Using Earth Pigments in Art
Robert Eady, Earth Art Teacher

Familiar places and spaces can seem ordinary. An earth palette process of extracting ochres and making pigments can help us to realize how the ordinary is quite extraordinary. Exploring the familiar deepens appreciation and engenders a love for a place. Love that can create a desire to protect seemingly “ordinary” spaces and places. What can hardly be more satisfying than the love of creative expression with materials of your own discovery!

While sheltering-in-place at home, Conserve School students took the opportunity to explore the process of making some homemade watercolor paint by collecting soils in their backyard or nearby, extracting the ochres, and turning the natural pigment into watercolors. Previously, we sent paints made from soil from here at Conserve School and another from a Georgia clay, contributed by an alum. Then, using their personal “earth palettes” of watercolor paints, students created watercolor paintings made mostly with natural colors from locally collected materials. Earth pigments otherwise referred to as “ochres,” are possibly the most permanent of all colors. They have been associated with symbolic representation and visual art for at least 100,000 years. Below you will find some of the finished paintings from this project: 


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