Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 27, 2001 - Issue 28



Earth Pigment Painting


Awatovi Mural by Pablita Velarde

Pablita Velarde, from Santa Clara Pueblo, has taken her love of the soil and mixed it with the traditions, of her people, to create a type of art called earth pigment painting. This painting is an example of Ms Velarde's work. You can make your own earth pigment paintings by following these easy instructions:


  • eye droppers;
  • contrasting colors of dirt or other materials that can be ground into a fine powder;
  • large, hand-sized rocks for crushing materials into a fine powder;
  • water;
  • white glue;
  • 12 muffin tins (for use by one to four students);
  • paint brushes;
  • sturdy paper, card stock or tag board on which to paint;
  • pencils;
  • newsprint/newspaper

Recipe for earth pigments

  • 1 part powdered earth
  • 1 part white glue
  • a few drops of water
  • Mix dirt with water to make a stiff paste.
  • Add glue.


  1. Model mixing earth pigments to students. Note: the most common mistake is adding too much water. Using an eye dropper helps to eliminate this problem.
  2. Fold a piece of newsprint into quarters.
  3. Draw a simple design that you might want to paint in earth pigments in each quarter.
  4. Choose one of your designs.
  5. Draw the design you chose on the sturdy paper.
  6. Paint. Remember, it takes several coats. When the first one is dry, paint over it. When you have enough coats it will have a velvety look.
  7. Clean the brush as soon as you finish. Warm water works best.



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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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