Thursday, March 15, 2012

Drawing Materials - Ancient Stuff

Recent studies of 2011, have dated drawings and paintings in caves of southern France as having been made from 30,000 to 33,000 years ago.  Many of the drawing are in charcoal.  Some of the drawings have been rubbed with colored earth pigments.

Charcoal is wood that has not been completely burned in the fire pit.  It could also be made by heating wood to a high temperature in a vessel without oxygen.  This would drive off the moisture and combustible gases.  It is done in a similar manner today.  In addition to charcoal, black was also obtained from black carbonaceous shale.

The colored earths are inorganic compounds found freely on the earth's surface.  Some are  calcium carbonate, lime stone or chalk, for white pigment.  Another easily available earth color is ochre which is hematite, an iron ore, colored in yellowish, reddish, and brownish tones depending upon the chemical variations of the iron oxides.  The reddish shade was commonly called "sanguine" (blood in French) and was used by the masters.  The color name is still in common use today as a Conte Crayon color. 

Leonardo da Vinci - self-portrait in sanguine

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