M’CHIGEENG—Beam Paints, a business operated by Anong Beam in M’Chigeeng First Nation, has been featured in two major magazines recently.
“We’ve been in the press quite a bit recently,” stated Ms. Beam. “Our products are included in a gift guide in Vogue Knitting (Winter 2021/22) magazine, and in the November issue of Chatelaine Magazine’s “60 Made-in-Canada Gifts for Everyone on Your List?”
In the Vogue Knitting magazine “Moving the needle. Our Latest Obsessions-Treasures Inspired by Nature’s Infinite Variety,” shows a picture of a Beam Paints paint palette with the message, “handcrafted rafted paints made with Manitoulin honey. Sustainably produced within M’Chigeeng First Nation, on Manitoulin Island beampaints.com”
And in the Chatelaine Magazine, there is also a picture of the Beam Paints palette with the caption, “swap basic paints for a small-batch alternative made from Manitoulin honey, wildcrafted tree sap and high-quality pigments.”
Ms. Beam strives to use healthy, sustainable ingredients in her paints, like honey from the land itself and her paints exceed Health Canada safety requirement by three times. Traditional Western made paints are very plastic and disposable.
Her parents, Carl and Ann Beam, were both full-time artists. Her late father Carl Beam made history in 1986 when his work was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada, the first for a contemporary First Nations artist, and paved the way for generations of First Nations artists after him.
“I learned how to collect pigments and make paint this way from my dad,” said Ms. Beam. “All the paint colours have honey, wildcrafted tree sap, and high-quality pigments.”
“I started the business in 2017 and things got really busy for us in 2018,” continued Ms. Beam. “I work with Corbiere Lumber which makes all the wood pallets for the paints.”
“Beam Paints is the result of a multi-generation love of pigment, paint, colour and innovation,” says a Beam Paints brochure. Ms. Beam explained, “I was raised by my artist parents, Carl Beam and Ann Beam, and was taught from a young age how to harvest hematite pigment in the LaCloche mountain range near our home in M’Chigeeng First Nation. Beam Paints draws on my early educations in Indigenous pigment and expands it to encompass all paint traditions. A focus on high quality pigment content creates sublime artist materials, with plastic-free packaging.”
“Lightfast pigments, tree sap, gum Arabic, and Manitoulin honey blend together to create a handmade saturated colour that is a joy to paint with,” continued the Beam Paints brochure. “From thick stripes to fine washes and details, quality is evident in every stroke. Our watercolours are shaped into paintstones, our version of a half-pan, before being wrapped in beeswax canvas. Our pans are packaged in slices of cedar and birch offcuts from an Indigenous sustainable lumber operation.”
“I learned how to collect pigment with my father in the La Cloche mountain range close to home,” explained Ms. Beam in a Snapline 2019 edition profile story. “He taught me how our ancestors made paint to make “mizzins,” designs on a rock face with hematite to share their histories, proud moments, and cautions. Now, in my adult life, I have returned to this practice with children of my own, experiencing making paint and colour with them. I have given myself the authority of my experience, and as a paint maker I have decided to name all my colours in my own language. The act of paint making has continued to be a powerful shamanic act for myself as I learned it from my father and now as I share it with other artists.”
Ms. Beam pointed out Beam Paints “is also looking at launching house paints that are plastic free, in the new year.”
The Beam Paints palette is available in 150 retail outlets in Canada, the US and the United Kingdom.