Friday, 6 December 2013

Why Choose Natural Paints

Think of the last time you used some paint to create a picture, or watched your children dip their brushes or fingers into a pot of paint.  Have you ever wondered if you should be concerned about what is in paint and how we dispose of it? We all want to use products in our daily lives that are healthy and safe, and through creative acts like painting we make physical and emotional contact with this medium in much the same way that we do with cosmetics or decorating our homes.

In the past, artists used paints that were made from natural ingredients.  Each artist had to learn how to source, grind and mix his or her own ingredients to make paint. With the dawn of the petrochemical industry in the 1930's (Smith, 2003), the knowledge and skill of creating natural paints was displaced by cheaper, petroleum-based, ready-to-use paints and that is still largely the case today.

Petrochemicals have become so pervasive in our lives, that most of the time we don’t even know what has been made with a fossil fuel derivative or by-product and what hasn’t.  We are highly dependent on petrochemicals, but their use is not without cost to the environment, our health or the future of our planet.

Historically, natural paints like watercolors and oils used to be made out of earth and mineral pigments or plant and animal substances mixed with oils, gums, resins, waxes and other natural additives. Often the mineral pigments used in the past were highly toxic, primarily from  lead which exposed the artists to high levels of toxicity.  Today, natural paints are made from ingredients that are from the plant, mineral or animal world.  They all require some degree of processing or chemistry to remove toxic elements, or to prepare the substance into a usable form.  The difference between pigments used in natural paint and those in conventional paint is like the difference between plastic and glass.  Plastic is made from fossil fuel and glass is derived from sand, a naturally occurring mineral mixture. Similarly, the rest of the ingredients that are added to natural paint are from plant or animal sources, not petroleum.

There are some drawbacks to natural paints.  Conventional paints use pigments that come from burning fossil fuels at extremely high temperatures and are engineered to provide hundreds of artificial colors.  Not all mineral pigments, such as the bright red cinnabar (vermillion), can be collected at a reasonable cost, or ‘cleaned up’ to remove toxicity (Smith, 2003). Clay earth pigments and other mineral-based pigments that are available for us to use in paint are beautiful but limited in color range.  Although it is true that conventional paints can be very economical, natural paints are sometimes only slightly more expensive and in return you still are provided with high-performing quality and rich color. Some natural art paint brands are already prepared for you, and some are in powdered form for you to prepare yourself with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen. Explore what’s available and consider switching back to natural paints like the old masters!

Smith, Ray. The New Artist's Handbook, UK Publishing, Inc.;  New York: 2003 print

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Art Evolve - Colors of Nature Watercolor Review

On December 3, 2013 Ashesela K, wrote a review on Colors of Nature's watercolor paints. The review was unsolicited and derived from a free paint sample card that was sent to her a week or so earlier.

What Ashelea has written and produced with Colors of Nature's natural paints is informative and delightful. She has discovered for herself many of the points Colors of Nature has been striving to show artists since we opened.

Here is an example of some of her observations.

There is no black in the Colors of Nature paint line, but I don't mind that at all.  A great tip I read from many art masters, is to not use black paint, but to make a 'black' from a mixture of other colours.  It really makes the darks in the paintings more realistic and in more harmony with the rest of the picture, since there is very little pure black in nature.  Adding a pure black to your painting can make the black areas look too out of place with the rest of it.  Also, shadows are generally not black, but darkened combinations of colours.
Here is an example of the artwork she created with our sample card.

Ashesela K., Dec 3 2013
If you are interested in reading more of Ashesela's review please visit her at:

If you are interested in receiving a free sample card of our paints we would be delighted to send you one.  Please go to our website and use the contact form to submit a request.

Request a sample.

Monday, 2 December 2013

"Reawakening" with Colors of Nature

Readers have asked why are there so few colors in our palette and retailers say their customers need more colors, more choices, but our contributing artists like G. Papadakis and J. Muir demonstrate that 13 natural colors in the hands of a talented artist are more than sufficient to produce a beautiful peace of artwork.

