The colour red is universally known as a symbol of the principle of life because of its intensity. But red, the colour of blood and fire, also has a symbolic ambiguity that depends on whether the red is light or dark.
Light, clear red, which is intense and extroverted, belongs to the day. It is fresh and invites action by projecting its light onto the world, like an enormous and invincible sun. It attracts.

A really dark red, on the other hand, is of the night, secretive and almost introverted. It is the symbol of the mystery of life. It warns, restrains. It is the colour of the forbidden, of the lamps of the old red-light districts.

I have always thought that there was something missing in the red artists’ colours that you can buy nowadays. When you look at sunlight through a glass of red wine an infinite number of nuances of colour appear, from the deepest shades of red to a bright red that jumps out at you with the energy of a turbojet.
How can I get to a deep red which is not a dark cadmium red, a rose carmine or an imitation red cinnabar, but a rich red that feels right artistically and at the same time is more ambiguous than the simple synthetic colours that are everywhere?

It is here that red natural cinnabar comes into the picture. The largest and most important source of this mineral is in southern Spain, where it has been extracted and made into pigment since ancient times. It was used for the frescoes of Pompeii, and it was used early in the Renaissance with Lapis Lazuli and gold to create the icons of the Sienna School.

The process of extracting the mineral and transforming it into pigment was very expensive, and this is why a substitute was sought, just as alternatives have been sought for lots of other colours throughout history.
The process of producing a synthetic cinnabar red was begun in the Arab world in the 7th and 8th centuries. They mixed mercury and pulverised sulphur and heated this to 600°C, thus producing a uniform red pigment that they could use in their art.

By placing several pieces of unworked natural cinnabar crystals together and studying them under lighting conditions which ranged from bright sunlight to deep shadow, I could see how the clear red surfaces that were illuminated reflected their colours onto the surfaces of the crystals that were in shadow. This made the colours in the shadows change to a much richer, fuller red instead of being just a normal flat shadow colour.

These rich reds can be achieved by mixing pigments together. I do it simply by mixing synthetic cinnabar red (vermilion) pigment with other colours. In order to make a clean colour that can be used as both a light and a dark red, I add white, yellow, red ochre, alizarin crimson or madder, according to how warm or cold I want the red to be. Then I paint the red on top of, for example, a cold green, a lemon yellow or another colour. This brings the red alive. I never use red on red, however, as this kills it completely… 






PDF–Catalogue: Three tiger heads

I have just made a PDF-catalogue with my three new big paintings.
I call it “THREE TIGERS HEADS” –or in danish– “Tre Tigerhoveder”.
It is about my latest paintings: About 200 x 200 cm.
With very strong colors, which express the tiger’s temperament 🙂

Tre tigerhoveder. Uffe Stadil Christoffersen 2012



New Paintings

I am nearly finish with four big paintings. I have a homepage where you can see my progress. The addressee is here:

I am working really hard on a big exhibition I am going to have in October in Denmark. It is a place called  JANUS BYGNINGEN .

The Tiger and the Snake.


(click on images to enlarge)

The Tiger and the Snake. 73 x 92 cms. 2007

color inspiration


Roussillon Web Gallery








The skin of the tiger is mainly yellow ochre with white areas on the belly and head. Then there are the characteristic black tiger stripes lying in great swathes round the body. For several years I have studied the earth colour ochre, as I consider that this colour comes closest to the natural colour of the tiger’s skin.

In the great ochre pits of the south of France one can see a graet range of colour tones, stretching from the pale pink, over greenish, yellow and orange tones, to the deepest red and dark purple – caput mortuum. the word ‘ochre’ is presumed to come from the Greek ‘ochros’ i.e. pallid or pale yellow – a slightly incorrect name because of the ochre colours great strength of colour. The raw material, which is mainly of clay coloured by yellow, red or reddish brown iron [forbindelser], occurs in smaller or larger concentrations all over the world. They can vary considerably in colour – for example from the yellow or yellowish brown of Italian Terra di Sienna, to the red or reddish brown Spanish ochre. The colours can also vary greatly not only between the geographical locations, but within the individual local occurrence.

