Have you ever smooshed a marigold or buttercup across a page in your journal or sketchbook? Maybe it left a yellowish smudge… And while you may have done it by accident, a couple weeks ago I smooshed plant parts onto the page on purpose.
It was part experiment, part “artist date” a’la Julia Cameron, and a whole lot curiosity. I wanted to know would blue pigments in my bachelor button blossoms smear blue pigment on the page? Would the centers of oxeye daisies make as nice a yellow as buttercups?
I began by collecting a variety of plants that I thought might provide some color:
bachelor button flower
bleeding heart flowers and leaves
oxeye daisy flower
buttercup flowers and leaves
yellow hawkweed flowers
creeping charlie leaves
I knew I could extract pigments by boiling the flowers and adding a mordant (a mordant is a chemical that helps keep the pigment from fading, such as vinegar or alum). But I wanted something more immediate. So I pressed and smeared, smooshed, and squashed petals and plant parts directly onto the paper.
Results: Yellow hawkweed and buttercup petals left bright yellow smudges; the yellow center of the daisy left only a faint mark. Bachelor button petals left a bright blue. Strawberries left pink smears, not the red I expected. Bleeding heart flowers left no pigment on the page. As for the leaves, creeping charlie and bleeding heart leaves left different shades of green.