If you are such an artist let us know. We would like to speak with you. Contact us at

Colors of Nature Watercolor paint on acrylic cold-press paper 10" x 8"
"Reawakening" G. Papadakis 10" x 8"

Colors of Nature is Now Zero Carbon Emissions

Colors of Nature, always striving to set new standards for itself, has achieved a new milestone.

Research has shown that consumers like yourself care about the environment and want to support companies that have a strong record of respecting the environment. To that end, Colors of Nature has created an all natural earth-friendly paint that is petroleum and solvent free, it has no animal products in its paint nor was it tested on animals, and it uses recycled and reusable packaging in order to lessen the burden on our waste management systems.  Not stopping there, Colors of Nature has gone one step further but offsetting its carbon emissions.

Colors of Nature, as of December 2013, is now emissions free at its office and manufacturing facilities.

zero emissions, green electricity, green natural gas, carbon emissions, zero carbons
bullfrog power 100% green electrify and gas

Colors of Nature has entered into an agreement with Bullfrog Power as of December 2013. This agreement means that 100% of both its electricity and natural gas requirements are now met with green electricity and green natural gas from Bullfrog Power. This power is generated from various solar and wind farms around Canada and methane gas is captured from one of Canada’s thousands of landfills.

To learn more about what Bullfrog Power is doing for the environment please visit their website at:

Monday, 25 November 2013

Vegan Action Certifies Colors of Nature

On November 21, 2013 Colors of Nature completed the application process for the Vegan Awareness Foundation.

Colors of Nature can now use the logo on all its professional quality watercolor paints. Among the requirements of was a submission of information on Colors of Nature's ingredient suppliers and documentation to prove that animals were not used in part or in whole in the manufacturing and testing of it products. Signed statements from suppliers indicating that no animals were tested on were also provided.

In adherence to its policy - Colors of Nature has again been acknowledged for its commitment to making a professional quality artists' paint that does not compromise the standards of its environmentally conscience consumer. Colors of Nature's paints are natural and vegan, free from petroleum, solvents and animal derived ingredients, and safe to use by adults and children alike.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Almost Free by J. Muir

From J. Muir
"It's called 'Almost Free' because this cow, while rescued from whatever sad fate awaited her and now living in a sanctuary, will always be dependent on human charity for her well-being.  She is domesticated - she can never be truly free.  But this painting is not just about her being a victim - we see her gazing back at us with soul and intent. 
Hope you like it."

J. Muir - Colors of Nature Watercolor Paint on watercolor paper 10" x 14"
"Almost Free" J. Muir - Colors of Nature Watercolor Paint on watercolor paper 10" x 14"

Friday, 8 November 2013

ACMI AP Seal of Approval for Colors of Nature

Today, Colors of Nature, has received authorization to use the "AP Seal" of ACMI on all of its 13 watercolor paints.

What does this mean?

"Products bearing the AP Approved Product Seal of ACMI are certified in a program of toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans or to cause acute or chronic health problems. This program is reviewed by ACMI's Toxicological Advisory Board. These products are certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard, ASTM D 4236 and Federal law, P.L. 100-695. In addition, there is no physical hazard as defined within 29 CFR Part 1910.1200 (c)." 

In short, it means that Colors of Nature's professional quality earth friendly watercolor paints have been determined to be safe for both children and adults, that there are no high levels of lead in the paint nor in the containers, no asbestos in our natural mineral pigments, and no harmful toxicity in our vegan and animal free ingredients.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

PETA recognizes Colors of Nature as Vegan and Cruelty-free

Colors of Nature a Division of The Organic Make-up Company has just now been authorized to use the's Cruelty-free and Vegan logo.

PETA Cruelty-free and Vegan Logo

In the tradition of The Organic Make-up Company, Colors of Nature is setting the standards for its industry. As a conscientious manufacturer and retailer, Colors of Nature is listening to and responding to the demands of its consumers for a green, vegan, and cruelty-free product.

Colors of Nature, like its consumers, is committed to a productive and environmentally friendly future.

Colors of Nature is in the process of completing its ACMI "AP" certification and will have a product recognized as being safe for both adults and children.

