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About Reiko Kubota

Materials and Methods

The use of materials and the image constructed are intimately related. One informs the other and in turn choices made for how to make paintings are informed by the experiences gained of working with different materials. All materials have their own properties and character.
1 am interested in the behaviour of pigments, as materials rather than colour variations. 1 value the individuality of the materials so I do not mix colours. The notion that what the eye recognises as colours are the refractions of light from different surfaces of materials pigments, I find meaningful, but that interest also has to find a balance with using colours in terms of their colour values (hues) when constructing an image.
Research and experimentation with how pigments work in different media has informed the choices 1 have made over the years. Some pigments are coarse; some spread evenly or are brittle, smooth, transparent or opaque. Certain colours have strong tinting qualities while others barely note their presence. When painting, all these properties are important and inform the choices to be made.

Beyond the Surhce, 1991 (dated)
Beyond the Surhce, 1991 (dated)

I first experienced the luminosity of colour that can be achieved through glazing when studying this Western technique of oil painting, which has been Influential in the development of my own painting.
An oil glaze may include turpentine, stand oil and damar varnish in different proportions, creating a treacie-Iike medium into which the oil paint is mixed. The intensity of the glaze can be affected by adding m0re 0r less oil paint to the medium, and by applying one or more layers. Given that most glazes are relatively transparent, all the details of the painting remain visible (detail from 'Beyond the Surface').

Square Random, 1996 (detail)
Beyond the Surhce, 1991 (dated)

It is like painting with liquid coloured glass. Ught is refracted, entering the eye of the viewer having travelled through the successive transparent layers. The result is great luminosity and richness of colour and offers a means fer the artist to transform perceptions of colour and space within the picture plane (detail from 'Square Random'). Another advantage of this process is that it can also be combined with other painting media.


First you take an egg. Then you carefully separate the yolk from the egg white, prick the sac and pour the yellow contents into a small dish. To this you add the pigment and a little water. Stir well and paint. But be sure that you have also prepared a gesso ground, rich in chalk and glue size, layered patiently to create a smooth white, reflective and properly absOrbent surface. Then, with soft brushes and a light touch the tempera paint is drawn from the fibres and leaves a brilliant permanent mark. ('Triptych Untitled II 1997')

Triptych Untitled II 1997
Beyond the Surhce, 1991 (dated)

Dazzler 1995
Beyond the Surhce, 1991 (dated)

It is like painting with liquid coloured glass. Ught is refracted, entering the eye of the viewer having travelled through the successive transparent layers. The result is great luminosity and richness of colour and offers a means fer the artist to transform perceptions of colour and space within the picture plane (detail from 'Square Random'). Another advantage of this process is that it can also be combined with other painting media.


Pigments
Pigments

It is like painting with liquid coloured glass. Ught is refracted, entering the eye of the viewer having travelled through the successive transparent layers. The result is great luminosity and richness of colour and offers a means fer the artist to transform perceptions of colour and space within the picture plane (detail from 'Square Random'). Another advantage of this process is that it can also be combined with other painting media.


Paper
Paper

Different grounds offer further opportunities for invention and experimentation with colour. Paper can be incredibly strong and its translucent properties allow for play with the location of the painted image. In recent works I have expl0red painting on both sides of the paper before gluing it to panels for stability and continuing the painting process. There is an intrinsic beauty to fine paper which enables the unpainted surface to have meaning as space within an image rather than being a void. The matt surface of some papers also creates an interesting contrast to the reflective properties of gold leaf.

Order and Dissonance, 2003
Order and Dissonance, 2001

Glue size, which can be made from different materials such as animal hide, bone extracts and plant starch can also be used to bind pigments directly. The technique I use requires that a glue of the c0rrect strength is prepared and kept warm while pigment is added to it and then applied thinly. Layering becomes possible when the paint is diluted with plenty of water so long as care IS taken not to build up the surface too much, as this will result in a dulling of the colours. There is an lmmedlacy in this way of painting and bold applications of colour work well ('Order and Dissonance').


In my work gold is used to describe or indicate light. Just as light changes so does the reflection of light from the surface of the paintings, subtle variations in the application of the gold leaf further enhancing this visual experience. In the painting gold is the sunlight shining through snow covered leaves of trees in a snowscape. In another work 'Sky Tree', trees and flowers are depicted against a clear sky in the sun, the light being rendered as gold. When gold leaf is applied to the back of thin Japanese paper it also provudes some reflection of light back through the colour and the paper itself, playing with the question of where the surface truly resides and shifting perceptions of opacity and translucency of materials.

Gold leaf
Gold leaf