The Ochres of Roussillon


Natural ochre pigments from Roussillon, Provence, France

Roussillon was one of my favorite towns in Provence.  It is famous for its history of producing ochre pigments for arts and construction.  Today the industry has declined due to the introduction of synthetic pigments, but the natural pigments are available in small quantities in the shops in Roussillon.  The buildings in the town are a wide range of warm colors:  yellow, pink, salmon, red, and brown.  You can walk through the old ochre quarries where the yellow and red colors of the earth create a striking contrast with the green of the pine trees and the blue sky.

The color of the earth reminds me of the red soil of the North Carolina piedmont where I grew up, but the soil is sandier than the NC clay.  I suppose that is why we made bricks instead of mining pigment.  The colors also remind me of the adobe structures of the southwestern US, but the shapes are different.

I brought home a some of the beautiful natural pigments representing the colors of Roussillon.   I plan to mix them with some acrylic mediums and incorporate them into my artwork in the future.

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