I like to use traditional techniques and materials as much as possible in my work. This begins by drawing my initial geometric designs by hand with a compass and ruler, to hand cutting my stencils, then to painting using the ancient method of egg tempera with natural pigments onto wood and gilding with 24 carat gold leaf. 

Pigments

I use predominantly natural pigments sourced from the earth, mineral stones and plants, as well as some more modern pigments. I enjoy working with natural pigments as the colours can be much softer and work more harmoniously together than synthetic paints. As the pigments are made of crushed earth and minerals the tiny sparkling crystals of these rocks can still be seen in the finished painting. This makes the work take on different appearances in different light. The variations in the texture of the earths and rocks also adds an extra dimension to the compositions that cannot be achieved with synthetic paints.

 

I prepare and grind many of my own pigments by hand in a pestle and mortar. I collect them as earth or as mineral rocks and then I clean and grind them before mixing them with egg tempera to turn them into paint. 

Egg Tempera

I paint using the ancient tradition of egg tempera painting. I make it using egg yolk, water and vinegar. The solution acts as a binder holding the pigment particles together in the paint. The pigments mix beautifully with the egg tempera solution and they dry to a matt finish. Once the paint has fully hardened over time it creates a very strong surface which is water resistant and the colours do not fade over time as they can with some other binders.

Gilding

I often use gold leaf in my work to reflect light and enhance the patterns. I work using only the finest 24 carat gold leaf hand made in the UK. I use an oil size to adhere the gold to the wood. 

Handmade Brushes

I have made many of my own brushes using cedar wood and donkey hair. I learnt this technique in Morocco and have continued it in my own practice as it gives excellent results.

Drawing Geometry

All my geometric constructions are created by hand using a compass and ruler. I have a large repertoire of patterns that I have accumulated over the years. This is largely thanks to my time at the Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts and the generous teachers there who taught me the foundations of geometry and the understanding and ability to work on my own geometric constructions. I am particularly interested in patterns found in Morocco and Medieval Islamic Spain, but I have also enjoyed working on designs found in many other countries. 

All work © Natasha Mann 2020     natasha.mann@live.co.uk

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