Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Making Your Own Environmentally Friendly Paint!

Continuing with the theme of my previous blog What Can We Do as Artists to Reduce Our Footprint on Our Planet?, this blog will present you with options for alternative paint. If you are adventurous, have the time and want to have more control of the ingredients you use in your art-making, then this blog is for you.

Vegetable and Plants:
Cactus paint mix with water
creates a fun textures
Vegetables and plants offer a great green alternative choice for creating paint. While vegetables and plants might not hold their original color when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, they are great options for experimenting and working on the protected pages on your art sketchbook!

Here are some ideas for vegetable and plant colors:

For Red:
  • Henna 
  • Madder 
  • Rose Hips 
  • Beets 
  • Hibiscus 
  • Cherries 
  • Strawberries 
  • Cactus flower 
For Yellow and Orange:
Using environmentally friendly paint
Abstract Painting with Cactus and Tumbo
  • Turmeric Root 
  • Dandelion Flower 
  • Saffron 
  • Tumbo 
  • Girasol 
  • Ramata 
For Browns:
  • Onion Skin 
  • Walnut Shells 
  • Black Tea 
  • Coffee 
  • Paprika 
  • Marigold Flower 
  • Fig Leaves 
  • Pine Cones 
For Green:
  • Grass 
  • Spinach 
  • Leaves 
For Blue:
  • Blueberries 
  • Blackberries 
  • Red Onion Skins 
  • Indigo Leaves 
  • Woad 
If you are going to use vegetable and plants for painting purposes, you might need to do some preparation. First, collect the plant or vegetable you want to use. Second, clean it well. Wash it and dry it. Third, boil it in a pot of water for about an hour. How much water? 1 part plant or vegetable material to 8 part water. After the hour, turn it off an let it cool down. Then start testing it. With a paintbrush, test the color on a pieces of paper. Don't be afraid to experiment and create a recipe journal that documents the preparation times of each sample. You might discover, less water or more water might work best. Or you might discover than less time boiling create better colors.


Pigments are the matter that adds color to paint. Pigments derive from clay, minerals and plant life. Pigments offer vibrant colors that synthetic alternatives don't. Not all natural pigments are necessarily nontoxic that is why when purchasing pigments, read the suppliers detail information of their pigments toxicity and rise risk associated with them. Use precaution by wearing a mask and gloves to prevent you from inhaling the powers and limiting the unnecessary contact with materials when mixing them. Some pigments are more lightfast than others. The only way to find out is using test sheet. Paint on the test sheet. Then torn the page in two. Put one sheet outdoors expose to the sun. The other keep it on you sketchbook. Monitor both swatches for a couple of weeks and compare them after a couple of weeks.

Here are some options for natural pigments you can use. They sell them in powered form and they are considered safe for your health and the environment (use face mask and gloves for precaution.)

Red Ocher, Red Iron Oxide, Yellow Ochers, Green Earth, Nicosia Green Earth, Cold Green Earth, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Ochre, Caput Mortum Violet, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Burt Umber, Raw Umber, Carbon Black, Bone black Black Oxide, Titanium White, Calcium Carbonete (egg shells), Mica Powder (sparkly shine).

How to mix?
To mix your own paints, all you need is pigment, some of of glue to act as a binder and mixing bowl.

On my next blog I will be talking about different types of binders, which can be made from plants, animals or synthetic sources. Binders are what hold the paint together.

Until then, have fun creating your own paint.


Vanessa Montenegro
Vanessa's Art Studio

Copyright © 2015 Vanessa Montenegro

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