Ochre-based pastes have been used to provide sun protection as well as a barrier against insects such as mosquitos. Ochre colors have been and continue to be frequently utilized in paint and artwork. Ochre-based paints are used to create many of the red and yellow colours seen in rock art panels across the world. The term "ochre" comes from the Latin word ocra, which means "coarse stone".
In addition to its use in paint, ochre has been used for centuries throughout Asia and Africa to color human skin, especially that of women who were expected to wear clothes made from cotton or linen. The women would scrape off layers of skin with a tool called an "ebony stick", leaving them with dark brown or black skin. This practice was still common in some African countries as recently as the 1990s.
In modern times, ochre continues to be used extensively in tribal tattoos. The colors available in natural ochre vary depending on where it originates. Generally, it consists of several different iron oxides mixed together with organic material such as cellulose. This makes ochre very stable over time and temperature. There are two main types of ochre: ground ochre, which is found in nature in large rocks or boulders; and hand-picked ochre, which is harvested by digging up roots, tubers, or bulbs and then cleaned and processed into powder.
Ochre's historical and contemporary applications
To preserve Indigenous artifacts and weapons, ochre was traditionally blended with a variety of ingredients to make a paint or coating. Ochre was originally mixed with sap, honey, eggs, blood, saliva, animal fat, and water, among other things. Today, it is most often mixed with petroleum-based products.
Indigenous people across North America painted themselves and their tools using this mixture. The colors were usually dark shades of red, brown, black, and yellow. In some cases, they added white, blue, or green feathers or stones for extra color.
The mixing process changed over time. Originally, the ochre was pure and only needed small amounts of additives. As settlers moved into Indigenous lands, they brought their own materials to use in place of the traditional paints. These materials included oil, gasoline, and mineral spirits. The effects of these substances on the ochre are unknown. However, modern artists have used these products as mediums for painting with; therefore, they are safe for use by non-Indigenous people.
Today, ochre is most commonly found ground up and mixed with oil or wax. It can also be made into pastes or powders. The paste form is used when making drawings on cave walls; while powder is used when painting on metal surfaces.
Ochre is a natural pigment derived from clay and silt deposits that comes in a variety of colors ranging from yellow to dark red and brown. The color can be white or slightly colored, depending on how it was processed. Commercial ochres are usually gray or brown because these colors are easier to see when painted onto materials such as wood.
Ochre has been used for painting since at least 3000 B.C., if not longer. It was often used by ancient Egyptians to paint objects such as furniture and statues. It was also commonly used by Native Americans in North America. Today, it is still used in many parts of the world for painting crafts and decorative items.
Ochre contains iron oxide, which is why it turns brown when exposed to air for long periods of time. This doesn't affect its ability to be used as a paint ingredient though, so don't worry about mixing different types of ochres if you want to create a specific color.
The color of ochre comes from chromium oxide, which is one of the two main components that make up rust. Chromium oxide is a bright red color that varies depending on how much chromium is present in it.
Ochre pigments, in addition to clay and iron oxide, may be based on earth and iron oxide-hydroxide, which has a characteristic yellow hue. A family of traditional pigments created using clay, earth, ferric oxide, and/or iron oxide-hydroxide that are based on a succession of brown, yellow, and red colors. These are used for painting bodies of water, landscapes, etc.
Ochre comes in many forms, such as powder, flake, chunk, and stone. It can be any color from light yellow to dark red. The most common source of ochre is the mineral haematite, which is the same material that makes blood red. Other sources include lithic (rock) siderites and scorodite (a copper ore). Ochre was once harvested from natural sources but now is mostly obtained through mining. It is used by artists because it retains its color when exposed to air and light, which allows for long lasting paintings.
Ochre was widely used by ancient people worldwide. It can be found in large quantities in some Egyptian tombs, especially those of children. This suggests that it was probably not just used for painting, but also had other purposes, such as coloring food or even making ink.
In modern times, ochre continues to be used extensively by artists. It is sometimes called "mixed pigment" because it can be used as a substitute for other colors.