About Craig Webb

The Kremer’s Pigments experience

Kremer's Pigments store shelves with bags of pigment
Kremer’s Pigments sells all types of raw pigments and chemistry in baggies and jars.

Last week I had an appointment in Manhattan and I used this appointment as an excuse to buy art toys and visit Blick’s Art Supply and Kremer’s Pigments.

Baggies of pigment at checkout
A selection of earth pigments and inorganic pigments in my check-out basket.

This year of pandemic I have made three journeys into Manhattan to buy art supplies. Most stores were closed in the first few months but in July the art supply stores began to open. I called ahead and mapped out a journey from SoHo to Herald Square.

I have used my pandemic quarantine time to paint and draw. The media I work with are sumi ink, pencil drawing and egg tempera. Each has their place in my expression. Egg tempera is special for the chemistry of it and the vibrancy of color.

Over the past few years I have made occasional trips to Kremer’s Pigments on 29th St. to buy powdered pigments. The powdered pigments come in baggies and look like the baggies of marijuana one might have bought in the 1970’s. The pigments come in all colors and some are also sold in jars.

Kremer’s sells various types of chemistry to mix with the pigments, paint brushes and other art tools.

I started by purchasing just a few color pigments to use with my sumi ink paintings. Sumi ink provides a strong black and a zillion shades of grey. One light bright color such as yellow ochre can offset the monochromatic color scheme with a complimentary eye-catching pop.

A mix of earth, inorganic and dye-based pigments
Expanding my selections of reds, yellows and blues. the Terra Pozzuoli works great.

I also picked up various earth pigments, starting with a limited palette. My artist training focused on printmaking so working with a limited palette appeals to me.

It did not taken long before I embarked on supplying myself with a full spectrum of color pigments.

Most of the pigments come in baggies. At home, I transfer the pigments into plastic spice jars and carefully peel the sticker labels from the baggies and paste them to my jars.

In addition to the earth pigments such as umber, ocher and earth greens, I have acquired many cobalt and cadmium-based colors – intense reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues and violets. The earth pigments are not hard to handle but many pigments are toxic and I have to work carefully with them.

Because the pigments are the straight stuff, I can add them to various types of binders to create all sorts of painting mediums. Kremer’s supplies items such as gum arabic to make watercolors, additives for egg tempera, oil paint or inks such as ox gall and walnut oil, linseed oil, waxes, shellacs, and crystallized gums to make varnish.

Cadmium, Cobalt and earth pigments, more brushes
Cadmium, Cobalt and earth pigments, extending my palette. I always need more brushes. I have started to explore iridescent mica pigments too.

The store sales assistants are a little shy because of Covid-19 but they are really quite helpful and knowledgeable about different types of chemistry that artists might use.

It is quite an experience to come in person into the store and see the pigments on the shelf in baggies. I like to come and see. Kremer’s offered classes in the spring on how to make stuff or do certain art tasks but I don’t think classes are available at this time.

Because of having to close at the start of the pandemic and the vagaries of supply and demand, some supplies are often out and on reorder. Kremer’s also has a website where pigments can be ordered over the Internet.

Working with dry pigments is a taste and experience that is not for everyone but for those of us who really delve into the chemistry and science of making art, Kremer’s in New York City is a real joy.

More pigments, more paper, more brushes
Lots of earth colors this time, and two tones of Alizarine Crimson. I paint on wood and printmaking papers, and I draw with pencil. I add a few tools and supplies regularly.

The girl with the pink hair

A tragic event happened this summer in Seattle during the Black Lives Matter protests that I keep thinking about; what I came to see, and what I learned about myself and my relationship with racism.

The Black Femme March against racism and police violence, a festive, peaceful protest for BLM was followed by a drive-by hit and run that killed one person and badly injured another.

Summer Taylor

Summer Taylor

The person who was killed was a 24-year-old named Summer Taylor. The injured person was Diaz Love, a 32-year-old from Portland, Oregon.

I saw Summer Taylor’s photo on Twitter after the event and at first I only knew them as “The girl with the pink hair”.

I have since learned that Summer Taylor used non-binary they/them pronouns. 24-year-old Summer Taylor with the pink hair worked at the Urban Animal veterinarian clinic by day and was an activist by night, participating regularly in the Black Lives Protests, which had continued daily for months, and still continue to this day.

Reading about the protest and Summer Taylor’s death the following morning on Twitter, I came upon a video of people participating in the protest before the car incident.

In the video the protesters are dancing together.

A crowd of festive, peaceful protesters gathered on I-5 in Seattle dancing to The Cupid Shuffle to celebrate BLM

The Black Lives Matter movement, the media and the conversation about it has made me aware of race-based injustice and triggered recognition of my complicity with systematic racism. I have come to recognize my relative comfort of privilege in American society and also the pang of fear I have about losing that privilege. Privilege feels like some sort of edge that I need to lean on to get by. We live in scary times. Letting go is an act of trust.

This video grabbed my attention and made me stop and think. There they are. The protesters are dancing together, having fun. Demonstrating a society without racism and a new vision of what life can become.

Watching the dance, I see that equality for everyone is not a win-lose proposition. It is a new possibility that everyone can be privileged, and we will be better for it.

When everyone is privileged we will all be smarter, safer, more engaged, wealthier. There will be a bigger pie. There will be more, not less. Everyone will share equally in human rights and be entitled to dignity and respect – an equally privileged place in society.



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