Last week we had some peaceful family R&R time away, taking advantage of the Easter break. We really wanted to go to the beach, but if you don’t get in quick in the holiday period all the nice, affordable accommodation gets snapped up by everybody else and there’s not much left to choose from. We left the booking too late, so instead of a beach holiday we decided to go inland, to the serene Kanimbla valley in the Blue Mountains close to Blackheath.
We were delighted with our choice, our accommodation was definitely “away from it all”, and we spent plenty of time going on walks down the country dirt road taking in the scenery.
Miss R, age 5, had been rubbing rocks together in the playground at school with some friends, making a chalky powder. On one of our walks she showed me how she was making it and seemed very fascinated by the process. She knew it was called “ochre” and told me that it had sprinkled with rain while they were making it at school and turned into paint. She could not stop talking about it for at least 20 minutes. We decided to collect a few more rocks and add water with our brushes once we got back to the cabin and try painting with it on paper.
Sandstone is common all over Australia, you need not go to the Kanimbla valley to collect some. In fact, after researching a bit after we arrived home, I’ve discovered that ochre paint was made and used by many early civilisations and native people all over the world, including the Australian Aboriginal people. We did not do any research before hand for this activity and did not follow any traditional method for creating our paint, it was just a simple, experimental exercise that we did on the spur of the moment one afternoon.
To make the paint:
Rub two pieces of sandstone together until you get a decent amount of coloured dust (ochre). Then, using a paintbrush, add water and continue adding small amounts of water directly to the rock until the powder has turned into a paste. The thicker the paste, the more intense the colour and the thicker the paint will be.
Have you tried this activity at home, or do you remember drawing or painting with rocks as a kid?