Friday, 11 February 2011

Vandyke Brown

Give me some mud off a city crossing, some ochre out of a gravel pit  and a little whitening and some coal dust and I will paint you a luminous picture if you give me time to gradate my mud and subdue my dust.
John Ruskin 

Today's brown is mud brown. Vandyke brown: a transparent brown natural earth containing usually over 90% of organic matter. It comes from soil and peat and was used by the old masters since the 17th century. Rubens in particular mixed it with gold ochre as a warm, transparent brown - the wonderful Pigments through the Ages in the WebExhibits online museum informs. Vandyke brown was also known as Cassel earth or Cologne earth. Mud brown. I can taste the earth.

ZIG Art & Graphic Twin made by Japanese Kuretake carries water-based blendable ink that comes out of its flexible brush like a dream producing excellent hues and gradations of colour. Even the common brown has a special quality to it - dull and dreary it ain't. And then there is mahogany, dark beige, burnt sienna, bistre, fawn, dark sand, warm sepia and there is Vandyke brown. I feel like a mud bath tonight.

More pens in shades of brown in Art Brown Pens by Faber-Castell and Zig

1 comment:

  1. I just discovered your blog and I'm gonna link it from mine.

    I've been fascinated with brown inks and I'm on a side quest to discover the perfect brown ink. My main brown is Noodler's Polar Brown which has a very nice, dark shade, but unfortunately is very smudge-prone even after it dries up well. And that's despite the fact that it is waterproof. Oh well... the search continues.