Painting With Soil
“To gain a deeper appreciation of soils -- one of our most important natural
Soils are one of our most important natural resources. They also are
important for the beauty their many colors add to our landscapes.
Most of us overlook this natural beauty because we see it every day.
Often these colors blend with vegetation, sky, water, etc. Soil
colors serve as pigments in bricks and pottery.
If you look at the works of many of the great artists, you will notice that
“earth colors” are dominant. The color and texture of soil painting is
fascinating and a creative opportunity for all ages of students.
soil (dried in air)
mortar and pestle (rubber-tipped)
paper cups (4 oz.)
ink pens (black, different tip sizes)
paint brushes (different kinds and sizes)
artist acrylic (clear gloss medium)
sponges and rags
water color paper
- Gather soils of various colors.
- Place each dried soil sample on a piece of paper and crush into pieces
with hammer or mallet. (Figure, Step 1a)
- Place some of the crushed soil into a mortar. Use a
rubber-tipped pestle to crush the soil into a fine powder. Repeat to
crush all of the different colored soils. (Figure, Step 1b)
- Place the different soils in paper cups -- notice the colors and
- Lightly sketch art work on water color paper with a pencil. When
satisfied with composition, use ink for permanent lines.
- With masking tape, carefully tape paper edges to table or board.
This is done so that the art work will dry flat.
(Figure, Step 1c)
- Pour small amounts of artist acrylic in small paper cups. Add small
amounts of soil. Experiment with depth of color and mixing the different
- Use different sizes and kinds of paint brushes, sponges, and rags.
Experiment and have fun.
- Layering colors. When your art work is dry, you may apply another
layer of soil paint.
- You may want to use a black ink pen to make finishing touches on your
The estimated time is about 1 hour.
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