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Plant pigments have been used for thousands of years to make paint. I've always been fascinated by the stories of colours, when they were first used and how they evolved into the paints we squeeze out of a tube. There is something really magical about the process from plant to palette. Do you love plants, colour, and exploring your creativity? Join me for a new creative workshop at Chelsea Physic Garden and make your own watercolour paints with plants. It's a combination of nature study and play. You'll discover some unusual and exciting ways to make colours, and use them to make expressive botanical painting.Chelsea Physic Garden is the second oldest botanic garden in Britain, and a gorgeous oasis of calm in the city. It's one of my favourite places in London and I'm so excited to be collaborating with them!Last week I shared some paint making techniques with my friends Julian and Penny. Julian is an experienced painter (he taught me at art college years ago!) and Penny is less experienced but loves art and craft projects. They picked a posy from the garden, and a big bunch of grass from the lawn for the first batch of paint.
We put the grass into a mixing bowl with a cup of water, then blended them to a pulp with a hand held blender. We also made a pulp using red cabbage, the perfect vegetable to make blue paint!
Next we mixed artists pigments of indigo, stil de grain (made with buckthorn berries) and rose madder, from the rose madder plant root. We used with a glass muller and glass plate to grind the pigments to a fine powder then added gum arabic (from the acacia tree). The plate and underside of the muller have a rough texture, creating an abrasive surface on which to grind down gritty pigments. When they become a fine powder they can be mixed with gum arabic to use for painting. After an indigo mix, Julian lifted the muller to discover a beautiful fern-like pattern underneath!
We also used plant extracts to make a weld yellow, brazil wood red, and another blue with mallow flowers. With these essential colours we mixed a few new ones to make a gorgeous palette ready for painting.
Julian and Penny said it was 'an incredibly soothing and magical day!'
We'll be practicing these techniques and more at Chelsea Physic Garden on Sunday 18th August. It's a one day event from 10am till 4pm, including all materials, refreshments and lunch. There will also be time to enjoy the gadens at your leisure.
A huge thank you to Cornelissen & Son for sponsoring this workshop.
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