Natural mineral paints: red ocher

Natural mineral paints: red ocher

Now for artists there is no problem to findsuitable shade of red. Most modern paints are synthetic, invented in the technical era (after the eighteenth century). And how did the ancient artists? How many color shades were in their palette? The famous painter Titian said that it is enough for a real artist to have three colors: white, black and red. The rest of the gamut of shades is achieved by mixing these primary colors. As you can see, without red it was impossible to do without Titian himself. What did the ancient painters use to depict the purple, pink, scarlet, burgundy? Natural dyes, having the color of blood, and in the ancient era was quite a lot. But the most ancient of them is the red ocher. What kind of mineral is it and how is a persistent pigment extracted from it, read in this article.

Red ocher

What is ocher

The very name of this mineral is Greek. But this does not mean that the ocher was invented or first used in the Ancient Hellas. No, mineral paint is found even in the most ancient rock carvings. Ocher, as they say, was under people's feet, and for its use as a dye, there was no need for any technology. Picked up a pebble and paint. This natural mineral consists of iron oxide hydrate. And the Greek word "ohros" means pale yellow.

How so? And where does the ocher come from? The color of the natural mineral is really yellow. Depending on the clay, which is naturally mixed with iron hydroxide hydrate, it varies from light beige to brownish. Yellow ocher is found in abundance in any part of the world. Therefore, it was the first paint used by ancient Paleolithic artists.

Ocher red color

What is the red ocher

The color of blood and life has always been attractive toof people. Artists wanted to portray a wounded beast, in order to ensure a happy outcome of hunting by sympathetic magic. But where can I get the mineral of the right color? Anhydrous iron oxide is found in areas with active volcanic activity. Unlike the yellow hydrate, when mixed with clay, it gives a warm shade of red.

The technology of obtaining the dye, as we see,is pretty simple. In places where there are no volcanic rocks, it's enough just to burn yellow ocher. The water from the mineral evaporates, and it changes color to red. Simple and inexpensive technology has led to the fact that red ocher is still widely used for the production of oil, glue and other paints, as well as in the manufacture of printed chintz. It should be mentioned and harmlessness of the mineral. In comparison with the sura and cinnabar, also giving a red color, ocher does not cause any harm to the human body. Members of the Himba tribe living in Namibia, cover this mineral with hair and the whole body. Ocher, therefore, protects them from sunburn and overheating.

As in ancient Egypt received a red ocher

As in ancient Egypt received a red ocher

It must be said that "color" and "essence" in thiscivilizations were designated by one hieroglyph. The Egyptians sought a deep, rich shade to exalt the gods. Ocher gives warm, inexpressive tones. In search of saturation and color depth, the Egyptians became the first discoverers of the first synthetic dye. True, it had a blue color. Pigment was invented in the third millennium BC. First, glass was blown from the sand with a copper admixture. Then it was carefully ground into a powder.

The Egyptians also aged to get a bright shadered. And such a dye became a cinnabar. The mineral was triturated and thoroughly washed. But ocher (yellow and red) was not forgotten. It was used to give the image natural shades. The red color for the Egyptians was of two kinds. On the one hand, it symbolized the blood of Osiris. Ocher and cinnabar covered the clothes of the Mother of the World, Isis. But depicted in red and dangerous demons and threatens all living serpent Apophis. But in the ancient kingdom of the body of men was made to paint burnt ocher. This symbolized their vitality.

The dark red ocher

Shades of ocher

This pigment is still widely usedthanks to the richness of the palette. After all, you can experiment with the degree of heating of yellow ocher, getting orange tones. The main admixture to anhydrous iron oxide - clay - also brings its contribution to the final color. Because of it can be a dark red ocher or light, almost pink. Between them there are many more shades. The brightest ocher is Venetian red. This is a warm tone. Despite the fact that red by definition can not be cold, it protects this shade. It is very dark, almost brown. This color is called Indian or English ocher.

In search of red

We have already mentioned cinnabar. This very powerful, bright and deep paint. Red ocher in comparison with her looks pretty dim. Cinnabar was obtained from processed iron ore. But a bright red color is not always appropriate in painting.

Another rival of ocher was the marmot. It's lead oxide. Surik gave a rich red color, but it is dangerous to health. No less harmful is the vermilion. This paint was invented in China three thousand years ago. It was made by heating sulfur and mercury.

But the most expensive red was the Tyrianpurple. It was extracted from two types of mollusks. One snail gave only two grams of dye. Therefore, the clothes of the emperor of the Roman Empire were covered with the Tyrian purple, and the senators had the right to only one strip of paint on the toga.

Paint red ocher

Use of mineral pigment in painting

If we believe Pliny, in the ancient world the mainthe place from which the red ocher was supplied was Pontus Yuxinus in Sinope. Although iron oxide and loses cinnabar in the depth and brightness of color, it has one feature. Pigment is perfectly mixed with various other dyes, thus forming a huge range of color shades. Ocher absorbs oil and is very opaque. Artists in the Middle Ages and later used it when writing frescoes. It was used when writing oil paintings and drawings. Icon painter Dionysius widely used ocher of different shades in his painting.

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