Natural Hues

Avocado skins and stones, Black beans, Red Cabbage, Jamun Skins, Onion Skins, Hibiscus flower, Curry leaves, Spinach leaves, Madder root, Beetroot, Pomegranate skins, Bougainvillea flower, Indigo pigment.

Natural dyes extracted and used as inks and lake pigments


Science and Art converge in exploring with natural sources (such as scraps from the kitchen and garden) to produce dyes, inks and pigments.

These explorations involve several steps that take time, tenacity and patience. Results tend to be unpredictable, yet beautiful and rewarding.



One of the most used forms of natural colours, lake pigments can be created by taking any natural dye and precipitating the colour bearing chromophore in the dye, with a mordant.

Depending upon the desired medium, the resulting pigment can be mixed in gum Arabic to create watercolors, or in oils to create oil paints.


In March 2020, Sudha found herself running out painting inks as the world began to hunker down in response to Covid-19. To make the most of resources available at home, she began exploring with kitchen and garden sources to create dyes and pigments of her own.

Sudha began testing her natural dyes, inks and pigments to create abstract works on acid-free watercolour paper to check qualities like consistency, brush flow application, richness of the hue and layer-ability of the pigment in a water-based medium.

Once satisfied, she quickly moved to paint landscape views, as seen during walks in her neighborhood in LA. Now in Chennai, she continues to paint scenes inspired by local surroundings, in greater detail, while continuing to extract dyes and pigments from the kitchen and garden scraps of local variety.

Making of red pigment from dried madder roots.


A quick view of how natural dyes and pigments
age with time and conditions of exposure.

Shop Prints

Artwork Prints available online on:

All Works © Sudha Palepu, 2022