Saturday, November 7, 2015

Painting with Natural Ingredients and Brushes

Five weeks ago I began teaching a series of private art classes to a small group of girls in Scarsdale, NY. Our theme was Native Americans and each art class was inspired by the Native American Culture. Today we made dyes and brushes using natural ingredients and materials. The Native Americans were innovative and worked with the materials they found in their environment. If they wanted to paint with a brush or dye cloth they had to make the brushes and dye. Today we went back in time and used similar methods to make our own natural paint brushes and dyes. I wish that the dyes had been stronger so that the girl's paintings were more vibrant, but realize that the process is often more important than the end result. 

These natural materials were used to make brushes. The girls gathered the feathers and leaves by the stem and used masking tape to secure them to the stick.

This is one of the brushes we made using leaves.

We put strawberries in a strainer and mashed them with our fists to extract strawberry juice. A bowl beneath the strainer collected all the pink liquid from the strawberries.

Beets and stems were placed in a bowl with hot water to create a pink natural dye.

Earth mixed with hot water create brown dye.

Onion skins mixed with hot water create a peach colored dye. The skins should sit in the hot water for a long time to achieve a strong color.

Beets create a strong pink color very quickly.

We used lots of big and little clear glass bowls. All the children had fun making their own set of dyes. The large bowl furthest away is tea in hot water. The large mixing bowl a little closer to us to the left are onion skins in hot water. The large mixing bowl to he right is pink strawberry dye. The two small bowls closest to us are beets (L) and earth (R). 

Although the dyes were very weak the children had fun using them with their home made paint brushes. We later switched to conventional brushes to see if there was a difference. The children liked using both brushes.