Natural pigments, a lab on their use in drawing

Sunday, September 29, 2019
10:00 ÷ 13:00
Galleria Nobili
Via Marsala, 4
20121 Milano (MI)

held by Federica de Luca

Natural pigments in drawing

The use of natural pigments crosses humans' history from the very beginning.
The study of vegetable and mineral colors belongs to both the Italian and the Japanese tradition. In the Rising Sun in particular, natural elements have always been widely used for the creation of colors both for artistic and for dyeing purposes. The beni 紅 (charthamus tinctorius) for example, covers a chromatic range that goes from yellow to red; the ai 藍, which is an indigo blue with many shades, is extracted from leaves of polygonum tinctorium, following a pretty complex and long ancient procedure.

Natural pigments on canvas

The traditional Japanese Nihonga painting technique adopts pigments of natural origin, whether they are of mineral (gofun, malachite, azurite...) or organic origin (curcuma, goods...); the color, which requires an animal glue, called nikawa 膠 as a binder, is layered for several times, giving slight tonal variations and characterizing this kind of painting in a very particular way.

Afterwards, in the nineteenth century, the use of synthetic pigments is spread widely, reducing the spread of natural-origin colors.

The laboratory

The workshop's main purpose is experimenting some immediately available natural pigments on paper, to emphasize our bond with nature. We will use spices like turmeric and curry, tea leaves, coffee, some types of mud and sumi 墨, the Japanese carbon ink, dried up in special molds, in its typical stick shape.

Daily use natural pigments for drawing

During the workshop, we will first present all the materials that we will use, then we'll go through the making of the pigments and the coloring session. The participants will first create a Leporello on which they will record color memories in an autumn palette. We will then work on the chromatic gradations of muted and soft colors.

Each exercise will be accompanied by a special "musical mat", to involve all the participants in an immersive experience in which the sense of smell will be stimulated too.


  • Minimum 4, maximum 10 students
  • Cost € 75, per person
  • Bring a friend! You will both receive a 15% discount on entrance fee
  • Suitable for all levels, no experience required
  • All materials supplied by the artist
  • The materials produced remain the property of the student
  • For subscriptions please write to

Cancellation and non-attendance

If the cancellation occurs:
  • 10 or more days before the course: we will refund 85% of the amount
  • 7,8,9 days before: 50% refund
  • less than 7 days or non-attendance: no refund

© Galleria Nobili - Paraventi Giapponesi - 2016 - All rights reserved    ---     Responsive web design & hosting by Reliance