Covehithe Ochres and Gissing Whites: Hand-Made Paints from Foraged Pigment

If you think you received this blog yesterday, well, you did. A version of it without many of the images as I was having problems downloading photos from my iPhone onto my computer. I sorted out the problem – with much gnashing of teeth – and so was able to add more images.  I’ve added to the text, so read on.

First, an uplifting and pithy quote. I can’t agree with it completely, but it’s a good attitude to adopt, even so:

Grinding Pigment into ‘Gissing White’

“Life is a grindstone. Whether it grinds us down or polishes us up depends on us.”   Thomas Holcroft  

Covehithe Ochre, Gissing White. These are names I’ve given to two watercolour paints I’ve hand-made recently from foraged pigments.

Covehithe Ochre in the Making Process

As well as Covehithe Ochre I’ve made Wells Ochre from material gathered from the cliffs at Wells-Next-The-Sea and is slightly lighter in tone.

Little pot of Gissing White Watercolour Paint

I made Gissing White from chalk foraged from a village near where I live.

The first picture shows it in the process of being ground to a fine powder with the addition of Gum Arabic and honey. These ingredients bind the pigment.

Nugget of Variegated Covehithe Ochre Pigment

It’s not as beige as in the first picture, more an almost-white pinky-beige. It would have been lighter still had I used Acacia honey as recommended in the recipe, but I only had some very dark forest honey to hand.

Close-up Showing the Variegations of Pigment in Covehithe Ochre

I’ll have some of the lighter honey later today and am hoping I’ll end up having created Gissing White and Gissing White (Light).

Wells Ochre: Ochre from Pigment Foraged From Wells-Next-the Sea and is slightly lighter in tone than Covehithe Ochre

I’m going to make some gouaches soon using these same foraged pigments (I have small bucketfuls of each) which will mean the addition of glycerine.

And I’ll be trying to make some burnt colours from my pigment harvest by oxidising some of it, using sunlight. That will probably be next year. We are now in the depths of autumn approaching winter. Today is typically autumn; it’s 2pm as I write and it’s dark, damp and shrouded in mist outside. It suits my mood.

Covehithe Brown in the Making Process

I also made some Covehithe Brown from darker pigmentation gathered from the beach.

Using and making paints ground from locally gathered pigment makes artworks more authentic. It makes me feel more engaged with my own natural surroundings. And artwork. I’ll be posting pictures soon of how I’m using the paint.

I’m lucky to be living where I am and my next foraging expedition will be to Hunstanton, whose cliffs and beach are known for its pigmentations and fossils.

Here‘s a picture of Hunstanton cliffs and beach. I could eat them.

Grateful thanks for the photo to  John Wernham.


For the paint-making processes, I acknowledge artist Debbie Lyddon and Earth Pigments.





About AnnIsikArts

Artist/Writer/Chess Enthusiast/Musician (Singer)/Gardener
This entry was posted in Art. Bookmark the permalink.

Share your light here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.