Keep in touch to see what other new certifications Colors of Nature achieves over the next few months.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Cruelty Free Artists' Paints Standards

Colors of Nature does not use any animals or animal parts in any form to produce their artists’ paints and supplies.
All paints and supplies developed by Colors of Nature are tested on canvas, wood and paper and on willing human participants (i.e. for potential adverse reactions to skin), and animals are never used at any stage of research, development or production.
All products manufactured by Colors of Nature are vegetarian, i.e. free from any ingredient derived from whole animals or animal parts. Our definition of animals include all forms of living creatures that are part of the animal kingdom, such as insects, bacteria, algae, etc. For instance, ingredients such as carmine are not acceptable ingredients for use in our products as they require the destruction of these living organisms in order to fulfill an aesthetic function.
Our products are made strictly from plants and minerals, and do not require the death, suffering or dismemberment of any animal, neither to test nor produce our products.
Our parent company, The Organic Make-up Co. Inc., won the 2007 PETA Award for ‘Best Cruelty-Free Cosmetics’.

By Lori Stryker
President and Founder

Sponsored Artists Using Colors of Nature Watercolor Paints

Colors of Nature watercolor paints
"Over the Hill - Block Island II", Jean Patiky 2014

Colors of Nature watercolor paints
"Over the Hill - Block Island I", Jean Patiky 2014
Colors of Nature Watercolor paint
"Koi" - Vegan Lovlie 2014

Colors of Nature watercolors with ink outlines on 14"x11" illustration board
"Speckled Sunflower", G. Papadakis 2014

"Angel", ANg Westermann 2014

Machal Hollis, May 23, 2014

"A Gentle Life"Leigh Sanders 2014

"Abstract" Leigh Sander 2014

"Meowyweather, A Fairy's Best Friend", Rachel Foland 2014
"Meowyweather, A Fairy's Best Friend", Rachel Foland 2014

"Patonga Trawler" Robyn Sinclair 2014 Colors of Nature paint on watercolor paper
"Patonga Trawler" Robyn Sinclair March 2014

"PIENZA" Robyn Sinclair 2014 Colors of Nature paint on watercolor paper
"Pienza" Robyn Sinclair March 2014

"EARTH COLOUR SHELL" Tamara Philips 2014 Colors of Nature paint on watercolor paper
"Earth Colour Shell" Tamara Philips March 2013

"BEES FOR PEACE" J. Muir 2014 Colors of Nature paint on watercolor paper 7¼ x 9¼
"Bees for Peace" J. Muir March 2014

Colors of Nature Paint on Watercolor paper
"Pilbara" Renata Wright, February 2014

"Clown" Renata Wright, February 2014

Colors of Nature Watercolor paint
Ashesela K., December 3 2013

Colors of Nature Watercolor paint on acrylic cold-press paper 10" x 8"
"Reawakening" G. Papadakis, December 2 2013

Colors of Nature Watercolor Paint on watercolor paper 10" x 14"
"Almost Free" J. Muir, November 8th 2013

Colors of Nature Watercolor Paint on watercolor paper 8" x 12"
"Arlene" J. Muir, October 3rd 2013

Colors of Nature Watercolor Paints on watercolor paper

Colors of Nature Watercolor Paint on watercolor paper  11" x 14"
"The Door in the Abbey" L. Iaboni 2013

Colors of Nature Watercolor paint on watercolor paper 4" x 6"
"Blue Butterfly" L.Iaboni 2012

Colors of Nature Watercolor Paint on watercolor paper  25" x 40"
"Flowers In Vase" L.Iaboni 2013

Information on Pigments used in Paints

Each pigment that Colors of Nature uses has been carefully researched for its safety and ecological impact. Here is a summary of the information available. Sources include manufacturers’ descriptions and MSDS data:

Pigment TypeSourceProcessingEcological Information
Ochres- Clay earth pigment
- Iron oxide from geothite
Washed by water and dried by the sun- Non-toxic
- Not listed as a carcinogen by the NTP, IARC, or OSHA; no adverse long-term effects are known

“There is no evidence to suggest that this substance will create any significant ecological properties if released into the environment. Inorganic pigments are insoluble and should not exhibit any bioaccumulation or biodegradation properties.” (MSDS)
Umbers- Clay earth pigment
- Iron oxide from geothite
Raw or burnt (heat applied)Not listed as a carcinogen by the NTP, IARC, or OSHA; no adverse long-term effects are known.

