• Watercolor paper
    Tea, coffee, and cranberry juice
    Lard, Butter, Solid and liquid vegetable oil
    Spices, mustard, dirt, grass, fruits and vegetables, and other natural materials that can stain
    Paint brushes
    Small containers with lids (paint storage)
    Aprons/paint shirts
    Links and Books on natural paint mixing and Mughal Miniatures;
    • Whiles, Virginia. (2010). Art and Polemic in Pakistan: Cultural Politics and Tradition in Contemporary Miniature Painting.
    • Edwards, Lynn. (2003). The Natural Paint Book.


  • Use problem solving to figure out natural materials they can use and combine to make paints and also dye paper
    • Learn about the process that Mughal miniature painters go through when creating a piece
    • Create their own composition based on Mughal miniature paintings

Resource Instructions

Preliminary Discussion:
Discuss process with students; how artists begin a piece as opposed to showing them the finished product first. Then look through some images of contemporary Mughal Miniaturist paintings by Ambreen Butt and Saira Wasim whom still use tea staining and hand mixed pigments from natural materials. Discuss briefly the imagery and subject used in the works and the meanings behind them. With older students you may be able to get them to discuss some of the political satire seen in Saira Wasim’s work
Art Activity:
• Start the project by dying paper. Using tea, coffee, or even fruit juice; have students dip a piece of watercolor paper into a large container full of the liquid of their choosing. Leave the paper in the liquid for at least 15 minutes and check on how well the liquid is dying the paper (don’t leave the paper in for too long because it will start disintegrating). Once the paper has a nice color all around, take it out and leave it to dry for about 24 hours.
• Next, have students mix their paints. Find some things either outside or maybe in the refrigerator that can stain. Things like grass, dirt, berries, flowers, mustard, and spices would work well. Have students use lard, solid or liquid vegetable oil, or butter to grind and mix their
natural materials together making a thick paint. Have each student make at least three different color paints.
They may share paints when it’s time to use them.
• Have students use a paint brush with their homemade paints to create their own miniature painting on their dyed paper. This project is more about process and understanding materials so the composition can be very simple especially with younger students. You might suggest they do a composition showcasing the natural materials they use to make their materials like flowers, fruit, etc.


Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum
 Students compare the characteristics of works in two or more art forms that share similar subject
matter, historical periods, or cultural context


• Students have dyed a piece of paper using tea, coffee, or fruit juice
• Students have mixed their own paints using fat and natural materials
• Students have used their paints and dyed paper to create their own miniature paintings

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