From Soil to Pigment

I learnt from my classmates about how to make your own pigment, from soil, carbon, ceramics, or rocks.

-Prepare soil(maybe in various colours), ceramics, carbon

-Crush them into powder and filter, repeat the process

-By burning the powder, colour will turn into a darker tone.

35(2) 35(3) 35(4) 35(5)


Japanese Paper Making Exhibition

The exhibition piece was inspired by a rock I saw in the forest behind school. The pattern and texture of the rock is very similar to the carbon paper sample I made, so I decided to use carbon paper as the material to imitate the rock as my final piece.

I collected some leaves to fill the ball shape paper that I made, with a whole enabling leaves pouring out of the ball onto the gallery floor.



The piece looks totally different in nature, since paper comes from nature, it makes sense to ‘return’ it back.


Other works from the exhibition

Japanese Painting Lesson


In Japanese painting, artists use pigments from nature, washi(Japanese paper) and haku(gold or silver leaf) along with other materials and techniques. The main idea is usually about the exploration of spirit found in nature, but modern scenes can also be found.

1.First lesson, stretch the paper on board, use watercolour or gouache to paint (Oil painting is no good because of the thickness)

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2.Second week, use washi to soften or strengthen the image, with only paints, the whole body could be too bright and lacks depth, using other materials to support the balance of the image seems to be important in Japanese painting.

Use of Washi: the washi that we used is named ‘Tengucho-shi’, cow skin glue were used to apply them on the images

Use of Haku: it was my first time to use golden and silver leaves, fragile things; but it has a quality to brighten the whole image

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3. Third Lesson, using Sulfur to create images. I’ve never relate Sulfur(with fungicide) with art practice, but it actually creates amazing effect on images. Sulfur can only react on haku(probably other metal as well) under 80 degrees temp, the reaction of time decides the colour that haku is going to be in the end

1-2 seconds →red / 2-4 seconds →blue/ >5 seconds→black or grey




4. Fourth lesson, the finishing work. take the masking tape off, as well as adding lines to enrich the image.

The final images.


After making the four images, we were asked to do a collage out of them. The collage has to contain an element from Choju Giga(The earliest comic in Japanese history).It’s a task more difficult than I thought, in terms of balancing the colours and composition, which is deeply referring to Japanese traditional aesthetics. The whole process took three lessons to complete.


The third part was to transfer our collage into a real Japanese painting. We learnt about pigments in this lesson, the traditional pigments are made from natural stones like Malachite(green), Lapis Lazuli(ultramarine) or Orpiment(yellow)

Although in modern Japanese painting, because of the high price, artificial pigments are widely used. In Japanese painting, the white colour has to be painted first, silver leaves are used underneath the white to make it shine. The white pigment comes from powdered calcium carbonate.

The painting hasn’t been finished yet due to the difference of exchange term time.


      Explore and paint!


      I was surprised to find that the system of things here is quite similar to Chelsea’s, with no project or brief for the third year. Tutors are in school three days a week, crit is held every month, we have to manage our own time to do projects.

      As new concepts hasn’t come to me yet, I decided to go around the forest behind school to get some inspirations. In UK, I usually get inspiration from my old work or from other artists’ concepts; but here, the ideas comes from the view I see, with less thoughts about the content behind it, comparing to the past, the work that I’m going to make is more straight forward and simple, probably more about the vision than content.

      I haven’t done a ‘proper painting’ since the university, as what I focused is the conceptual side of a work; picking up the painting brush again became difficult for me, I would hesitate how to make a straight line or how to use colours technically. But these difficulties are great leisure, doing a good painting  is never an easy thing since there is no standard for the word ‘good’. I kept questioning myself ‘ is this going to be a good painting? Does it have to be good?’ during the process of painting, self-judgement and finding an answer for myself is the aim of make these paintings, what I lack now is what I’m going to reinforce in the future. Thus, these paintings are not about the subject or colour, but my exploration and question of ‘what to paint’.

      About Seika and Kyoto

      Kyoto was formerly the imperial capital of Japan over 1000 years, now it’s still the centre of Japanese culture. With over 2000 temples and shrines from ancient times,traditional craftmanship are also preserved very well.

      What interests me the most on the first week of arrival is the Kyoto city itself, the planning of the city is almost the same as it was thousand years ago, in the city centre, the streets are all in vertical(North to South) or horizontal(East to West) directions; thus the whole city looks neat and ordered. Also, the main horizontal streets were named according to numbers from 10 to 2.

      My university for exchange—Kyoto Seika University,  lies on the north of Kyoto, has a history of over 60 years. The modern architecture is designed by the graduates from school; because of the advantage near mountains, students has more opportunities to get inspirations directly from nature and make big works in the nature


      Japanese Paper(Washi) Making Class

      PART 1

      In the elective lessons of Seika, Japanese paper making interests me the most, as the traditional paper making course is not easy to find in Western countries. Paper comes from nature, making paper can be viewed as a process of communication with nature as well.

      1.In our first lesson, recycling carbon paper were used. They were divided according to colour, so there won’t be a dirty colour for the outcome

      2.Carbons were put in a pulper with water and became a paste shape

      3.Put the paste in a paper making mold floating on water.

      4.Dry the extra water


      A piece of carbon paper is done! The chips of other colours faints in the carbon’s colour. 

      image7 (1)


      PART 2

      In common sense, paper is flat, so I was very fond of making 3D paper sculpture. We used plaster to cast our hand first, then put the paper into plaster mode.

      image3 (1)image6 (1)

      PART 3

      The material for most Japanese paper making-Kozo, English name is mulberry

      The material for most Japanese paper making-Kozo, English name is mulberry

      In advanced lesson, we were taught to make coloured paper. Instead of painting with colours on the paper, paper can be made with colours initially.

      -Prepare Kozo, which is mulberry in English, dye it with pigment

      -Dry out the extra colours to get all the colour seep into Kozo (long long process)

      -Have a layer of original Kozo, a layer of glue(made from taro), and the coloured layer

      The two layers of a paper

      image6 (2)

      Exploring Artist and Non-Artist Collaborations

      I found this catalogue of the exhibition ‘We were trying to make sense…’ at 1 Shanthiroad in Bangalore, India. The exhibition curated by Magda Fabianczyk and coordinated by Sophie Hoyle, provided an opportunity to discuss the texts in relation to collaborative works with non-artsts in an Indian context.

      (Notes from the text)


      -Non-artists participation in art institutions after post war 20th century (formalist criticism)

      -Fluxus group(1960s)’s work provided a heightened experience of everyday, in which the viewers were formally fused with the space-time of performance and thereby lost identity as ‘audience’

      Contemporary concerns:

      -Both ‘audience participation’ and new technologies has tended towards hyperbole…they share certain vocabularies of connecting people, sharing knowledge,  and somehow bringing light to the world.

      -Ideas of ‘interactivity’ and ‘connectivity’ with the live-feed and net art indicate and immediacy and liveness of connection

      Work by Magda Fabianczyk

      -Walking Press was developed on the Grey Leopold Estate, east London over two years, building cross-generateional and cross-cultural relationships with neighbouring families. She explores the limits of collaboration , what happens then the professional becomes personal and attachments form, and when the artist subsequently leaves the estate.

      Work by Erica Scourti

      -Reality Life(2009) is a video work nude through recruiting teenage girls in  the UK to read a script written by the artist, comprised form unscripted reality TV shows and documentaries. Between them they narrate the TV portrayal of girls’ issues and everyday life through the language of TV.

      Participant: Petra Bryant

      -She saw the message online, didn’t know what to expect during the process, but trusted the artist (Petra looked up artist’s name online)

      -“It wasn’t ‘work’ as such, it was a bit of fun, I had no expectation because I didn’t know what the outcome would be, I just said few sentences, creating an art work wasn’t important to me

      -She doesn’t feel like being collaborated, as artist edited the video.

      -Communication through email, but interviews made her feel more involved

      ‘We Were Trying to Make Sense’ BY Sophie Hoyle

      -Many of the difficulties of collaborative artworks are essentially the difficulties of interpersonal communication and relationality.