The strong sunlight which falls on the yellow or reddish yellow banks lights up brilliantly and contrasts vividly with the cerulean blue of the sky. The dark green pine trees that grow in these areas are covered in a fine ochre dust, which is constantly whirled up by the wind, so that it almost blankets the natural colour characteristics of the vegetation. But mainly it is the richness of nuances in the ochre material itself which is important and it is a great inspiration for me in my painting.

The ochre colours can in sunlight nearly compete in intensity with the synthetic yellow, orange and red colours, while in theshade they become subdued yellowish brown colours. In the same way the tiger’s golden brown skin lights up in the sun, while it can converge with the surroundings because of its combination of stripes and subdued tones. Here is indeed a contrast which suits this temperamental beast down to the ground. There is a difference between what you see and experience in nature and what you feel as a painter in front of your easel and have to convert these often contradictory ideas or feelings into pictures. You have to get inside the material itself and in that way find out what you really want to do.

The way I use earth colours is an attempt to use them as one sees and perceives them in nature in different lights. Through systematic research I have throughout the years discovered a way to compensate for the weaknesses that occur when the paint comes into the studio, in the form of a tube, from where it can be squeezed out as a brown substance on to one’s palette. At the Academy of Art in Copenhagen it was forbidden to mix the cheap earth colours with the very expensive cadmium paints. We were supposed to either paint with earth colours or the spectral colours, and not mix the two systems together.

The three well-defined earth colours I use are yellow ochre, raw Sienna and red ochre. To increase the intensity of the ochre colours they have to mixed with a related pure colour. A yellow ochre has to be mixed with a warm yellow cadmium colour, a raw Sienna has to be mixed with cadmium orange, and the red ochre with a light cadmium red. White is added in the amount you desire depending on how light the colour is to be. On the other hand a mixture of a colour with a different colour value and an ochre colour will not be suitable in this connection. Instead of increasing the ochre colour’s intensity it would transmute it into a different colour completely.

If you try to mix lemon yellow to yellow ochre, the green of the lemon yellow will dissipate the warm yellow in the ochre colour, in the same way as mixing a warm yellow cadmium colour with a red ochre will turn it into a more orange tone, and therefore change it in a different direction than was desired.

Besides this it is absolutely necessary to use the purest pigments mixed with a suitable [bindemiddel] to achieve the desired results. With these colours which stretch from being subdued and passive, on a sliding scale to being highly active, it is actually possible to paint a tiger in its different temperaments. Every stage which a wild animal can be in. Tigers fighting, playing, copulating, hunting and consuming their prey, etc. At the same time it affects oneself, so that the inner powers that control the painter’s instincts are released. They are powers of nature akin to those that control the instincts of the animal of prey.

Several years ago a French psychiatrist visited my studio. He mentioned that my tiger paintings did not actually depict animals but people.

Uffe Christoffersen




The Bull, the Tiger and the Wild Boar Hunter


The Bull, the Tiger and the Wild Boar Hunter. 73 x 92 cms. 2007

A bull had gored a tiger’s cubs to death

and the tiger was inconsolable.

A wild boar hunter said:

“What about all the young animals you have eaten?”


All 45 Tigerfables with the corresponding paintings are visible HERE>>




The Glow of the Tiger. New works

17th May – 7th October 2007

To see the works at the exhibition divided into 9 different colour groups,
click >>HERE




The Tiger and the Bull

The Tiger and the Bull. 73 x 92 cms. 2007

A tiger wanted to catch a bull.

“My dear friend, I have slaughtered a fat sheep,” he said,

“Let us share it. Come to my cave tonight.”

“Oh, yes, please,” answered the bull,

“Can I offer you some grass, my dear friend?”

All 45 Tigerfables with the corresponding paintings are visible HERE>>


The Tigress and the She-bear


The Tigress and the She-bear. 73 x 92 cms. 2007

When a mother loses her baby it is a shame.

When a tigress loses her cub,

it is definitely fate stalking her.

But look at yourself….maybe you are a tigress.


All 45 Tigerfables with the corresponding paintings are visible HERE>>

The Tiger’s Court

The Tiger’s Court. 73 x 92 cms. 2007

His Tigerous Majesty is holding court

in his cave full of stinking carcasses.

The bear holds his nose.

The monkey savours the “perfume”

The fox has a cold.

The fox survives.


All 45 Tigerfables with the corresponding paintings are visible HERE>>