Today’s episode is an incredibly inspiring one! Join in on my conversation with two artists making paints and dyes from natural, earth-friendly materials and sustainable processes. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, wondered about these materials we use? Where do they come from? How are they made and what damage are they doing to the earth? You will be encouraged and inspired by the art making practices of Danila Rumold and Amanda Brazier in this episode!
Danila and Amanda are both fairly recent in their change to using natural materials. In childhood Danila and Amanda recall drawing a lot. Danila remembers drawing and filling up sketchbooks in what she calls her first studio in her basement in Illinois. Amanda remembers an art inspiration moment when a great aunt gave her an art kit when she was in elementary school. Though they both took more traditional art paths in school (both concentrated on painting), they both reached a point where they felt like their art practice needed a change. Amanda felt stuck and overwhelmed by too many colors and endless color combinations, and Danila, when her children were very young, decided to move away from oil painting when her new studio did not have ventilation or a sink so she started experimenting with safe, natural, and sustainable materials.
Though both Danila and Amanda use natural and environmental materials, they use them in very different ways. Danila uses dyes from various plants to create dyes – dyes that overlap and stain her various surfaces like cotton or kozo papers – and Amanda uses soils and rocks to create pigments that she grinds together with a binder to make paints. They both agree that motherhood influenced their decision to make their art practices more sustainable. They both are active environmentalists and interested in educating others about sustainability in life and art. While they both discuss the lengthy processes that each must go through to make her work – Danila’s dye baths soaking for days at a time and Amanda’s gathering of soil and rocks taking hours – they both reveal that these processes work so well integrated into family life. Danila can leave her materials soaking in dyes for hours or days and take them out whenever she has extra time, and Amanda likes to take her two young boys with her to gather materials – which they love!
When both started out in this journey of using natural materials in their art practice, they both admit there was a learning curve, but the slowing down process of gathering has made them both feel closer to the earth. From challenges like dealing with the weak lightfastness of certain dyes, which Danila talks about, to the ratio of what soils and ground-up rocks mix with certain binders, which Amanda discusses, both agree that play is still very important in creating their work. Through playful experimentation and committing to the slowing down of their art practices, Danila and Amanda have created a more sustainable way to not only make art, but also to live their own lives.
Biggest Art Crush:
Danila – Eva Hesse
Amanda – Anni Albers
Danila – Japan, Oaxaca (Mexico), Uruguay
Amanda – Costa Rica, or backpacking on Appalachian Trail
Film or Book:
Danila – Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
Amanda – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Both – Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Danila – Sushi date night with husband
Amanda – Vegan white potato white bean soup, or salmon with risotto
Danila – her parents
Amanda – husband and sons and Sandy Webster
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn
Resources for your natural materials journey, shared with us by Amanda and Danila!
Collecting/Processing Earth Pigments
Earthen Pigments: Hand-Gathering & Using Natural Colors in Art, Sandy Webster
The Organic Artist, Nick Neddo
Colors from the Earth, Anne Wall Thomas (out of print, but a great resource if you can find it)
A Geology of Color, Lauren Sauder
Field To Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene (edited by Alexandra Toland, Jay Stratton Noller, and Gerd Wessolek).
History of Pigments
Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Color, David Coles
Color: A Natural History of the Palette, Victoria Finlay
The Craftsman’s Handbook, Cennino Cennini
Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics (Vols. 1-4), National Gallery of Art
Ochre Archives (http://earlyfutures.com/ochrearchive/)
– Instagram = @heidilynnheidilynn
Wild Pigment Project (https://wildpigmentproject.org/)
Instagram = @wildpigmentproject
Native Paint Revealed (http://www.nativepaintrevealed.com/)
Instagram = @nativepaintrevealed
Pigments Through the Ages (http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/)
Natural Pigments (www.naturalpigments.com)
Artists’ Pigments: A Handbook of Their History and Characteristics, National Gallery of Art
Volumes 1-3 available as PDFs for free: https://www.nga.gov/research/publications/pdf-library.html
Volume 4 available for purchase from National Gallery of Art’s website
Yusuke Asai makes huge, beautiful murals
Richard Long‘s mud circles