I've already tried ashes as a textural component in acrylic painting [blog here], to take it a step further I've been itching to try making natural pigments to create watercolour paints using materials and plants from the garden or local fields. Thing is, I use watercolour in liquid form so my own experiments are not quite as instructions seem to be online. I believe most of those refer to watercolour pans which are small, solid dried blocks.
Being outside is keeping me sane this week. I'm not going to lie, I'm struggling with fatigue and my body is aching all over. A few days ago I downed mouse and defiantly went outside with cushions and blankets where I lay for a good hour and a half on the lawn in full sunshine. This isn't like me. I've never liked being in full sunlight, but even as my black dungarees felt they were baking onto my legs, I stayed still and absorbed the goodness of those rays warming my bones and muscles.
Popping out yesterday, in much colder wind (the week has been warm spring mixed with frost and snow showers), I picked the remnants of spent daffodils, primroses and bits of dead moss I've been raking off the usually waterlogged lawn. Raking has been a deliberate attempt to keep me outside for longer while giving me physically exercise. Anyway, with meagre gatherings and stalks from beetroot I needed to use up, I searched for the pan I used to use for soapmaking and boiled up the daffodils.
After only twenty minutes or so I poured the mixtures into separate small jars realising I probably diluted too far. The hues are subtle, but sometimes you can't tell with the usual inks, so it's a worthy start.
Today, armed with a new watercolour pad (I'm back on Smooth Hot Pressed), I sat out for a couple of hours mixing the liquid pigments with a dab of liquid Gum Arabic as a binder. On paper, the initial colours came out soft and delicate: a lovely rose pink (as you would expect from beetroot) and lemon yellow from the daffs. They mix together with interesting effects too, though of course as they dry those shades fade out. Interestingly, in another pot I mixed Crimson Acrylic Ink with a spot of Gold Ochre watercolour, which was a vivid red when applied with orangey streaks, however it has since dried to a sepia tinge.
Looking at the paintings indoors now, fully dry, the lemon yellow is distinct, as is the beetroot, it's the Crimson and Gold mix that seem very different to how I applied them. Isn't that unexpected! I was sure the homemade concoction wouldn't stand the sunlight or dry to be still recognisable.
Result? Well worth further dabbling and delving into other natural sources. The garden is my palette!
For updates on my work and a monthly freebie (free digital art) sign up to my newsletter, they tend to go out at the end of each month 🙂