In the previous blog, I talked about how copper cause a glaze to be female, while Iron caused a glaze to be male. Now I want to talk about how Lead aesthetically changes a glaze.

Lead, linked to the planet Saturn by alchemy and with the glyph ♄, inherits the planets attributes in astrology.

The god that Saturn is named after was the god of Time. The Greeks called the god “Chronus” which is where we get words like “chronograph”- aka a timer that counts forwards. Greeks and Romans worshiped this god primarily for good harvests, which is why Saturn is portrayed with a sickle or scythe. Time allows things to grow, but likewise, it brings death as well, which is why astrologically the planet relates to death.

I believe that as a result, this why the grim reaper carries a scythe.

Looking back at lead, which has the power to change things dramatically,

Lead = Saturn = ♄ = Death.

So aesthetically, within a glaze, poisonous lead is linked with death.


Iron and Copper

Alchemists of old believed in a link between element and the seven “planets” of the sky and gave both the planets and their corresponding elements glyphs.

☉ = our Sun, Solar = Gold (this was when they believed earth was at the center of the universe)

☽ = our moon, Luna = Silver

☿ = Mercury = Mercury (that’s why this element is called Mercury)

♀ = Venus = Copper

♂ = Mars = Iron

♃ = Jupiter = Tin

♄ = Saturn = Lead

In later times, ♂ and ♀ later began to symbolize the male and female genders as well. Then again, Mars, the war god was like the epiphany of the masculine and Venus, the goddess of love, the epiphany of the feminine. Also recall the saying “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”.

Still I came to a realization this quarter that by adding copper and iron to glazes, aesthetically I was engendering them:

feminine = ♀ = Venus = Copper, therefore Copper was feminine by association!

masculine = ♂ = Mars = Iron, therefore iron was masculine by association!

It seems strange, but with this logic, a male glaze contains iron and a female glaze contains copper.

While working with these colorants within glazes I noticed that no other colorants behave quite the same way, and yet they behave so much alike. They both produce bright vivid colors under reduction firing while the other colors dull or remain basically unaffected.

Their similar behavior, and aesthetic / psychological links seem to coincide to set them apart from the rest of the group of elements.

Alternate To Click


Jim didn’t write this—instead, I found it over on PostSecret.com. Still, I thought it was worth putting on here.


Jim and I recently watched a George Carlin stand-up special on DVD. It was Carlin’s HBO special Doin’ It Again from 1990 (the year definitely showed, given all the mullets and Jeff Foxworthy mustaches seen in the audience). During the special, Carlin uses several pejoratives to demonstrate a concept that so-called “dirty” words are nothing more than just phonetic sounds spoken by Man; what makes words “evil” is not the word itself, but the person who is speaking the word and the context behind it. The graphic below simplifies Carlin’s philosophy:

Carlin’s “Words are just words” philosophy can also hold true in art. When you look at a work of art, you’re looking at an artist’s context. There’s idea, thought and meaning put into the work, and it’s up to us as the audience to do one of two things: decipher the original artistic meaning behind the piece, or develop an entirely different one completely personal and from within based on our own ideas, thoughts and meanings.

Language and art aren’t so different when you think about it.

Acrylics part 1: Making gluttony

Finally something new, I’m getting the ball rolling here!

So whenever I start a painting, I have to think about it. When I got this idea, I found myself in this position:


 Ok so I have an idea now, thanks to the extra blood in my head. Don’t ask me why or how I ended up in this position either, I just did.

Now I have a canvas I pre-prepped with gesso. Here’s me next to it, showing you the size. Yea I’m out of focus, but I’m not pretty and you’re not missing much.

 Next, I draw out what I’m going to paint on the canvas. I don’t need detail, I just want shapes so I can get my proportions correct.  I guess this is where all the art teachers turn to their pupils and go “See? what did I tell you!” and the students go “aww fine I’ll do it alerady! sheesh!” Believe me as much as I want to start glopping it on, I need to get this done first.

My first layer of colored paint is actually gesso mixed with cadmium red, an inorganic pigment derived from cadmium oxide.  I make two colors- one for the background and one for the main subject only differing from the background by about half as much cadmium.

Cadmium oxide is a toxic substance. Don’t allow the water you rinse it with to land on anything you eat off of, and if it does, run it through the dishwasher before eating off of it.

For the second layer, I mix two organic pigments together: Quinaicndrone Red and Hansa Yellow. These pigments are comprised of complex carbon-based molecules. The red pigment Gamma Quinacindrone tends to mix more brightly with other paints than cadmium, and also tends to run more transparent than cadmium. The same goes for the yellow pigment, yellow arylide, found in hansa yellow. I also mix thalo (or pthalo) blue, an organic pigment containing copper phthalosyenide with a little bit of red to form a very indigo pigment. I wind up with a caution-cone orange and a dark purple. These semi-complimentary pigments mix to form a very pretty and dull green. I make a smooth gradient on the canvas with these two pigments, and then its on to the next step:

Why do I Like High Contrast?

Indiana- Left California- Right

    For your examination, here are two pictures. The one on the left is a picture of a forest in Indiana, and the one on the right is a picture of a forest in California. I wanted to compare both of them to show you how watered down the colors of my birth land is. I lived in Indiana for about 9 years and then moved to California, returning every summer and winter for a time to visit my father. The visits were not enjoyable to me, first of all, because my father and I don’t get along, but also because of the difference in color.

I believe that this affected me psychologically, giving me a natural craving for vivid colors and high contrast within my artwork. I was psychologically jaded to those colors while growing up, and now I find pleasure in creating realities on a canvas or on a piece of paper with very high contrast or color.

There’s a saying I heard from one of my art professors that I liked. It went: “The difference between being an art student or an amateur and a genuine, full fledged artist is that the former creates works from what s/he sees, while the latter creates works for what s/he wants to see.”

This is of course just an opinion, as the definition of a professional artist is the sort of thing to have a small philosophical debate about, however, in this case, I agree with it. Nor am I trying to glorify myself, I have yet to achieve 100% independence from creating things from what I see, but so far I feel I’ve already made at least some of that journey.