Workshops at the Garden : Soil Painting

I never thought it would be possible to paint with soil until I experienced it during the first I.Matter Sinag Creative Expressions Camp. I remember feeling like I was being healed, as each brush danced on the canvas. I wouldn’t have learned how to do it if it wasn’t for the Talaandig boys. They were there to guide and they weren’t strict when it came to the structure. They didn’t force the elements to come together. As I shared with them my apprehensions about messing up, they comforted me by saying “forget about the structure, it’s all in your mind.. go with the flow and everything will follow”.

Since the first camp, we made it a point to include the soil painting workshop in almost all of the activities of the Kids for Peace Foundation, Inc. Wanting to share the knowledge to the children and young people in Cotabato City, we organized a soil painting workshop for them (with permission from the Talaandig boys, of course). The workshop was held last May 3-5, facilitated by James Ryan Buenacosa. We had six kids, all excited to learn how to paint with soil.

First, they were taught how to shade. James prepared a sun painting for the kids to finish. They watched eagerly as James showed them how to shade and emphasize the light and dark sides of the painting so it doesn’t look flat.

Siblings Kevin and Angel learn how to shade.

When they were done, James showed them how to look for soil that they can use in painting. The kids quickly grabbed their tools and went around the garden to look for soil. With James’ permission, the kids started digging.

Excited to start painting, Angel and Iya fill their plastic cups with soil.

Once the kids were finished digging, James showed them how to properly mix soil, glue, and water. The ratio between the three elements determined the darkness or lightness of the colors so the kids paid close attention.

With close supervision from James, Ayi pours some glue in the cup.

When they were finished mixing the soil with water and glue, the kids quickly went to their spots in the garden and started painting. Some already had an idea of what they wanted to paint while some asked their classmates for suggestions. I remember telling them what the Talaanding boys told me once: “just go with the flow!”


The kids were all smiles when they finished their paintings. Some painted flowers, some painted animals, some had abstract paintings, and one painted the mascot of a fast food chain. The kids were happy to see their paintings on display when they arrived the next day. It felt like their works were in an exhibit, according to some of them.


Seeing their works on display made them even more excited to start working on their second painting but since James wanted the workshop to be memorable, they played some games first.

Spreading the “break clap” virus one workshop at a time.

While the kids were thinking of what to paint for Day 2, James suggested that they paint something for Mother’s Day. Some of the kids agreed that it would be nice to give their paintings as gifts to their moms. Here’s a picture of Iya painting something for her mom:


We had a great time sharing the knowledge to the kids. The garden was filled with laughter and creative energies for a good two days. The kids learned from us as much as we learned from them. It will be very hard to forget how their eyes sparkled when we told them that they can bring their paintings home (plus two more blank canvases for them to paint on). The good thing about soil painting is one need not buy expensive materials to paint. All you need is cloth to paint on, brush (or your fingers if it’s not available), and soil. To the kids who joined the soil workshop last May, thank you for sharing your talents with us. Until the next workshop!


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