Over the last couple of years I’ve started to introduce handmade pigments from natural sources into my palette.  I love this part of the process and it’s a feature I’ll be concentrating on more going forward. 

I’m more inspired by stormy and angry looking clouds than blue skies so I take a lot of photos to use in the studio as reference rather than braving plein air – it’s not for me! I’m always cold.  Using the rocks from the coastline has helped me keep a connection to the landscape back in my cosy warm studio.

I choose around 4 or 5 rocks from a location. I test the colour by rubbing them on a harder rock, a good pigment will act almost like a pastel.

After I’ve broken the rock down with a hammer, the next step is to use a mortar and pestle to grind it down till it resembles a fine  sand texture.

 I then use water and a process of levigation where the pigment separates from the larger sediment particles which sink to the bottom.

Finally, I dry it out to a powder form for storage. When I’m ready to paint, I then mix the powder with a binder using a palette knife and a glass muller. 

When I’m using acrylics, I paint my seas and skies with paint from the tube before I move on to mixing up the rock pigment with an acrylic binder.

I also use the pigment to make watercolour pans using all natural ingredients. The binder is a mixture of gum arabic, honey and clove oil.