“Inorganic pigments are insoluble and should not exhibit any bioaccumulation or biodegradation properties”. (MSDS)
Oxides- Naturally occurring iron oxides from hematite or magnetiteHeat appliedNot listed as a carcinogen by the NTP, IARC, or OSHA; no adverse long-term effects are known

“Inorganic pigments are insoluble and should not exhibit any bioaccumulation or biodegradation properties.” (MSDS)
Siennas- Clay earth pigment
- Iron oxide from goethite or hematite
Raw or burnt (heat applied)Not listed as a carcinogen by the NTP, IARC, or OSHA; no adverse long-term effects are known

“Inorganic pigments are insoluble and should not exhibit any bioaccumulation or biodegradation properties”. (MSDS)
Chromium Oxide- Chromite ore
- Chromium oxide
Two chemical steps: roasting (ore is treated with hot air) and leaching (converts metal to a soluble salt in a water medium)FDA approved.

Not classified as a hazardous material (MSDS)
Ultramarine- Pigment Blue 29:77007
- Sulfurized silicilic acid, aluminium sodium salt from zeolite, lazurite
Manufactured from clay (contains silica, alumina), sodium sulfate, sulfur and charcoal.

Heat applied, then washed
Food and cosmetic grade

No evidence of carcinogenic effects according to ACGIH or IARC (MSDS)
Titanium dioxide- Ilmenite ore
- Titanium dioxide
Iron oxide is removed to leave synthetic rutile, which is reduced with carbon and oxidized with chlorine. Compound is re-oxidized with oxygen to regenerate the chlorineFood, pharmaceutical and cosmetic grade

Environmental Effects: No known significant effects or critical hazards (MSDS)

For more information please visitThe Organic Make-up Company
Vehicles for pigmentPlant: gums, oils, waxes; simple sugar alcohol, water, natural preservativeVariety of methodsFood, cosmetic and pharmaceutical grades


No evidence of carcinogenic effects according to ACGIH or IARC (MSDS)

13 Earth Tone Paints Enough?

Why does Colors of Nature have only 13 colors whereas other companies have many more?
Colors of Nature has stringent standards for its pigment selection. Not all pigments meet the criteria for being earth-friendly, and only those that meet the criteria are used in our paints. Colors of Nature paints are ‘base colors’ which means that these are the colors found in nature, and they vibrantly contribute to beautiful and natural works of art. Artists can mix endless colors of their own using our base colors, using their color mixing skills to create any variety of colors desired.

Earth-Friendly Paint?

In what ways is Colors of Nature paints ‘earth-friendly’?
The term ‘earth-friendly’ means that a product meets these criteria:
  • Raw materials were obtained using methods that are not toxic or perpetually damaging to the
  • Raw materials come from plant life or existing earth materials.
  • Raw materials come from recycled or re-purposed consumer products.
  • When chemistry is necessary, methods used are minimal or operate on the principle of reducing harm to the environment.
  • Manufacturing processes do not pollute the environment, either by contributing excessively to landfills or exhausting toxins into water systems or the air.
  • Packaging can be re-used, recycled or re-purposed.
  • Animals and their by-products are not used at any point in the process of manufacturing or of testing the product.
These are general criteria for earth-friendly products. Colors of Nature paints fulfills all of these criteria. Our paints are made from simple plant derivatives and mineral pigments which have had minimal chemistry applied to remove toxins like lead and arsenic or to isolate the substance from its original state. Our packaging and labels use waterless printing imprinted with vegetable dyes. We do not produce any garbage when we manufacture our paints, so nothing from Colors of Nature goes into the landfill, and any small amounts of residual paint that is washed from our machinery is not hazardous to the water supply according to MSDS indicators. Unlike conventional artists’ paints, which are made of petroleum-derived plastics and other synthetics that pollute the environment, our paints are made from natural materials that fully biodegrade or can be filtered out easily when washed down the sink. Our watercolor packaging can be washed out and re-used and our oil paint packaging is recyclable. Our products are 100% vegan.

