Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rock Art, December 23

During my December stay in north Rochester, I took an evening stroll down the Seth Green trail, into the Genesee Gorge.  While gazing at the massive icicles that had formed along the shale and limestone exposures, I noticed a layer of rock -- about a foot thick -- cutting a reddish line across the otherwise gray cliffs.  

Then I recalled having been there before, in the '90s, on a geology field trip.  This was the Furnaceville hematite, a low-grade (oolitic!) iron ore.  It had been used, I'd been told, to make a reddish brown house paint in the 1800s. It had been popular especially for painting barns. 

I climbed up a short, snowy slope and grabbed a small chunk. I was intrigued by the possibility of painting with Rochester's only mineral pigment. A week or so later I used a hammer to break up the small rock and then grind it into a powder. I mixed some with water and made a few quick, improvised watercolor sketches.

I mixed the rest with acrylic medium to make a sort of gesso ground for a few panels.  Lacking proper grinding equipment, I was left with a very gritty gesso -- rather like sandpaper when it dried.  But, still, I like the thought of painting some future Rochester scenes on Rochester rock.  Rock-art for the ROC-ART project.

1 comment:

BillWanda said...

What a wonderful, full-circle kind of thing to do, Jim! Did you paint on the gessoed paper you made?