The Oystercatcher and the Pearl Feather

Ian Boyden

Walla Walla, Washington: Crab Quill Press, 2006

collection of Reed College


In 2005, I travelled to China. During this trip I went in search of a pigment called pearl white. The pigment is made from ground freshwater pearls and is one of the classic whites of the Chinese painting tradition.  It was not available in any of the art supply stores, having been completely replaced by titanium white.  Ultimately, I discovered a source for this pigment and brought several bags of it home.  I made many paintings with this pigment as well as this unique book titled The Oystercatcher and the Pearl Feather.  The book presents an exploration of the pearl both as a pigment for painting and as an evocative material of the imagination. The sequence of paintings is preceded by a short mythopoetic essay that considers the alchemical symbiosis of the oystercatcher, the oyster, and the pearl. 


See more images of this book here.


Read the essay here.