Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Magic of Crystals and Minerals - Painting an Aquamarine

Some years ago I  started a series about a theme that is one of my favourites: minerals. I am collecting all kinds of minerals, crystals, fossils since I have been a child and my fascination for these objects has never subsided. I love to explore caves, I love to dig up the soil myself in order to find some of those treasures which might be added to my collection. Whenever possible I came home from holidays, the suitcase or car full of treasures.
Half a lifetime ago we once came home from Elba with about 60 – 70 kg of quartz which I had found alongside a narrow road in the mountains after a heavy rain that had washed the earth away, excavating some amazing pieces which are still populating my studio – now full of dust because I cannot find the time to clean them off and photograph them – but this I should do!
Another opportunity was in Caorle, in Northern Italy, during another holiday, where I “demolished” half of the mole because it contained some awesome cairngorms. I came home with lots and lots of lovely quartz pieces.
Nearly all of my collected treasures do not have any value at all besides being just beautiful and thus meaning a lot to me. They are also an endless well of inspiration. And so it came that this series was started.
My intent for these was not a most realistic reproduction of crystal images – photos can do this much quicker – but I wanted to catch the very essence of something that nature creates in perfection. What is the essence of a crystal? Translucency? Not necessarily – there is an abundance of crystals in the metal section which are not translucent at all – bismuth (Bi) crystals f.e. which reflect all colours of the rainbow, or pyrites which glissen like gold.

I decided to start with a painting of an Aquamarine, embedded in a “natural environment”, like a landscape. Of course this is not a realistic image – aquamarines don’t grow like this but this was not my intent.
Nevertheless – the first association we have when we think of the word “crystal” is that of something translucent, clear like water. Not without reason we say “crystal clear” water. And crystals will never fail to inherit something mysterious and seductive. A fact that is deliberatly used by all those fortune tellers and others of this kind!

40" x 13"
Acrylic on Rayon

As you can see I kept the colours quite subdued, sparsely used (as in the real one) because I did not want to distract from the “waterlike” appearance. I wanted to keep this light and airy. The transparency and clarity of water that is inherent in aquamarine crystals has always fascinated me. They belong to my favourite crystals. There is also no reference for size – this could be a tiny group of crystals as well as a huge kind of obelix embedded in a landscape.
Because real aquamarines are mostly very light in colour, sometimes nearly bland (when they have not been manipulated through heat or other exposures in order to increase their value) their main impact is the reflection i.e. the crystals absorb the colours and forms of their environment. This was the subject of this work.


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