Obscura Society NY: Invasive Pigments and Feral Hues / Reconsidering Weeds Through Watercolor - Atlas Obscura

New York, NY

Obscura Society NY: Invasive Pigments and Feral Hues / Reconsidering Weeds Through Watercolor

Join artist Ellie Irons for a special two-day workshop, transforming New York's wild plant-life into a beautiful palette of handmade watercolors.

Explore an artisanal process for creating watercolors from wild urban plants during this two-day, hands-on workshop. Learn to identify and harvest spontaneously-growing plant life found in the unique landscape of High Bridge Park in upper Manhattan, then use your collected plants to make your own watercolor paints. Throughout the two days, you'll work closely with artist Ellie Irons to learn the process of transforming plants into paint, and to consider the role of plants in cities, exploring what it means to be “native” or “weedy”,  biodiverse or depauperate.
Day One of the workshop, join Ellie for a plant-harvesting trip to High Bridge Park. We’ll walk the trail leading up to the recently re-opened High Bridge, part of the Old Croton Aqueduct, foraging plants as we go. Over the forty years the bridge was closed for the repairs, the trail to its entrance had the opportunity to “rewild” itself, and now supports a rich variety of spontaneous plants that survive particularly well in challenging urban landscapes. Many of these plants have interesting life histories (most were introduced to the Americas from other continents) and also sport a range of colors that are an important part of their lifecycle. As we identify and learn about them, we’ll also collect berries, leaves, stems and flowers for use in making watercolor paints. 
Day Two, held at the artist's studio in Bushwick, will include a slideshow and talk about Ellie’s Invasive Pigments project, followed by a hands on session in which participants will be able to make paints from the plants collected on the first day of the workshop. We’ll make portraits of the plants we’ve identified and gathered, and will also experiment with other watercolor techniques and approaches. 
Participants will receive:
  • a new perspective on spontaneous urban plants and the landscapes they inhabit
  • an understanding of the traditional methods used to make watercolor paints
  • an opportunity for hands on experimentation with making and using plant-based watercolor paints
  • a resource booklet and plant guide for making watercolor paints using plants
  • a sample set (2-3 colors) of watercolors made from collected plants




Saturday, September 12th, 2-4 PM 

Meet at Highbridge Park, Playground at Edgecomb Avenue and West 164th Street (across the street from PS 328)



Sunday, September 13th 2-4 PM

Meet at Ellie Iron's Bushwick studio, 1381 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237


Questions? Email rebecca.posner@atlasobscura.com