      -Some people viewing practices catering for a general audience makes them less legitimate or less credible works

      -Involving non-artist take more time in discussion and consultation, thus less efficient.

      -A lot of the interesting and meaningful work in art takes place in asking questions rather than teacher a given body of knowledge.

      -Collaboration: open-ended nature, fluid process, may not be a measurable outcome

      -Artist engagement may not take direct impact but may start a chain of knock-on effects.

      The flow of concepts – table trace

      1. Inspired by Dieter Roth, I found table as a really important object to document artist’s life, thus I picked my table in the studio to make a start. I used a A1 tracing paper to trace all the marks left on this table, including knife cuts, paint splash, graffiti…though these are not marks from me, they are interesting for me to see as artistic vestige.

      my table


      process of tracing

      finished painting


      Then I traced a dining table from school canteen, with knife cuts left on like line drawings. Chinese ink is used instead of oil as the straight lines may look more fluent, though it eventually doesn’t work very well on the canvas.

      the dining table in canteen

      2. After these two paintings were made, I received a few comments from my friends, they assumed these are loose abstract paintings. Inversely, the marks were traced bit by bit with tension. The contradiction between the surface and actual painting process kind of became the second concept of them.

      3. Then I started thinking about the term of ‘value’. What is the value of a piece of artwork? Is it the cost of material? Or is it the effort that you put in? Or does it depends on how great your idea is? These questions can cause too many debates, so I am going to keep it simple.

      For me, the act of translating random marks on a table raises the value of the marks themselves. They used to be unnoticed, almost invisible objects in this world, by putting them through the medium of painting and be shown in the gallery, I would like viewers to discover the beauty of the table marks as what they are. I asked myself ‘Does the medium changed the value of art?’ Perhaps it could be referred to Duchamp’s Fountain in the museum, though Duchamp tried to address ‘What is art?’

      4. For my exhibition, I planed to show the first table trace I made with it being framed and attached to four legs to be a table, and it would be shown with the original table, I intended to question ‘Which has more value as a piece of art? Is it the objecthood of the original table? Or is it the replication of the object through a medium?’. My tutor Jeff questioned me if it is necessary to do that, it made me realize the frame is not necessary; and the second painting is more powerful as the pictorial elements were reduced to address the main concept.

      5. What is more interesting to show in the exhibition? I guess it’s the works that gain more questions and debates from the spectators. I found the piece of painting quite plain to show as a piece of painting, that’s where the idea of ‘table painting’ come from.

      I made this table in the workshop (84x60x80cm), and found it quite strange with a canvas attached to the wooden legs. So I wrapped the table legs with canvas to enable the table itself be part of the ‘painting’.


      Painting Now-Five contemporary artists


      I went to this painting exhibition at Tate, it is interesting to see as five artists showed various sides and interpretation of painting in the contemporary world, it is clear that five of them are strongly different from each other using the same medium—Painting.

      1. Tomma Abts: The act of painting is ‘a concrete experience anchored in the material I am handling’.

      2. Simon Ling: The act of painting being an event about time and emotional connection and response.

      3. Lucy McKenzie: Painting is a tool, or a means to an end.

      4. Catherine Story: The subject of paintings can be located in the strangeness of looking at things and what happens when this is translated through painting.

      5. Gillian Carnegie:’I prefer to consider the painting as a thing in the world rather than the painting as a picture of things in the world’

      I especially like Gillian Carnegie’s paintings, as her paintings seems to have undeclared meaning behind that evokes my personal emotions, the ambiguous feeling of looking at familiar subject presented in an unfamiliar way (use of colour and cropped picture)


      -Medium scale, non abstract or figurative, texture on the surface creates interesting visual effect



      -Depiction of urban scenes, cropped images which look like random photo shots or the view you can see while in a moving car, use of fluorescent colour highlights the whole image, make the urban scenes not so ‘dull’



      -Paintings pined on boards like how they present in artist’s studio/super-realist painting of pined boards, connection with interior design, painted architecture


      -Solid forms, still life but kind of indicates another form



      -Choice of subject are from everyday life, strong mysterious atmosphere in terms of black, white, grey colour and cat figures