Mineral Monochromes

These paintings were born from a long time love of the watercolor Beatrice Addressing Dante from the Car by William Blake, and an interest in how Blake used color in that painting. The paintings start from an idea found in Blake’s, it’s perhaps more of a classical notion, that an image involving each color in the spectrum in equal measure creates a feeling of harmony. This counter intuitive idea of including it all to create a space of harmony becomes one of the challenges to execute in each painting. Even the word monochrome holds a kind of idea of oneness, a place where things come together. 

Soft colors hang like puffs of smoke within the white field of the surface.
While some surfaces are places where colors mix with each other, others are about the effect of a single color. The watercolors used are hand-mixed from ground up minerals, semi precious stones, and earth pigments, just as they were made historically before the invention of synthetic paints. While these pigments bring vibrant and pure colors to the paintings, they also hold the energetic properties of the natural world and the locations in which they are found.

The paintings that are mounted with overhanging paper cut slightly unevenly interrupt the notion that this atmospheric space is infinite, allowing them to be imperfect rectangles with defined edges, creating a tension between space and object, painting and sculpture.

These paintings call into question how a monochrome can be representational, as each painting is the depiction of the very material it is made out of, they are literally made not of paint, but more specifically of azurite, lapis, agate. They are often hung in pairs, or sets, and sometimes with highly detailed renderings in watercolor or graphite. These intensely detailed paintings and drawings are partly about figuring out complex images through the many hours it takes to paint them. It’s a world in which time equals proximity. But when examined the tiny marks that make up bedsheets, rock formations, individual hairs of a fur coat all fall apart into abstraction. The paintings are not an attempt of likeness, but rather of understanding. While the dichotomy of this paring calls into question what it is that is being depicted and what is not depicted at all, both have an interest in what a painting can hold: pigment, messages, opposites.

Minerals used: azurite, agate, chrysocholla, epidote, green agate, jade, lapis, malachite, turquoise / pink earth, madder lake, obsidian, ocher, earth from Abiquiu, New Mexico

For inquiries or to purchase please email laurenspencerking@gmail.com