Oregon Desert Palette
Reference library of sixty raw earth pigment colors collected in the high desert of southeastern Oregon, from 1997 to 2010.
Media: cigar box, re-used glass vials with corks, earth pigments collected in Oregon.
Box: 10 ¾” x 7” x 1”
Testing for Color
In the field when I find an appealing color of rock, I make a test by scratching it on a harder rock or on a metal file. If it yields little or no color, I leave it behind.The site is at the summit of Steens Mountain (approximately 10,000 feet) in Oregon's high desert.
My focus is primarily on Oregon’s high desert, but I collect raw earth colors wherever I travel. This site is east of Adel, Oregon. I never collect in a national or state park, or any park for that matter.
Set of Colors
A group of colors collected during a road trip in Oregon's high desert.
Mortar & Pestle
Back in the studio I use a stone mortar & pestle to break up the rock. If it is as soft as chalk, breaking it down takes no time at all.
Transfering the roughly ground pigment onto a marble slab.
After the mortar & pestle, the pulverized rock is sifted onto a marble slab or piece of plate glass for mulling into a fine powder.
A glass muller is used to further grind the pigment into a very fine powder (not yet pictured). The grinding takes quite some time, then a small amount of water is added to mix it into a thick paste.
At this point, it is mixed with a binder to create paint. Different binders make different types of paint, such as watercolor, acrylic, oil, tempera, et cetera. The pulverized and mulled pigment can also be used as loose pastel; pastel sticks can also be made with another binder.