Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 13 comments

(Here’s a pumpkin-colored post for Halloween.)

Wikipedia says of ochre (or ocher) that it “is a natural clay earth pigment which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. It ranges in colour from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colours produced by this pigment, especially a light brownish-yellow. A variant of ochre containing a large amount of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide, has a reddish tint known as “red ochre” (or, in some dialects, ruddle).”

On September 8th in British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park we got our biggest dose ever of ochre when we visited the area known as the Paint Pots. We followed in the steps of native peoples and Anglo settlers, as you can read on the national park’s website. While world travelers may see merely mediocre ochre occur occasionally elsewhere, I rate this deposit more than just an okay ochre.


Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 31, 2017 at 4:42 AM

13 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. That looks like pretty serious ochre to me! Some really good material is found in Western Australia at Wilgie Mia near Cue, around 600 kms north-east of Perth. The mine is believed to be at least 30,000 years old. Fascinating how similar it is to the Paint Pots.


    October 31, 2017 at 5:00 AM

  2. “Merely mediocre ochre occur”. 😀
    My great uncle once took us to see the remnants of an ochre mine in the Poconos, used to make barn paint in the old days

    Robert Parker

    October 31, 2017 at 5:04 AM

    • You were well ahead of me, as this was the first ochre I recall ever seeing. It gave me a chance to play with pictures and words.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2017 at 7:10 AM

  3. What a beautiful splash of color. I bet, like the red dirt here, it does not come out of clothing very well.


    October 31, 2017 at 5:57 AM

    • I suspect you’re right. With that in mind, when taking some of my pictures I stepped gingerly to keep from getting ochre on my shoes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2017 at 7:13 AM

  4. Nothing mediocre about your word play this morning. I always felt this was a muddy color on the canvas which is odd, considering how much I enjoy mud. You’d think I’d love the earth colors. It’s fun there is a place called Paint Pots.


    October 31, 2017 at 7:00 AM

    • You just gave me an idea: the park could hold an annual Paint Pots for Painters Day, with a follow-up exhibition to display the paintings people had made of the place. If you visited the Paint Pots, you might have a change of heart about ochre in your own paintings.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2017 at 7:20 AM

      • That is a fun idea. My first teacher was an artist in a neighboring town, and she strongly favored the earth colors for her paintings. After awhile I really chafed at the muted colors, and that resistance to them remains to this day. Odd, really, because I love the earth so, and only want to paint nature. In fact it is a little embarrassing to me that my favorite colors come out of a laboratory. I’ve looked into some of the glorious colors you can get from plants but they tend to be fugitive and are more suited to dyeing than painting.


        November 2, 2017 at 8:10 AM

        • Ah, so your history explains your persistent aversion to earth colors. A trip to Santa Fe and Taos might be just the thing to make you swoon over those colors. Or, if you can find a source of ochre close to home, you could paint earthy scenes using a real bit of earth along with or instead of laboratory-derived colors.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 2, 2017 at 8:33 AM

  5. At least now I have a name for the color they’ve been painting La Quintas and other motels over the past years. It certainly does look better in your photos than on those buildings.

    I’ve always known the word ochre, but I’ve never used it, and don’t think I could have described the color if someone asked. The two photos help to demonstrate the color range, and the differences in texture are interesting. I’m past the playing in mud puddles stage of life, but, on the other hand, the chance to play in a ruddle puddle could be quite a temptation.


    October 31, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    • So you could muddle through a ruddle puddle?

      I looked at pictures of La Quintas and found the colors to be toned-down ochres. Like you, I don’t know that I could’ve used the word with any confidence.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2017 at 9:27 AM

  6. […] month you had an introduction to the Paint Pots in British Columbia’s Kootenay National Park. Now here’s a little more from our […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: