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Earth Pigments: An Ode to Mother Earth

In celebration of Earth Day, we thought it prudent to commemorate our planet’s contributions to the arts. They are infinitely generous donations, with which we can only to a fraction imitate Her artworks, but nevertheless we earnestly try.

We would like to focus particularly on Earth Pigments, an indispensable resource to the arts that humans have made use of since prehistoric times, and still do to this very day.

“Earth Pigment” refers to a collection of naturally occurring minerals that can be used as colorants for a wide variety of applications. Many of these colors are carbon and iron derivatives and create a variety of “earthy” hues. Earth pigments are “inorganic,” as opposed to colors derived from plant and animal matter, their strength is their abundance and lightfastness. Many cave paintings and drawings executed in ochres (iron oxide colors) are still remarkably well-preserved.

Common Classes of Earth Pigments:

Ochre: Ochres are yellow, red, and brown. Comprising clay, sand, and ferric oxides in varying ratios, ochres are the colors that decorated Lascaux. Ochres are largely semitransparent.

Sienna: Manganese and iron oxides combine to produce a transparent pigment that is yellow-brown in color, and yields orange-red hues after treatment by heat. Named after the Italian city of Siena, mined by ancient Romans.

Umber: Also a manganese and iron oxide blend, umbers are darker than siennas. The name is contested, attributed to either the city of Umbria, or towards a Latin word that means “shadow.”

Mars: Mars pigments are a modern breed, iron is treated with lime and potash, resulting in colors of particular intensity and tinting strength.

Earth pigments have enjoyed extensive use because of how readily accessible they are. They require minimal processing to prepare as a medium and are commonplace all over the globe. As the industry of human art grew, earth pigments maintained their importance even in the face of more technically complex pigments. They are, as previously stated, plentiful and inexpensive. They are lightfast and remain chemically stable over long periods of time. In oil painting, they are particularly prized for their fast-drying characteristics, and in watercolor for their ability to granulate. To speak of their usefulness as colors, they are exceedingly versatile. Ochre, sienna, and umber all have just as much a place in the landscape as they do the portrait. On their own they provide a plethora of naturalistic shades and values, and by mixing with other colors they facilitate an extensive gamut of supreme subtlety and sensitivity.

There is something symbolically fulfilling about creating a representation of the landscape, using elements dug from the very earth beneath one’s easel. The continued use of these pigments further grounds the connection between contemporary and ancestral artist, and reminds us of the beauty our planet has to offer.

Last Full Week to View!

In honor of spring, this show features our community’s various takes on the beautiful flowers and critters that come out to play this season. Huge thanks to everyone who participated. Flutter by and take a look!

Feeling inspired? Join Acrylic Painting with Catherine Lemoine this Saturday and/or Sunday to create your own beautiful flowers & butterflies!


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When: Saturday, April 22nd, 11am-2:30pm & Sunday, April 23rd, 12:30-3:30pm

Ages: All

Upcoming Classes & Workshops

Please remember that we have a small parking lot. If you are attending one of our demonstrations or workshops, and it is not a physical hardship for you, please park on one of the nearby side streets. We appreciate your consideration.

For more info on each class, click on the “click here” button for more info about each class, or click on the class title which will take you to our calendar!

“Slo Drawz” Drawing & Social Club

Want to improve your drawing skills while also building a community of supportive creatives? Then join the drawing group Slo Drawz!

Next meeting (Figure) is Thursday, April 27th, 5-7pm

Starting May 1st, the group will be switching to second and fourth Mondays 5-7pm.

Please join us, sessions are $20 each with a suggested tip for the fabulous models! Advance registration is suggested – maximum of 15 people per session! Please sign up by messaging the Instagram @SloDrawz or email Chantelle at

Sculpey World with Zoe Williamson

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When: Saturday, May 13th, 10:30am-12pm

Ages: 6+

Printmaking for Kids with Cheryl Barton & Maryanne Nucci

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When: Saturday, May 13th, 1:30-4:30pm

Ages: 8-12

Mommy & Me Paper Mache Frames with Spencer Collins

Spend quality time as a family on Mother’s Day and decorate adorable frames!

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When: Sunday, May 14th, 11am-12pm

Ages: 5-11

Watercolor Without Fear with Virginia Mack

When: Tuesdays, 10:30am-12:30pm

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When: Wednesdays, 1:30pm-3:30pm


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Beyond the Basics Watercolor with Virginia Mack

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When: Wednesdays, 10:30am-12:30pm

Ages: 16-100

Beginning Drawing for Kids with Spencer Collins

Last session on 5/4!

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When: Thursdays, 3:30pm-4:45pm

Ages: 8-13

Community Bulletin Board

If you’d like us to advertise your art event here, please email us at

Art on the Patio – Art Center Morro Bay

Join Art Center Morro Bay for Art on the Patio on Saturday, April 22nd, 12-4pm

“Great Plein-Art Painting Experience” with Laurel Sherrie – Workshop

Come on out, enjoy the beauty of the Camatta, a 32,000 acre ranch near Hwy 58, east of Santa Margarita, CA. Laurel will teach the “Great Plein-Air Painting Experience”, class on site at the incredible Camatta Ranch, April 29 1-4pm.

This class is for everyone, beginners to advanced. Join in the fun and take home a painting you have created. Limited to 13 students. Information on the whole weekend of “Capturing Art at the Camatta” can be found here.

“Our Central Coast” – Call for Artists – Studios in the Park

Morro Bay Art Association will be teaming up with Paso Robles Art Association, Cambria for the Arts and Atascadero Art Association for an exciting summer exhibit hosted by Studios on the Park!

Deadline for submissions is May 1st

Click HERE for more info

“The Power of Red” – Exhibit – Art Center Morro Bay

There is no denying the power of red. The color symbolizes an undeniable sense of extremes: strength, passion, heat, luck, wealth and confidence.

Each artist in this show was asked, “In a single word, what does the use of red represent in your artistic creation? Anger? Joy? Foreboding? Realism? Love? Danger?”

This exhibit will be on display until May 15th

Fused Glass Class – Le Brane Design

Join instructor, mixed-media & glass artist Larry Le Brane for Art Workshops in a dedicated glass studio in Los Osos-Baywood Park, CA. Try Beginning Fused Glass, or his weekly Fused Glass Labs to make glass projects independently. Larry’s classes have been popular with new art students & Central Coast professional artists & for almost 20 years. Enjoy private classes with friends & family, too.

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Oil Painting Workshops with Libby Tolley

Join Libby Tolley for her 2023 studio and plein air oil painting workshops! She’s offering a Plein Air Essentials workshop for studio artists wanting to learn to work on location, and artists that have not worked with her before.

Other workshops available as well, click here for more info!

Let’s keep in touch!

– and remember –

Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.


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