Rock Paintings

About this work:

Glacial Friction is a body of paintings created in the landscape using rocks pulverized into textural pigment. The series directly reflects—in both concept and material—the physical structure of minerals found in nature. The color of the rocks, their density, and the way they crumble are all outward expressions of their intrinsic structure. As samples of the land, the rocks become the truest part of the painting.

The past and present of the mountains (everything from Pangaea sediment to anthropocene pollution) and a sample of the bacteria from the stream bed have all worked their way into the ecosystem and so are present within the paint. These paintings are both objects and images. They are both specimens and poetic visions. If analyzed in a laboratory, these works would reveal more about the scene being depicted than my visual compositions alone could ever provide. In this way, I leave space for an acknowledgement of the objective reality of nature alongside my propensity for aesthetic expression.

Making paint is more than a philosophical construct; it is an active labor-intensive experience. I begin by collecting rocks from the site I want to paint, searching to achieve the broadest range of color. After wrapping the rock in a thick piece of canvas cloth to collect pigment dust, I crush it with a hammer. Then on a tile surface I use a palette knife to gradually fold small portions of oil into the collected pigment to make a thick paste.

There are limitations to using hand-crushed natural pigments from rocks that are not normally used for paint. Searching for the appropriate pigments is a process of trial and error. Although a nearly limitless continuum of reds, yellows, grays, and browns can be found, I am often limited by the quantity of each. The color, hardness, and particle size also vary considerably. Most importantly, the paint I make is not a homogeneous mixture and its changing physicality limits the use of the traditional paintbrush to only the application of transparent glazes. For opaque sections I use a palette knife to place the pigment. The physicality of my process allows me to experience and engage with the physical structure of the minerals I am depicting.