All posts tagged as paintmaking


Charbon de Beringen : Artist Residency in coal washing plant

You already knew that I make paint from coal, since you’re following this blog.
The end of march, I revealed that I’m working with local coal to make the darkest black paint.

But what I didn’t told you yet, is that I was preparing my Artist Residency at that time. For 4 months, I had the most beautiful, inspiring studio I can imaging.

Local TV station TVL came to pay me a visit

so did the internetgazet:

Both links are in Dutch, but you’ll get the picture.

My eternal thanks to be-MINE for giving me permission and their kind support,
and a very big thank you to all former miners who dug up this beautiful coal.


Coal preparation plant Beringen

part 1: The most beautiful and blackest pigment, comes from …
part 2 : Coal preparation plant Beringen
part 3 : Artist Residency in old mine building

Mine shaft Beringen - So I saw coal lying on a place that I could not reach, and popped the question, to be-MINE. If I please could collect some coal, because I want to use it in my paintings? Turned out they already knew my work, so that was allowed. Even more: I got a whole guided tour through the buildings, on the way to better coal than the one I had seen from the outside.

I’m really crazy about these old coal plants, so I was high for at least a week afterwards, from all the places I’ve seen with a safety helmet on my head.
Actually, I’m high again whenever I look at the photos I made that day. Even though most of them failed because of being taken too quickly and enthusiastically :).

But the best is yet to come: the coal, because that’s what it was all about. Coal from Beringen, the city my parents originated from. Coal from the coal mine in whose hospital I was born.

I got a few “types”, different thicknesses of coal. On sight this coal does not really look black, it is not really dark. “That’s dust,” I think, so I start by washing the smallest coal. Funny though, washing coal that you have received from a coal-washing plant. Even funnier was that the rinsing water was so thick that it did not run through the sieve, but remained on top of it. It looked like mercury. This is probably due to the magnetite that was added to the water in the coal washing plant in order to separate the coal from the stones, but I deviate.

Coal from the coal preparation plant of Beringen - AnV.besmall pieces of coal from Beringen -

So I washed the coal, and let it dry. It still looked as light. Afterwards I grinded it to powder, added some products and rubbed it into paint.
Pigment paste made with coal from Beringen - AnV.beMy blackest coalpaint -

Black paint. But really black paint. Much blacker than the color of the dry coal suggests that it could ever be. So black, that I started to wonder …

Do you remember the tests I was talking about yesterday, to make paint as black as possible? Guess what else is blacker than coal that has been dulled by mixing chemical products?
Exactly: coal from Beringen. :-)

Blackest coalpaint tests by An Vanderlinden

Since then I have been “slightly” possessed by this coal from Beringen. I stand up with it, and I go to sleep with it. Hours and hours and hours I’ve spent on testing, because with this, I really want to paint. I’ll tell you more about that soon. I am still trying to summarize it …. and that’s a hell of a job itself ;)


The most beautiful and blackest pigment, comes from ……

part 1: The most beautiful and blackest pigment, comes from …
part 2 : Coal preparation plant Beringen
part 3 : Artist Residency in old mine building

I talk a lot about paint over here, which I’m making from pigment-ground coal. But what I didn’t told you yet, is with which coal I’m doing all these tests. Not all coal is the same you know. Far from.

From Semple’s Black over coal from Zolder to weird tests with purchased coal.

kibble coal from Zolder - anv.beMy collaboration with Semple’s search for the blackest paint possible for everyone (except Anish Kapoor), was the beginning of my “coalpaint story”. I started experimenting with coal from Zolder. That paint was dark brown. Then I tried anthracite. The result was a neutral black paint. Mixed with Semple’s Black 2.0, it was the blackest existing paint. Until here you were up-to-date.

But I wanted to make the paint more black. The more light something absorbens, the darker it seems. A matt surface absorbens light. But the antracite I used, shines. A shining pigment reflects the light in stead of absorbing it. I should be able to fix that…

tests manipulated coal pigment-

Fix it, like in: trying to make the coal mat. For this I did the most idiotic tests: Mixing coal with White Spirit, with turpentine, with Ammonia, with … all unhealthy stinking products, which deprived the coal of its luster. I transformed the matted coal into paint, hoping to get the black paint even blacker. And that worked. The difference between the paint results was by far not as big as the difference between dry pigment, but it was there. A lot of hassle. And really not healthy. Good for a test strip, not for producing.

But because of the color difference between Zolder’s coal and that of the purchased coal …

I became very curious about what color the coal of Beringen would give. Below the washing plant, I could see piles of coal, which I would really like to have. But the site was closed with fences, and there was a warning sign that there’s camera surveillance. Damn.

