Genuine Lapis Lazuli (Chilean)
This product is no longer available
Due to the indefinite closure of the Lapis mine in the Chilean Andes, it has become impossible to buy this pigment. This colour will be discontinued. Michael Harding has found a new Lapis Lazuli pigment supplier, but not in Chile. The Chilean Lapis Lazuli No.604 will now be replaced by an Afghan Lapis Lazuli No.702. To find out more: please visit our news page: www.michaelharding.co.uk/news.php
Lapis Lazuli and Azurite are a family of natural earth pigments and were the source of the famous blues of the middle ages. There are plenty of books that deal with this subject superbly but I feel it appropriate that we say a few things about it since we have just been able to add a Chilean variety to our range of oils with an Afghan version being available as a special order.
The first and most noticeable thing about the Chilean compared to the modern synthetic equivalent ultramarine blue, is the considerably less tinting and covering power and its slightly dirtier colour, though neither of these traits should be seen to detract from the natural beauty. If you are looking for a blue of great sharpness with huge explosive possibilities and tinting ability that can almost poke your eye out, even when intermixed with just about any colour, try phthalocyanine blue! Lapis is a different creature altogether. My own inclination is to almost create the painting for the colour rather than the colour for the painting.
P.e. combined with Terre Verte and some other earth colours its at home with, spread out as a wash drawn across a landscape at horizon line and itís done, it almost paints itself. Alternately added as a toner to cool shadows in portraits the choices of course are yours and as I always say itís you the artists who have to do the hard part!
When I first assessed the feel and nature of the pigment it was instantly clear it would have to be milled/dispersed with great care and very gently. Hand grinding was interesting but didnít quite yield its inner nature as the crisper colour isnít quite achieved this way so I elected to use a stone roller mill. The relationship of stone and oil to stone seemed more harmonious; to have used a steel roller machine would have been sacrilegious to say the least. Its texture is slightly granular almost fluffy in its body, when stroked between fingers you can feel the slight sandy particles which are up to 20 microns in size this is of course minute. The synthetic Ultramarine Blue feels more like a gel almost as if there are no particles within the difference being the later particles are less than a micron in size. I do see that the making of this lapis was a great challenge and I feel almost nervous yet possessive about making it available to you all.
We import this pigment ourselves all the way from Chile itís mined 14,000 ft up in the Andes where the workers can only gain access for some of the year their summer as I believe the mine is snowed in for the rest of the year. In the summer of 2007 I met David Hockney and Lucien Freud at the Royal Academy here in London. David at the time was showing his giant tree painting privately, I thought it would be fun to present both artists with a tube of lapis each and I must be honest thinking about the nature of both artists works I had expected more of a reaction from Lucien. However I am delighted that it was Mr. Hockneyís interest and placing of a substantial request that swung me in favor of adding it to our range as this would justify bringing a larger volume of the pigment to London. I was also determined that we would be able to price it in a lower series than the vermilion and itís my hope that we will in future as we again bring in larger amounts be able to lower the price accordingly. As with all oil colours to achieve the best in terms of light fastness I suggest you dry the lapis oil paint in a good light this alleviates the nature of linseed to go rather murky, we are also considering making lapis in walnut oil and would welcome artist thoughts and comments on this matter.
This colour has been discontinued, and replaced by an Afghan Lapis Lazuli No.702.
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