“This was a very good educational workshop for students of all ages and I would not hesitate to recommend further workshops with Peter to other interested groups.” Caroline Preston, Arts Education and Course Development Leader, Beaford Arts.


The Workshops are designed to allow the participants an opportunity to explore and experiment with natural and locally found earth pigments, giving an experience which may bring insights into the origins of pigments and paint making as well as a deeper relationship with our environment. A simple form of the workshop has been used with younger school and special needs groups but is equally valuable to artists of all ages, offering the possibility of field trips to discover your own local colours and spending time making your own paints and pastels or to fit in with curriculum requirements. The workshop was used by the Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon as part of their ‘Devon Rocks’ project and as part of the Appledore Arts Festival 2008. I am currently working with Beaford Arts as part of their education programme.

devon-rocks-workshop-appledore-08 instow-school-at-fremington-08 pete-ward-painting-with-earth-workshop-2

Workshop Elements

1. Painting with the Earth

Experimenting with the various ‘pigments’ and colours found in their raw state. Some of the materials can be used directly as mark making tools; some may just need water and a brush, while others need a bit more work such as crushing or scraping to produce a workable paint.

2. Making Paint and Pastels

By drying and crushing the raw materials we have a starting point for making paint. The powders produced may be mixed with linseed oil, PVA, egg yolk or other commercially available mediums to produce the paint of choice. Only by experimenting may we discern which raw materials produce one’s desired paint. Some of the materials may be directly moulded into pastels, others may require grinding and mixing with a suitable medium before moulding and drying.

3. Collecting Earth Pigments

In North Devon we are surrounded by a very rich source of minerals, coming from both the Devonian and Carboniferous geology prevalent in the region. The majority of materials found have been located through contact with local geologists or through research into the local mining history of the area. The rest has been through ‘following my nose’, picking up interesting rocks and touching the earth and cliffs to see if their colours are usable.

4. History

Some of the materials collected have been mined commercially, whether in the production of paint or as metal ores, such as ‘Bideford Black’, umber from Combe Martin and copper and iron ore from North Molton. This has lead to many historical insights into an area now virtually industrially bereft.

Peppercombe Fremington Quay Bideford Black


1. Earth Pigments; a selection of locally sourced clays, minerals and rocks are provided. (Dependent on the workshop required some pigments might be dried and ground ready for paint making.)

2. Brushes, palettes, containers and paper may be provided on request.

3. Pestles and Mortars, scraping knives and spoon mullers and glasses will be provided for paint making workshops.

4. A selection of mediums such as linseed oil, PVA and acrylic medium may be provided on request for paint making workshops. (also White Spirit for cleaning tools)

5. Trowels and containers may be needed for collection purposes, and of course environmentally sensible clothing such as wellies and waterproofs may be needed.

6. The workshop requires a suitable ‘messy’ space with access to water, work surfaces and seating.

7. Pastel Fixative for securing pigments to paper may be required.


Workshops are charged at £35/hr (minimum duration half day) + materials and expenses.

For further information or to discuss designing a workshop please contact me.