If there is something that I learned in 2017

then it is, that if I really want something, I just have to dare to ask. The answer is surprisingly often yes, and I am incredibly happy about that.
The rest you can read tomorrow :-), in part 2.


Testing testing one, two, square root, to the power 3

foto bereking verfontwikkeling, met rekenmachine, in het atelier van AnV.beI admit, I’m exaggerating, it’s not THAT difficult. Happily. But the mathematics I need these days is more then I can bear.
Mathematics. And Chemistry. Oooooh how I hated these words in high school! Then again: I hated high school, period.
I wanted to go to the Art school, but had to finish my ‘regular’ high school first. ‘Because if you change your mind later on, you’ll still be able to go to university” my caring parents said.

I don’t like science. I love mystery, and fantasizing. I don’t have to know how everything works, I like to be surprised and happy that something does work. What fun do you have seeing a magic trick, if somebody told you before how it works?

anv_paint_tests-bWell, that was my world in high school. Now that I’m making my own paint, to my surprise and disguise, I need Chemistry as well as Mathematics. But I wasn’t good in both. I studied Modern Languages because of that (and because I thought that was the only skill I could use later on in life). But now: how can I make a 40% solution, out of the leftovers from a 50% solution? I had no idea. And I didn’t want to start from scratch again because that means I have to spoil some material. Of course it wasn’t the most logical solution, and I didn’t had any clue how to find the correct one.

Then it crossed my mind: oh, wait a minute… Dee (my husband), studied, uhm, chemistry. And he “bragged” on a family party lately, how good he used to be in mathematics in high school. (He has a completely different career now). So: Dee, help!?

Read more →


Best wishes!

Black / Best wishes for a Brilliant 2018! Have a happy and healthy New Year!

Used paints:
– base/background = regular paint for art (Golden Carbon Black matte Acrylics)
– black = AnV’s blackest coalpaint
– wishes for = Stuart Semple’s Black 2.0
– brilliant 2018 = AnV’s glossy coal


Black Friday?

Oh well, that’s just an ordinary day in my studio :-)

Black paint tests AnV.beBlack paint tests

So yes, I’m still trying to create the nicest black. I have a very beautifull, very dark one, with a velvet structure. I absolutely love it. And it’s really really black. Now I’m trying to find the best way to produce it, because I have big plans for next year, and I’ll need a lot of this paint.


Blacker than any black acrylic paint so far: Black 2.0 and coal.

A blacker black part 2. As I wrote in part 1, Semple’s coworker asked me if I had already made something with my coal paint. I was working on a few pieces, sent some intermediate pictures and worked like mad to demonstrate outcomes. I managed to finish them a couple of weeks ago.
But it’s difficult to show the result. A photograph does not reflect how dark, how matt that paint is. Therefor I also made videos, but they’ve been made with the same small camera (no reflex). It continuously wants to add light.

Paint with coal from Zolder

AnV - Y3 - 40x40cm studio shot: painting with black 2.0 and coal paintI made this painting with paint I made with coal from the last Belgian coalmine, Zolder; and some Black 2.0. I attached a little ceramic ‘coal vessel’ as in my ceramic Saint Barbara’s. In real life, with moderate light (*) and from a little distant, you don’t see there’s something attached to the canvas, it just seems to be a circle.
I explain which paints I used in the different parts of this canvas, in the video below. Please select the 1080HD quality.
(Click here to watch the video directly in YouTube)

My blackest black piece of art so far

The blackest black acrylic paint on ceramic - Black 2.0 and coal - anv.beis this Saint Barbara, entitled “In the name of my father, my grandfather and their friends” f2/07, Acylics and coal on earthenware, An Vanderlinden, 2017.

You don’t want to know how many hours it took me before it looked like this. Black 2.0 is very matte, and very difficult to ‘enlighten’. The difference between plain acrylic and Black 2.0 is huge. To get transitions between light and dark, I mixed Black 2.0 with plain black paint, and with matte medium. But wet paint is shiny, so the result was never predictable. Layers, lots of layers until I had the desired effect. 

So the “luminous” parts in this work are plain black paint, diluted with ordinary mediums. Only for a few accents I used gloss medium, and some coal on top, but you can see that kind of details in the short video below (Click here to watch the video directly in YouTube – please select the 1080HD quality)

Black. I have a lot to say about it, so to be continued. But not now: I really need to work in my studio.

(*) If you put a spotlight on it, it seems to be grey. So there’s still a lot of work todo before Black 2.0 comes near nanoblack.

AnV background image