its Thought provoking qualities. It stimulates but in another kind of way than RedYellows are derived from countless local plant resources, making it quite abundant in various regions. This wonderous color can be found in ochres and sienna earths. Arsenic trisulfide and lead chromate are also Yellow but they are extremely toxic compounds. Yellow represents the solar plexus chakra, located above the naval, which works with nutrition, energy and the rational mind. 
We are able to observe this color from the earliest Spring blooms of daffodils, crocus and winter honeysuckles, into Summer marigolds, Rudbeckias, goldenrod and many vegetables, then closing out the year in a stunning display of eye candy as the Autumn leaves begin to change. Even when our days are gloomy, this vibrant color adds bits of joy, even in unsuspecting places, hence the sayings "light at the end of the tunnel", "see the light" and "good day sunshine" from the famous Beatles song. And oh, you can't forget butter!

Snakeweed and Indigo, 2009
Lalana Wools, Gathering Flowers of the Field Workshop

Irish Eyes Rudbeckia, 2008

Honey Hive, Ponca Avenue, 2009

descriptive words for yellow:
bright, glow, light, vibrant, fresh, vital, harvest, sunshine, harmony, well being, cadmium yellow, chrome yellow

Energyscape Series, I-40 Eastbound, 2009

Collected Color Series, Cotton Sateen, 2009

yellow inspirations:
daffodils, sunflowers, lemons, turmeric, sandy beaches, sunsets, corn, yellow squash, yellow bell peppers, bananas and banana peppers, egg yolks, dandelion, osage bark, fustic, mulberry innerwood, saffron, mustard, buttenut, beeswax, honey, yellow onions, ochres, deserts, lemon tart, taxi cabs, schools buses, bumblebees, yellow cake, electricity

Chalet Garden Daffodil, 2009

Rudbeckias on The High Line, New York City, 2009

Russian Orthadox Burial, Alaska, 2009

uplifting, happy, rising spirits, joy, positive, focus, hope, courage

Energyscape Series, Daffodil, 2009

Cornell Botanical Gardens, 2009

concentration, thought, wisdom, enlightenment, truth, knowledge, mourning, nourishment, imagination

natural color sources:
goldenrod, marigold, osage orange, fustic, pomegranate rinds, weld, cosmos, almost endless  local yellow botanical sources, ochre earth

Sunset on Lake Erie, 2009

New York City Construction Debris, 2009

12 January 2010

Red Hot Baby!

Bonfire, 2008

RED has the longest wavelength on the prism. Its Element is Fire. RED is one of the three primary colors. Its shape is square which represents Matter. Its direction is East. The color is derived from iron oxides (earth), kermes (insects), alizarin (plants), vermilion (mercuric sulfide). Scarlet, crimson and carmine are classic words describing RED and they also hint to the source of the color. For example, carmine is used to indicate red from cochineal insects (family Coccidae). RED demands our attention and provokes sexual energy. It represents the Root Chakra at the base of the spine, physical energy and vitality. RED is both life threatening and life sustaining.

Red Sedona Earth, 2009

Zinnias, Ponca Garden, 2009

descriptive words for red:
brave, bold, daring, demanding, passionate, extrovert, exciting, energetic, sexy, aggresive, strong, vigorous, bordeaux, cabernet, mauve, turkey red

red inspirations:
textiles, spices, dirt, oxides, embers, sunsets, salmon, terra cotta, cedar, wine, hearth, volcanoes and lava, pomegranates, strawberries, apples, cherries, cranberries, tomatoes, chilis and berries, roses, red sage, red peonies and primroses, garnets, rubies, bloodstone, red quartz, agate

Dianthus and Bumble, 2009

provocative, energetic, active, warm, embarrassing, flushed, powerful, angry, stimulating

earth, blood, fire, love and passion, heart, evil, republican, vitality, appetite, warning, menstration, fertility and circulation, survival, safety

Amaryllis, Chalet Garden 2009

natural color sources:
madder, lac, cochineal, brazilwood, iron oxides, Thelesperma sp.

Red Lantern, Jerome, Arizona, 2009

Quick, give yourself a couple minutes....what do you think of RED?

06 January 2010

Why Natural Color?

Woolly Rocks, 2010

I love color. Color is our Prime Materia, a life force full of energy. I love that humans seek color and pattern and that it surrounds us. Color is deeply rooted in our lives. Celebrating the sources of natural colors comes from recognizing the infinite possibilities that nature offers us. There is an art to extracting color from flowers, twigs, leaves, fruits, plants, roots, rinds, shells, bark, hulls, insects, earth and minerals. Collecting, harvesting and extracting natural colors from natural materials are about people, place and plants. It requires a bit of chemistry, alchemy, botany, geology, artistry and time.

"Color is one of those great things in the world that makes life worth living to me and as I have come to think of painting it is my effort to create an equivalent with paint color for the world- life as I see it."
-Georgia O'Keeffe

02 January 2010

Collecting Color

naturally dyed cotton sateen, 2009

Ideas are everywhere: look up and down, look all
around, look inside and outside.

