PORTUGAL PIGMENT JOURNEY
2 months studio time in a wonderful forest house in Portugal. The main subject of Deborah Kressebuch's work is the production of pigments and colors.
It all started many years ago. From the network, which started long ago as a sponsored kitesurfer, a very special friendship has remained over the years: Joao, professional skipper when Alinghi won the Americans Cup in 2003.
For several years he had repeatedly offered her his forest house as a winter residence. In 2021, this plan had to be scrapped again because Portugal's borders were closed due to Covid. In 2023 the time had finally come: in mid-January she reached the beautiful forest house south of Lisbon. Deborah was allowed to stay and work here as long as she wanted. The house in the middle of a pine and cork oak forest, surrounded by pure silence, was perfect to finally delve deeply and long into her work and to further develop what she otherwise never found the time and peace for.
In specialist literature, she studied old recipes and processes in paint production. She had taken all the books with her. Among them was the wonderful work COLOR BOOK by Alata Verlag. Very well researched information and historical, old knowledge is reproduced with beautiful recordings and thus provides a very good basis for her work topic.
Deborah Kressebuch went in search of the optimal manufacturing process for good pigments. The way was long and slow, besides very grainy:
First of all, it was about finding the good stone - with every step she looked for colored rock in her immediate vicinity and collected, from stones to shells to anything else that seemed particularly colorful to her.
For hours and days she would pound rocks into powder, sift and grind further to the finest possible dust, and fill the precious commodity into her jars. A granular difficulty remained: as colorful and inspiring as the collection looked, the pigments often didn't want to give off their colors as strongly as they first appeared. And so was the ongoing challenge of finding really bold, beautiful colors.
On her exploration tours in the country she found ocher mines and many colored shells on the beaches, but she wanted to embark on an even more specific color journey: collect colors for a whole week and follow the colored earths very specifically, first according to Google Maps. As if sent by the universe, she ran into another Joao, this time for burying herself in the sand with the bus, and he was there to push her back out of the sand. Joao himself is a bon vivant, was just on his way home from a two-month trip collecting for his house made of natural materials, which he built entirely by hand and himself. His bus was heavily laden with old ship's beams, driftwood, and beautiful stones. Nobody could have told her better where to find her colors! The clues led them to incredibly impressive places.
The collection was huge and the work that followed was hard and slow. But there was a wide range of pigments, which she continuously tested with different binders - countless test strips for each pigment were created in a large book, each given a name and its own label.
But she wanted to find out more: painting with pigments is one thing. But she couldn't stop looking for recipes for chalks and colored pencils. This search turned out to be more difficult, she found only a few clues from the specialist literature, a recipe for pastels, hints for oil pastels. The internet didn't get her very far, apart from the general realization that extremely high-quality pigments with strong coloring power were required for chalks and especially for colored pencils.
She brainstormed all sorts of thickening binders, bought everything from tapioca to gelatine that could be used in the supermarket - day after day she carried out experiments on the production of chalks and colored pencils and, over a long chain of development experiments, finally found her recipes for Pastel and oil pastels and a recipe for colored pencils.
The impressive palette was initially created with the Gornergrat pigments - because for the upcoming projects she needed the palette of Gornergrat colors as chalks and colored pencils...
On the way back to Switzerland in early March, Deborah Kressebuch visited the ocher rocks in the Luberon, where she found further answers in her search for the production of high-quality color pigments. The museum revealed to her processes of cleaning the pigments, which in turn led to an even more complex production - but brought her even closer to her goal.