Soil Paint Tutorial Part A

Soil Paint Tutorial

Part A (the recording stopped midway for some reason, so there are 2 parts)

NB -  this tutorial was originally part of a larger project, so there will be references to that. However, everything you need to know about making paint from soil is included here. (To see some examples of my artworks as mentioned in the video, please go to Part D.)


a. Collect about 1 cup each of dirt from various places around your garden and/or your near neighbours, the street verge or even your pot plants! Look for variations in colour, as different areas might offer more variety than you think.

b. Spread out your soils in separate piles on newspapers until completely dry (at least a day, or more depending on the weather).

c. Sieve each soil sample with a mesh strainer several times until you have a very fine mixture. Use an old spoon to push through as much as you can and discard the rest.

d. In a mortar and pestle, mix about a teaspoon of sieved soil with soy milk (organic or homemade) until creamy, again with an old spoon. Then grind with the pestle to as fine a consistency as you can. We want a textured paint but not too gritty.

e. Cut some small sample papers (the same type as your pre-cut background squares); about 10 cm x 10 cm (4 in x 4 in). Use these to experiment with your soil paint. Experiment with a variety of brush sizes and start with the creamy consistency you’ve made, then thin further with soy milk and/or water to vary the shades of colour.

f. Try different shapes and patterns, stippling, stripes, and so on.

g. When you feel ready, paint sections of your prepared larger backgrounds. Leave some space so you can add other elements later, or paint the whole surface, varying the textures and thickness of paint. Mix up some more paint if you need to, using the same method as before.

h. After your soil paint is completely dry, bush or sand lightly to remove any loose particles. Then seal with thinned PVA glue (about half and half with water).


      A natural spray fixative is available called Spectrafix – it is made with non-toxic natural ingredients and is based on the recipe invented by the artist Edgar Degas.

      PVA glue works well for sealing your work if it is thinned down with water (half and half). It doesn’t smell, and it is archival.

      Shellac when mixed with methylated spirits is also a useful sealer, and gives a vintage look. 

      Go to Soil Paint Tutorial Part B.

      (c) Rita Summers



      We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we operate in northern Tasmania. We would also like to pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.