Visit 3 local wineries in September 2022

Painting with Earth & Mineral Pigments

Oct 29, 2023 | nature art

Unveiling the Beauty of Tradition

Crafting Earth and Mineral Pigment Watercolour Paint with Gum Arabic Binder.

Colours have always been the silent storytellers of our world. From the ochre hues of ancient cave paintings to the vibrant landscapes of the Impressionists, the art of painting has evolved, yet the essence of colour remains constant. In this age of technology and synthetic materials, there’s a growing interest in returning to traditional methods of art creation. One such method is crafting watercolour paint using earth and mineral pigments, bound together with the ancient natural binder medium, gum Arabic.

The Dance of Earth and Mineral Pigments: An Artisan’s Palette

Imagine holding in your hands a piece of raw sienna, a chunk of ochre, or a fragment of lapis lazuli. These are not just minerals; they are fragments of the earth’s history. Earth and mineral pigments have been used for centuries by artists to create colours that evoke a sense of timelessness and connection to the natural world.

To start your journey into making traditional watercolour paint, you’ll need a selection of earth and mineral pigments. These pigments come in a wide range of colours – from warm reds and yellows to deep blues and greens. Some common pigments include raw sienna, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, red ochre, umber, and lapis lazuli. These pigments are derived from natural minerals and clays, each with its unique tone and character.

Gum arabic exuding from Acacia nilotica
Image Courtesy of By Ashwin Baindur

Gum Arabic: The Ancient Binder

Gum arabic, also known as acacia gum, is a natural resin harvested from a species of acacia tree. This ancient binder has been used in art and various applications for centuries due to its adhesive and emulsifying properties. In the realm of watercolour painting, gum arabic acts as the bridge between pigment and paper. It binds the pigment particles together and ensures they adhere to the painting surface.

Crafting Your Own Earth and Mineral Pigment Watercolour Paint

Creating your watercolour paint using earth and mineral pigments is a rewarding and meditative process. Here’s a basic guide to get you started:


  • Earth and mineral pigments of your choice
  • Gum Arabic powder or crystals
  • Oil of clove and or honey
    (preservative a mould inhibitor)
  • Water
  • Empty watercolour pans or small containers
  • Glass slab or palette
  • Watercolour brushes
  • Watercolour paper


PREPARE YOUR PIGMENTS: Start by selecting the pigments you want to work with. If they are in raw form, grind them into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle. Another method is to wash the pigments out from the grit or sand. Drain water as pigment settles and allow the water to evaporate.

MIXING THE BINDER: Dissolve gum arabic powder or crystals in water to create a gum solution. The ratio of gum arabic to water can vary, but a common starting point is about 1 part gum arabic to 2 parts water. Adjust as needed for your desired consistency.

CREATING THE PAINT: On your glass slab or palette, mix the pigment with the gum arabic solution adding a drop of honey or oil of clove. Gradually add the solution and mix until you achieve a creamy, paint-like consistency. Test the paint’s transparency and colour on a piece of watercolour paper.

FILLING THE PANS: Carefully transfer your mixed paint into empty watercolour pans or small containers. Smooth the surface for an even finish.

DRYING AND STORING: Allow the pans to dry naturally. This process might take a few days to a week, depending on the humidity of your environment. Once dry, your homemade earth and mineral pigment watercolour paint is ready to be used.

Embracing Tradition and Creativity

Crafting your own watercolour paint using earth and mineral pigments and gum arabic as a binder is not just an artistic endeavour; it’s a connection to history, nature, and the very essence of creation. As you mix the pigments and bind them with gum arabic, you’re not just making paint; you’re participating in a tradition that spans centuries.

Embrace the unpredictability of natural pigments, the subtle variations in hue, and the tactile sensation of working with your hands. Let your creativity flow as you apply these colours to paper, telling your own story through the timeless medium of watercolour.

So, the next time you dip your brush into a pan of your handcrafted paint, remember that you’re carrying forward a legacy of artistic expression that dates back to ancient civilisations. And as you create, let the harmony of earth, minerals, and gum arabic guide your artistic journey.

In a world of modern conveniences, there’s a certain magic in rekindling the old ways, in crafting beauty from the simplest of elements. Through earth and mineral pigments and gum arabic, you’re not just making art; you’re making history.

by Mo Riggs of Mocean Art

Copyright © 2023 Mocean Art By Mo Riggs – All Rights Reserved

Learn More about our Off Grid Expo HERE   |   Buy your tickets for EXPO Here

Event Organisers:
Dee White: – 0434 630 510
Di Woodstock: – 0419 224 628

Event Organisers

Dee White
0434 630 510

Di Woodstock
0419 224 628