Why did we stop using natural earth pigments?
“300” height=”193″ />I was surprised to find out that long before the white man discovered and began drilling for oil (petroleum), Native Americans were using it for centuries in their paints, medicine and magic. They found it in small pools, streams, and shales where it had naturally seeped up through layers of rock.
In 1859, Edwin Drake drilled the first oil producing well in Pennsylvania and the world was changed forever. In addition to being used for fuel, oil was scientifically studied, and gradually the many chemicals composing petroleum were isolated. New substances that didn’t previously exist in nature were made, like plastics and “modern” paints.
Producers of these new paints convinced people to change from traditional paints by promoting the idea that their new products were more durable (despite the fact that ancient paints have lasted thousands of years). And even though these new paints were more expensive in the beginning, people were persuaded to buy them and most painters changed their practices soon after.
With this new growth, change and wealth in the twentieth century, we also went through great changes in the way we relate to the natural world, in terms of its resources and our spiritual connection with it. Now we seem to have a new “religion” of consumerism with an insatiable and unsustainable consumption of our planet’s raw materials. I believe we’re now on our way back to the way our ancestors related to the world around them. We’re becoming were aware of the source and properties of our products. To everything there is a reaction, and cultures do change. Let’s take responsibility and act accordingly.
Historical info from “The Natural Paint Book” by Lynn Edwards