Thursday, April 27, 2006

Provence, Making Watercolor Paint

I work part-time in a pigment store in Soho, so seeing earth colored rocks in Roussillon, was thrilling. Most artists don’t know where paint comes from. The art store? The Winsor & Newton factory? Not for earth colors.

Roussillon is a Grand Canyon of Ochres, Siennas, Umbers. And the whole hill top town is painted in these warm colors. Where ever you walk on the Okhra grounds signs are posted
The rust-colored pepples are potential paint. Don't look too carefully in the top picture.

France has an environmental association that protects earth colors! 

They publish little booklets you can pick up at the Louvre on Burnt Sienna. Did you know Burnt Sienna is basically cooked Raw Sienna. The pigmented rocks are stacked in a big oven and roasted until they change color.

Making paint is a lot like cooking - a tablespoon of Burnt Sienna pigment, a teaspoon of honey, a bit of Gum Arabic sap from the Acacia tree (used in those candy red fishes too), + some distilled water. Et voilà you have DIY watercolor paint.

More about the Roussillon café later.


  1. these colors swirl around the area like mixed paint! Enchanting place isn't it?

  2. Ah, Roussillon I could have spent the entire week there easily. They had to drag me away :(

  3. the charming place does hold ones imagination!!

  4. so, in making not only the colour but the texture you have complete influence on the outcome?

    You are a "bookaholic" too. Do you like "Shakespeares Books" in Paris?

  5. Anonymous1:32 PM

    Carol, terresetcouleurs is a good site, thanks. For answers about colors, I like to visit

  6. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Roussillon was one of the most scenic village I visited last summer in Provence region. The colors are just amazing.


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