dirt paintings

I have been experimenting with natural pigments ever since I got the book Green Guide for Artists by Karen Michel. It's a guide to making your own paints with a focus on sustainability and nontoxic materials. It included a recipe for egg tempera which seemed easy enough, combine one part egg yolk to one part pigment, mix well, then add water to get the thickness you want. I was a bit apprehensive as to how well it would hold up but it was used for centuries and many of the paintings in the museums, such as ones done by Michelangelo, still look just fine!

This painting was my first- I just used whatever I had around the house for pigments: paprika, green clay, charcoal powder, henna, dirt, curry powder. The green clay and charcoal went on the smoothest because they're the finest ground, but I like the texture the rougher pigments make. Once it dried there was no egg smell and it doesn't scratch off.

Here's a bit of a close up- black is charcoal and the red is the paprika.

My second painting was done on a mdf panel. I really prefer the wood to the canvas- much smoother texture. This time I tried to make my own gesso which had a bit of a learning curve but turned out great!  I got some regular chalk, ground it up, and mixed it with water and gelatin- it takes a lot of chalk to make it come out right and it's still watery but once it dries there's good coverage. Gives it a neat slightly powdery feel.

I'm really liking working with these paints. I love being involved from the beginning and the fact that they're all natural materials.When I paint with them I feel more connected with the earth and so it should be a really interesting path to explore. Besides now I have an excuse to dig up dirt everywhere I go to look for new colors haha!


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