Natural Mineral Pigments - Dangerous, Real, Safe?

Is there such a thing as a natural mineral pigment?
Yes, but they are too toxic for human use, often being high in arsenic and heavy metals. Colors of Nature only selects pigments that meet our stringent standards and deemed as ‘acceptable synthetics’, which are pigments that have had minimal chemistry applied to the raw mineral to remove naturally occurring toxins and/or to intensify their color. Fully synthetic pigments are not acceptable for Colors of Nature paints, as these have no base in nature and are usually derived from petroleum.  For more information, please visit our parent company, The Organic Make-up Company, and read more about this topic in the article entitled Natural vs Synthetic.

Lightfastness & Paints

What is lightfastness and how is it rated?
The term ‘lightfastness’ refers to a pigment’s ability to maintain its color after prolonged exposure to light. The lightfastness of a paint depends on the pigment, pigment concentration and the vehicle it is mixed with. The degree of color fading in the pigment is measured and rated according to how well the pigment maintains its original color once exposed to light over time.
Pigments are rated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Only pigments rated as class one and two are acceptable for artists’ materials. The pigments that Colors of Nature uses are of class one or two, and denoted by the words ‘excellent’ or ‘permanent’ which reflect our pigment manufacturers’ lightfast ratings.
Other artists’ paint companies produce colors with pigments that are vegetable based, and although these paints are great for temporary use, they will fade with time. Colors of Nature pigments will not fade, and so you can be assured that your efforts producing your artwork will last forever.
Source: Smith, Ray. New Artist’s Handbook, DK Publishing; New York: 2003 print

Earth-Friendly Paint or Conventional Paint?

Why should I use an earth-friendly paint instead of conventional paint? Does it really matter which paint I use?
There are many reasons to switch over to Colors of Nature earth-friendly paint. Our paint is made with ingredients that have minimal impact to the earth, both in its manufacture and disposal. We have very strict standards for our paint formulation. Our watercolor paints have to meet these criteria:
  • real colors that reflect the true colors of nature
  • high ratio of pigment to vehicle, giving rich colors that can be mixed to create unlimited
    numbers of innovative and traditional colors
  • made completely from natural ingredients
  • animal free, cruelty free, solvent free and petroleum free
  • professional quality performance
  • maintains its integrity in the long term when painted on watercolor paper
  • permanent or excellent lightfastness
  • affordable price and long lasting
  • made in Canada
Conventional paints are primarily composed of petroleum-derived ingredients that don’t biodegrade and pollute the earth in ways that our ingredients do not. For instance, plastic-based ingredients don’t biodegrade when released into the water supply whereas our plant ingredients do. Another consideration is the quality of the colors. Colors of Nature pigments are rich and reflect the real colors found in nature, unlike the synthetic colors found in conventional paint. Once you experience the difference in the quality of Colors of Nature, you won’t likely go back to conventional paints!

Who we are and why it matters to have natural paint

Why choose natural watercolors over conventional paint?
  • real colors that reflect the true colors of nature
  • made completely from natural ingredients
  • animal free, cruelty free, solvent free and petroleum free
  • professional quality performance
  • permanent or excellent lightfastness
  • affordable price and long lasting
  • members of ACMI
  • made in Canada
As visual artists, we breathe, touch and surround ourselves with the media of paint, so using natural paints made with plants and minerals is clearly a healthy choice. Our paints and supplies perform as well as our non-natural counterparts without any compromise in quality or selection.
Our earth-friendly paints meet these criteria:
Colors of Nature uses pigments that are:
  • From natural, raw sources
  • Safe for humans and the environment
  • Processed using minimal chemistry to remove toxic elements.
Colors of Nature’s paints are:
  • Composed of all natural, plant-based ingredients and naturally-occurring mineral pigments
  • Petroleum-free
  • 100% vegan
Colors of Nature products provide artists who are looking towards an environmentally sustainable future with high-quality, prepared paints that they can use with confidence to create beautiful and lasting works of art.