In PIGMENT FEATURE’s "My Personal Favorite" series, we interview our art material experts who are also active as artists about their favorite art materials.
Following Margarita Serizawa's interview in the last feature, this article features Atsumi Okano, who you might recognise from our Instagram live videos.
Okano used to study abroad in California. I wonder what kind of art materials does she usually use for her works? Let's start our interview right away!
- Do you have any certain concept in mind when you create your works?
I guess you could call it a “natural phenomenon”.
When I see the shadows of leaves swaying on the ground, or sunlight reflecting on the surface of the water, I sometimes feel as if it is flickering and echoing inside me.
I find inspiration from the light and colors through my everyday life, and I try to capture their afterimages into the canvas with layers of color.
The gradation of colors itself appears like a sign of how time flows, therefore, I find the oil paints that dry slowly and become accustomed to the surface of the painting are quite interesting in their own way.
- How did you first get into oil painting?
When I first arrived in the U.S, I was going to take my major in photography, but I wanted to express the imaginary world from my mind more directly, so I started drawing with paints.
The professor I was studying with at that time was broadly knowledgeable about principles of color and all kinds of art materials, and she opened the door of oil paints for me.
To be honest, oil paints come in different ways and can create different kinds of expression, so there’s still a lot for me to learn.
《Star Treasure》Atsumi Okano, 2015
- I heard that Vernet by Holbien is your favorite oil paints brand. Do you mind telling us how you came across this material?
Ya, sure! I usually use tube paints diluted with solvents and create my works by layering colors. So I was looking for paints that can create a sense of transparency but the colors keep staying vibrant.
When I had my first try on Vernet oil paints, I was surprised by the creamy and glossy texture along with the vividness of the colors.
- What do you like about this product so far?
My favorite thing about this product is that it produces beautiful transparent colors. The colors are rich without being muddy, and they remain clear and bright even when blended and mixed.
No matter how many layers of color I have painted, they still keep their own “individuality”, therefore, I can create deeper and more interesting textures without mixing the colors.
- Vernet is known for its elegant color by minimizing the use of different ingredients during the manufacturing process, right?
Yes, the manufacturer, Holbien, is trying to keep the formula as simple as possible, so the colors stay pure and high saturation.
Moreover, Vernet oil paints are available in Silver White and Titanium White, which are kneaded with Linseed Oil and Poppy Oil respectively.
You can mix them to create pastel colors, or draw with the white paint alone, and use their unique characteristics to match your own painting style.
- Do you have any favorite color in particular?
There is no end to the number of colors I like in the Vernet series, but there are a few colors like cobalt violet, ultramarine blue, cobalt turquoise, bismuth yellow, pyrrole orange, and quinacridone magenta, that I often use.
- What are some of the challenges or new art materials you would like to take or try on in the future?
The gallery view during "Morning Call" exhibition 2021, Art Space Rashinban, Tokyo
I would like to try other art media besides oil painting, perhaps installation works.
I would also like to paint on silk or acrylic resin, something that gives a sense of transparency.
- Can you give us a specific example of which art materials are you interested in?
I recently tried using effect pigments for the first time in my work, and I like them because they polarize and create a unique texture on the painting surface.
If you mix oil color medium and effect pigments, you can turn them into oil paints, so I think it would be interesting to use them together with Vernet.
When you take a glaze on my painting, the one with effect pigments, you can tell that the transparent layer underneath shines slightly different from my other paintings.
- Last but not least, do you have any announcements or things to add-on?
I am participating in a group exhibition in Ginza, mainly held by PIGMENT TOKYO staff.
We use a variety of drawing materials, such as mineral pigments and ballpoint pens, but since we’re talking about art materials a lot, it’s my pleasure to have the opportunity to exhibit my work!
Feel free to come and say hi!
Exhibit information (now closed)
Title: 「Morning Call」
by Hisako Ueno, Atsumi Okano, Margarita Serizawa, Aya Takemoto
Place: Art Space Rashinban
Add. : 2F Kyoei Bldg., 3-5-3 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0031
Date and time: 22 February (Mon) ～ 6 March (Sat) 2021
11:00 ~ 19:00 (Last day closes at 17:00)
As we wait for the arrival of spring in the chilly winter, a wake-up call rings with the morning light streaming through the curtains. It is a “morning call” for us to wake up from a long, deep sleep and be freed from the darkness, even if it’s only meant for a moment.
This is a group exhibition by four artists who share the same spring wishes.
Each of them create their artwork from the idea of "light" and "memory" to pursue the rich possibilities of painting, and will take a unique approach to stimulate the senses and memory associated with perception itself.
We invite you to take a look at the works of Hisako Ueno, Atsumi Okano, Margarita Serizawa, and Aya Takemoto, who offer visual experiences that awaken various human senses and sensibilities in the midst of our increasingly online lives.