Botanical pigment & watercolour making workshop

Learn how to harness the colour potential of British native plants to create your own unique set of botanical pigments.

Star shaped artwork from pigment

Date and time

1 December 2023, 10.30am to 4pm


Botanical Brasserie Restaurant Courtyard, Kew Gardens

Maximum capacity

20 people


Member: £95

Non-member: £105

In this workshop with Lucy Mayes from London Pigment, you will learn how to make a botanical palette of three primary colours from native plant species: madder (red), woad (blue) and weld (yellow).

Make a set of pigments from plant dyes using the traditional ‘lake making process’. This process will convert a soluble plant dye into an insoluble pigment ready to be used in any binding medium to create a range of different paints.

You will:

  1. process the plant material
  2. extract the colouring compounds
  3. mix in alum, which will be the basis for your pigment
  4. add a special material that will ‘fix’ the dye to the alum 
  5. filter off the water
  6. make a range of watercolour paints from your newly formed pigment by adding some cherry gum binder

Leave the class with your own set of botanical watercolours and a completed, specially designed colour chart. 

Multicoloured water paint on white paper
Botanical pigment & watercolour making workshop © Lucy Mayes

About the tutor

Lucy is an artist and pigment maker based in East London. She became interested in the materiality of works of art during her BFA at The Ruskin, Oxford University and her MFA at The RCA. Whilst researching historical art materials for L.Cornelissen & Son she developed an interest in the processes behind the manufacture of artist’s pigments. Through her own research and tutorship under pigment maker Keith Edwards she creates pigments and dyes that relate specifically to London through their use of specific raw materials. Urban debris like nodules of red brick, residues of burnt tyres, scrap car parts and common weeds have all been used in her work to produce hyper-local colour palettes.