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how to make paint from nature? Answered

my sister is a big artist and she wants to know how to make paint from just outdoorsey stuff. anyone got any ideas?


Reminder: Plant-based pigments tend to fade over time, especially when exposed to ultraviolet light (including sunlignt). Mineral-based pigments may last longer. The reason New England barns were most often reddish or greenish was that rust or copper oxide were cheap and widely available to mix into the (usually milk-based) paint. As mentioned above, black generally used carbon black (soot), and of course "whitewash" is just a matter of not adding pigment to the milk paint. Pastel versions of these colors were also common, since that's just a matter of adding less pigment -- believe it or not, pink really is a very traditional house-paint color. Of course artists have used many other materials either as the paint base or as pigments, with varying degrees of success. I agree with the suggestion to look at a book or two on art history. If you have any trouble finding the information, ask a reference librarian to help you; they _love_ an excuse to go hunting for interesting facts.

actually I think you'll find whitewash is in fact a lime mix. I have a recipe in an old book - it involves mixing unslaked lime (!!!CAUTION!!!) with water and fat. I don't think just using a milk base will leave you with anything other than an unpleasant smell!

Hm. Milk based paints are certainly classic (and, as I say, are still available), but I can't vouch for other ingredients therein; haven't bothered websearching since I'd rather buy.

some years ago I had a go at making house/barn paint in Finland. It consisted of linseed oil, red ochre, milk (and I think) flour. Guess what, I can't remember where I wrote it down. But it did require boiling overnight. Pigments are probably the tricky bit, you could try drying some earth and see what you ended up with- you need to remove the organic compounds by heating or cooking them out- this may change the colour of the earth. For artists colours (made on a smaller scale) Lamp black for black, white lead for white, indigo was a plant die (from woad), ochres and umbers were earth colours and some were from metals (like the white) There are a number of colours obtainable for dying cloth from plants and lichens, so perhaps this would be a good place to start? Don't know if you could transfer these colours to a paint medium though.

Berries. And mushrooms mixed with water.

Best I can say is head to the art section of your library and start digging. Painters used to make their own paints, even gathering most of the ingredients themselves. I'm sure someone has written a book on the subject of natural pigments. Keep in mind two things: -This was a looong time ago, and many of the skills just may be forgotten. -You'll be limited to a color palette based on what pigments are available in your area. There were some pigments that simply weren't discovered until chemists began making them.

Pigments were usually colours of earth, like Yellow Ochre or Terre Verte, or the colour Lamp Black? Made from candle soot. Ivory Black? Made of charred ivory (though bone suffices for poor painters).
It will probably be hard to get an earth colour to respond well, as the colours we have now are based on the tones of specific areas of earth, because the distribution of the correct minerals is not equal on the planet (Terre Verte used to come from only one village in the South of France). I recommend your sister to experimant widely with earth/mud,flowers, grass, leaves and especially berries. Brambles stain your t shirt but they will also stain a canvas.

Oils such as raw linseed oil were used as a medium for various powdered pigments.
Other media used to carry pigment typically were egg tempera and fresco plaster in the Renaissance. If needed, you could probably find a good amount of information on these two on the Net, as could you for making your own charcoal sticks (though silverpoint is beyond easy reach, as is pencil making). If not, I can supply Instructables on the subject, though I doubt it's necessary.

Anyway, sorry for the essay, feel free to ask me to explain any bits I was confusing in, and good luck!