There is so much color to absorb, to process. How do we collect color for our work? How are we inspired by it if we are so overwhelmed by it? How do we use color to find inspiration? Creativity is the ability to imagine and innovate. It involves experimenting, gaining understanding about materials and basic principles, all the meanwhile embracing serendipity. See color as creative exploration.
  • Identify colors in your environment. Start “seeing” color in the landscapes that you are part of: what are the colors of Morning, Midday, Evening, and Night? What are the hues, intensities and values?
  • Begin to pay attention to the subconscious color choices you are making.
  • Observe memories, emotions, outside influences and possible colors associated with them. What are your reactions? Do certain colors make you respond emotionally?
  • Use a camera to document the colors you see. Sort images into groups of colors, forms or textures. Begin to assemble relationships between your images.
  • Make color collages (use home, garden, cooking, clothing magazines and catalogs). Gathering free color is helpful when experimenting with color groups and how the colors work against each other or with each other in a composition.
  • Cloth and yarn are excellent materials to collect for color, texture and pattern relationships.
  • Paint chips are free in home improvement stores and allow you to be playful with color combinations without cost.
  • Juxtapose colors collected with cultural images found in magazines or from your own travels. Begin to find your own relationships with color.
  • Observe objects, environments, landscapes. What colors are you seeing? What is reoccurring in the landscape? How does the light change?
  • Places and topics to look for, watch, research and observe: Outside: backyard, botanical gardens, city parks, Historical and Current Trends: museums, books, magazines, Color Theory: understand formal principles and ideas and your personal intuition about color, Living Philosophies: Feng Shui, other spiritual or cultural practices, Color Therapy & Psychology: personal & market expression, Decorative Elements: color trends in fashions and in homes, kitchens, bathrooms, Taste: food is very colorful and seductive, Experience: draw from personal experience and put together your own collection of colors, Cultural: traditions and symbols, Museums: local and travelling exhibits.
  • Begin a collection of objects to build Color Boxes.
  • Create your own library of references and resources. Visual libraries are very important. Be sure to document locations.
  • Gardens are spectacular sources of color, form, shape, texture, wildness. They are full of foliage, flowers, blossoms, fruit, light, shade.
  • Observe marketplace colors and trends. Are you repelled or attracted to them? Why?
  • Keep a sketchbook of inspirations, shapes, forms, colors, thoughts.
  • Discuss what you are seeing and reading with others so you are not working in a vacuum.
  • Create a Color Vocabulary List, including descriptive words, inspirations, feelings, associations and representations of each color on the color wheel.
  • Food is full of color and we interact with it everyday. What colors are you eating? What colors are you craving?
  • Follow the Seasons. See not only the changing colors but also the symbolic transformations. Seasons develop natural color, they are part of the cycle.

“Success relies on the cultivation of inspiration.”
-Jane Dunnewold

01 January 2010

Local Yellows

Autumn color in Oklahoma, 2009

peach leaf dyed wool yarns, 2009

Natural yellow dyes most often utilize local plant sources because they are abundant and accessible. Although yellow dyes are the most light fugitive of natural dyes, there are a handful of light fast botanical yellows that are beautiful to be used as pure color or as a base color for greens and oranges. Yellow variations ranging from clear yellows to golds can be found in flowers such as marigolds, coreopsis and goldenrod; in whole plant tops such as weld; in leaves from peach and pear trees; barks such as Osage orange and fustic and also the inner bark of black oak. Onion skins are perhaps the most commonly known yellow dye because they are used to color eggs for Spring celebrations. Many values and intensities of yellow can be achieved using only alum and cream of tartar for the mordant and considering the strength of the dye bath.

Prunus, peach leaves

freshly harvested peach leaves
Earth Arts, Liesel Orend's Dye Garden workshop, 2009

Prunus species include stone fruits, cultivated and wild: peach, cherry, almond, apricot and plum. Peach leaves impart a strong, bright yellow to wool with alum and cream of tartar. They are best harvested in late spring into early fall, but pay attention to the cycle of fruit harvest. Pick leaves sparingly from each tree so that the fruit trees can continue to gather energy for next years fruit crop through its leaves. Fresh prunings are an ideal source for leaves.

The leaves are to be gathered fresh and used immediately. If the leaves must be harvested the day before dyeing then cover the fresh leaves in cold water to help preserve them (Luisa Gelenter, LaLana Wools 2009). A general rule when gathering fresh material to dye with is to gather twice the amount of plant material to the weight of the material to be dyed, 2 parts fresh plant material : 1 part fiber.

Bring peach leaves to a boil and hold at a simmer for 1-2 hours. Extract leaves from dye bath and compost spent peach leaves. Proceed with the dye bath according to the type of fiber being dyed.

peach leaves being extracted from dyepot
Lalana Wools, Gathering Flowers of the Field Workshop, 2009

handspun wool yarns, peach leaves, 2009

Keep records of your experiments, including such information as when and where the leaves were collected, what material you dyed and the mordanting process.

Los Colores...in Taos!

Heather harvesting Chamisa in Taos.
photo courtesy Evergreen Knits, 2009

Turkey Red Journal in a free online publication dedicated to natural dyes. Pamela Feldman, natural color maker and weaver, is the designer and editor. TRJ is an excellent resource for artists using natural dyes. My article, Los Colores...in Taos! is included in the Autumn 2009 TRJ issue:

Winter Color

Energyscape Snow, 2010

It is unusual for Oklahoma to have a blanket of melting snow on New Year's Day.

"The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination."
-Ward Elliot Hour