Painting with Soil and Plants

How many colors can we find in the soil? How about the leaves and flowers?

The workshop we hosted this past Saturday guided participants to carefully and mindfully find answers to these questions using their own creativity and awareness of nature in the garden.

The participants crouched and peeked their way through our small urban garden in Osaka’s Kitakagaya neighborhood, making color directly with the soil and plant materials that they found.

Participants in the Final Straw's Soil Art workshop in Osaka, Japan

Participants in the Final Straw’s Soil Art workshop in Osaka, Japan

In each square foot of soil, there are billions of individual living beings. These microbial lives, bug lives, and plant lives work in relative symbiosis together towards mutual growth; along the way they help give color both to the soil and to the plants that grow within it.

On Saturday we entered into a new kind of relationship with soil and plants, asking these living materials to lend us their color so that we could help discover and share the beauty of the natural world in new ways.

Participant in the Final Straw's Soil Art workshop uses soil and flowers to create a color chart in Osaka, Japan

Workshop participant Mayu uses soil and flowers to create a color chart in Osaka, Japan

One of the local participants, Mayu told us that she always thought of plants and flowers as beautiful, but during the workshop she realized how beautiful the soil is too. Her painting gave soil the central role, showing a dream land of blooming soil flowers planted in a colored flower ground.

Friend and co-coordinator, Kaori gave us an observation about how the plants respond to our intentions; based on how we handle a flower or leaf the colors may come out different, and not just different shades, but completely different colors altogether.

A industrial design student from Thailand named Put, was so inspired by working directly with the soil and plants that he is considering building his thesis project around it as a theme.

Some of the final pieces made during the workshop with plant and soil material.

Some of the final pieces made during the workshop with plant and soil material.

The array of color and feeling is beyond what anyone in the workshop thought was possible. Even Suhee and I were surprised, both at the colors, and the deep ideas and works from participants which resonated with everyone.

Soil Art Workshop participants in Osaka, Japan

Soil Art Workshop participants in Osaka, Japan

We want to give a big thank you again, to our friends in Japan who helped make this project possible, our coordinators Kaori, Ikumasa, and Yasutaka; and to Miss Ogata and the Chishima Foundation for their kind financial support.

We have more workshops coming for the next three Saturdays, all starting at 10am! Join us if you’re in the Osaka area! More information in English and Japanese.

Until then have a look at the rest of the images from the event below!

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3 Comments on “Painting with Soil and Plants

  1. I am interested in hearing more about any other workshops or studies carried out painting with plant and earth pigments. I have been painting with plants in the UK and would like to share further knowledge.

  2. Hello,

    Thank you that’s great! Good Luck with your work in Asia. You are doing really interesting work,

    Best Wishes,

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