Natural Pigments


In this project we have to make watercolours using natural materials and gum arabic. For this studio project, I’m using Turmeric Powder, Red Chili Powder, Chai, Blueberries, and Raspberries. I’m using gum arabic liquid and steps mentioned in the tutorial video to create these pigments.


Synthetic inks and dyes are cheaper, good quality, and are often readily available. The Times of India, the largest newspaper of India, did a piece on New Delhi’s Shiv Vihar and dubbed it as Cancer Colony as it has the highest cancer rates in Delhi. TOI found out that illegal synthetic fabric dyeing units were making the groundwater toxic, increasing cancer cases, and was responsible for the pungent smell of the area. Shiv Vihar has now become a cautionary tale in New Delhi, authorities have started raiding these units. 

The benefits of natural dyes are that they don’t create toxic waste, hence the pollution is minimal. They also don’t cause harmful skin disorders, pulmonary diseases, and cancer. Natural dyes doesn’t harm the ecosystem, whereas synthetic dyes kill the plants, bacterias, and fishes living in water bodies. It is important to use natural materials because Earth has reached a point, from which we might never recover. Using natural materials is an act of sustainability as it has little or no pollution, it has no side effects, and can get decomposed easily.

Process Work

Required Materials

Making Natural Pigments

Day 1 colours dried overnight and I have applied fresh colours on Day 2.

Day 2 colours dried overnight and now I have applied Day 3 colours. You can see some blueberry got mixed with chai.

Final image obtained on Day 4. To avoid mixing of colours, I had to apply them over a large surface area.

Learning Outcomes

  1. I used Turmeric, Red Chili, Chai, Blueberries, and Raspberries to make these natural pigments.
  2. I feel like natural pigments have a different texture and have lighter intensity of colour.
  3. I expect that the colors will change over a period of few week as I remember press flowers and leaves inside heavy books used to change their color. I expect them to turn slightly darker or change their tint.
  4. It was fun to make natural watercolours and I would love to mix and experiment with them.
  5. I liked the texture of Turmeric and Red Chili powder as they made a nice thick paste which felt like acrylic paint.
  6. I didn’t had a strainer so the paints have a rough texture. Next time I’ll filter them out with a strainer. But in case if Chai, I really liked the radial gradient effect as colour near the tea leaves went from darker to lighter shade.

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