What is Ochre, or Ocher
and how is it used?

Ochre is a type of hard clay made from old sediments collecting in an area.

Then over time drying out and becoming compressed by yet other sediments.

It is found in many places in the world and comes naturally in many different colors.

These colors include red, pink, yellow, white and Blue which is rare and is found in caves and along the coast.

Most ochre is found between the Kimberleys in Western Australia and Alice Springs in the center of the Northern Territory.

When found it is ground to a powder and then mixed with either saliva, egg, water or animal fat to make a paint.

It is however not permanent and must be maintained to keep a good image over time.

It is often repelled by bark acids being naturally released if it has not properly dried before the paint is applied.

It is however the oldest type of paint used in Australia with some dating back with touch-ups several thousands of years.

It is also painted in areas which have protection from the sun and other elements as the artists have learned of its fragile nature.

Painted message sticks and coolamons are often kept wrapped up away from the light.

Many other colors are made from the white adding different pigments either from man and animals like blood or pollen from plants.

Some modern artists mix Ocher with other acrylic paints in the same painting presenting a beautiful contrast of both earthy and bright colors.

Anything naturally occurring including sand, ash or charcoal may be mixed into the white or other colors to make a different color.

Because of its use and value it was often traded between tribes of various regional areas expanding the color palette of trading tribes.

Different Ochers have been found several hundreds of kilometers from its source which demonstrates it commercial use and desirability.