Wild Ozark™

~ Rock Foraging Nature Artist & Real Estate Agent in Kingston, AR ~


An Earthy Palette for Nature Art

An Earthy Palette for Nature Art

Nature and biodiversity reigns supreme at Wild Ozark, and an earthy palette, like the one pictured below, is perfect for capturing it in a painting.

Scraping rocks with Ozark earth colors. I make nature art with an earthy palette of natural colors native to the region of the scene I'm painting.

It’s only lacking a couple of things… white and blue. I could do without the blue, but then that would mean also doing without green. But the opaque white is essential, and I haven’t found anything here in the Ozarks that will make it.

Keeping the Palette Earthy

For white, I use titanium dioxide. It’s derived from the element titanium, and I have to purchase the powder to make the paint.

Blue is a color I’ve struggled with for a while. Nothing that exists here will make a lightfast blue, although I can get beautiful shades for watercolors from Asiatic dayflower, and for both watercolor and oil from indigo. However, those will eventually fade away.

To get green for my earthy palette of oil paints, I’d been mixing indigo with a lake pigment that I make from thyme that grows in my garden. The yellow is fairly fast and will last a very long time but not indefinitely. Long enough, though. We also have earthy yellow rocks called limonite, and those will mix with blue to make an earthy green. And we also have a much earthier green from another rock that I find in the creek.

A collage of paintings from my earthy palette.

Another Rock for Blue

To make a more versatile green that will also last, I need a lightfast, stable source for blue. Recently I started researching my options. There were a couple of earthy pigments to choose from, but I decided to go with a rock – lapis lazuli. This is the blue the old Masters used, when they could afford it. Lapis has always been an expensive pigment, and it still is.

I decided to try making some paint with a purchased pigment powder. It hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, but after finally coming to the decision to do it, I’m pretty excited about it.

However, I want to keep my earthy palette earthy, so when I use the pigment, it will be modified with the colors I’m using from rocks I’ve foraged locally. And because it is so expensive, I’ll use it sparingly so that my supply of the powder lasts me a very long time. Both ON the painting matrix and on my supply shelf, it will have a longevity that I need. AND it’s still and earth pigment, if not an Ozark pigment. The paint will still be handmade, though.

A blue earth pigment for my earthy palette - lapis lazuli.
Some low-grade lapis from Afghanistan that my husband sent me from his days of doing military contract work out there.

A Little About My Paint-making Process

Since my paints are handmade and (mostly) locally foraged, I have to make sure I have the colors I need before I begin a project. If it’s a plant pigment, then I’ll need to harvest the plant and process it to make the pigment. The only plant sources I use at this time are thyme, and the root bark of Osage trees. The rest comes from foraged rocks, soot, bone, or purchased lapis and titanium dioxide powder.

Here’s a blog post I made earlier about making oil paints:

So, if it’s a rock, then I’ll break it to smaller pieces, then crush it as finely as I can. The crushed rock is the raw pigment. After that I put the powder into a jar and fill the jar with water. Depending on the source rock, I’ll either pour off the colored water into another jar to let it settle, or pour the rinse water out and keep the sediment for the paint. After the water clarifies and the pigment has settled, then I pour off the clear water and let the sediment dry. That is what I’ll make the paint from.

When it comes to plants, there’s more chemistry involved. I’ll make what is called a ‘lake’ pigment. Here’s a post that gives more information on that process.

I hope you love this earthy palette of color as much as I do! Thanks for reading ~ Madison

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