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Mesa Verde artist Gwen Sullivan uses soil pigments for painting

One of Gwen Sullivan’s favorite paintings is of a dirt road on a farm that has been in her family for generations. She made her paint using soil on the road.

Painter Gwen Sullivan, Mesa Verde National Park’s artist-in-residence from May 14-26, will use a variety of painting techniques and mediums while making oil and watercolor paint using pigments taken from soil.

The public is invited to two free presentations to learn about the technique, Mesa Verde spokeswoman Cristy Brown said in a news release. The first will be at the Mancos Public Library on May 23 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. On May 25, Sullivan will be at the Chapin Mesa Museum at Mesa Verde National Park, from 1 to 3 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to drop in.

Sullivan takes pigments from the soil at a place that is special to her, making it into paint and creating a painting of that place, Brown said. Since disturbing any part of a National Park is not allowed, she will use materials acquired outside of the park.

Sullivan will demonstrate the process of removing pigment from the soil and using it to make paint and will demonstrate how to make charcoal drawing sticks using vines and a small tin for a kiln. She will have handouts with information about paint making and directions for making charcoal drawing sticks.

Sullivan, who resides in Gilbert, South Carolina, has served as artist-in-residence at South Carolina State Parks as well as Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. She paints in oils, acrylics and watercolors. She has started a collection of pigment colors taken from soil she collects while traveling, Brown said.

Learn more at www.nps.gov/meve/getinvolved/artists_in_residence.htm and at www.mesaverde.org.

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