Frequently Asked Questions

Are your watercolors lightfast?

All of our soil-based watercolors have good or excellent lightfastness. Information about lightfastness can be found here and is noted for each color here.

Where can I learn more about each color?

Soil-based watercolor names and numbers are listed here. All of our soil-based watercolors are created with soils that we hand-collect with permission in Wyoming plus added natural earth or synthetic pigment.

Do you offer vegan watercolors?

Some of our soil-based watercolors are made without adding honey. Specifically, the climate-inspired collection and coastal ecosystem. Look for "w/o honey" noted in the color description here.

What do each of the ingredients in the watercolor media do?

Water is used to create a liquid paint that can be mulled. Gum Arabic (aka Acacia gum & sap from the Acacia tree) is the binder – this material coats the pigment particles and allows them to adhere to the painting surface. Vegetable glycerin is used as a humectant or a substance that aids in rewetting of the dry paint. Honey is both a humectant and anti-microbial substance – deterring mold and other organisms from growing on the paints. Clove oil is also a natural anti-microbial substance.  

I only need a color or two – can I just order those?

We are unable to send out just a color or two at this time. We hope that by offering our pan-free ecosystems and collections, you are able to purchase a set or two that encompass the range of colors you prefer to work with.

Can I create a custom palette?

We love to work with our customers on creating custom palettes but are unable to do so for a single palette. If you are interested in ordering 20+ palettes with some customization, please reach out via email ( We are away from the studio for months at a time so loads of lead time are needed.

Can I use these soil-based watercolors on my skin?

Our ingredients are non-toxic for use as watercolor paint but are not approved by the FDA for application to the skin. You should not be concerned if you touch the paints (simply wash your hands with warm soapy water), but we do not encourage purposeful application to the skin.

One of the ecopods popped out of the palette - how do I attach it to the well?

Ecopods and mini ecopods can be reinserted by placing a drop of water in the well. Then gently press the paint back into the well. The water will activate the watercolor media in the ecopod. Once the water is dry - you can tip, move, and enjoy your palette. Simply painting (applying water) with your palette will also secure the ecopods well.

Are all of your soil-based watercolors natural?

No, we use some synthetic pigments to reach a color that is hard to find or found in small quantities in nature. These pigments are made in a lab rather than in nature. When synthetic pigments are used in a color - they are noted on our color information page as “soil + non-toxic synthetic pigment.” They are still dominated by soil minerals – just with an added kick of color.

Which colors are in the XYZ collection?

Here is a link to our color collections. The color names corresponding to the numbers can be found here.

Can I purchase your products locally in a shop?

Our paints and palettes are only available through our online shop. See the question below for why this is…

Do you offer wholesale?

The short answer is no. We haven’t been able to and aren’t sure we want to scale up to the point where we can make enough inventory to offer wholesale. At this time, we are constantly working to keep our products on our own shelves. Maybe one day we’ll move from our basement and garage studios into a spacious, energy-efficient warehouse – but that time in not now. :) If you want to work with us regarding a custom order for your organization or business, email us ( so we can discuss if/when we are able to take on custom orders.

Can I purchase raw pigments from you?

We do not sell the soil pigments we collect. If you are interested in foraging forpigments in your location, check out the Wild Pigment Project’s Reciprocal Foraging guidelines and safety guidelines and remember that soils are alive and you need to adhere to any local guidelines regarding transport of soils in addition to ensuring you have permission to collect materials.

Do you offer discounts/free shipping/sales?

We have several sales throughout the year and notify folks through our newsletter (subscribe by scrolling to the bottom of any page on our website and entering your email address). We also offer a seconds sale 1-2xs per year.

I really want to order XYZ but it’s out of stock – can I be notified when it’s available again?

Yes – click on the item that is out of stock and a box should appear where you can enter your email address. When the item is back in stock, you will receive an email. Also, newsletter subscribers will also be informed occasionally about restocked items – to sign up, add your email at the bottom of any page on our website.

Do you have any suggestions for supplies? Watercolor paper, brushes, etc.?

We have some thoughts on this - check out this getting started page for more.

Has the Art of Soil been written about? I’d like to learn more.

Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Yes - there are a few wonderful articles/stories listed on our press page.

Can you teach me how to make soil-based watercolor paint?

I do not offer any classes specifically on making soil-based watercolor paints, but I may one day. Here's a blog post that will help you get started. Here are some books you may enjoy: Book of Earth by Heidi Gustafson, Earthen Pigments: Hand-Gathering & Using Natural Colors in Art by Sandy Webster, The Organic Artist: Make Your Own Paint, Paper, Pigments, Prints and More from Nature by Nick Neddo; Wild Clay: Creating ceramics and glazes from natural and found resources by Matt Levy, Takuro Shibata, and Hitomi Shibata; and many more.  

Where should I look for colorful soils?

You can start by visiting your local soil survey / soil mapping entity (in the US, it's the United Stated Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service - Web Soil Survey) to learn more about what soils are mapped in your local area. My best advice is to slow down and start seeing soils. Look for clues that there are interesting geologic outcrops, changes in water table level, or areas that have exposed profiles (stream banks, construction sites, eroded areas). 

How do I know if I can collect soils in a particular area?

This is VERY important. You must have permission to collect soil or geologic material before grabbing a scoop. Please do your own research to learn about proper sampling etiquette. In my region, I am allowed to collect small amounts of soil and geologic material from many public lands - for personal use. Private lands have different rules and if you know the landowner, you may be able to collect from these lands. Consider where you are - what Native lands are you exploring? may help you better understand who to ask permission from - in addition to present-day landowners.  Wild Pigment Project offers a wonderful overview on Reciprocal Foraging.

Why soil and what gets you so excited about soils?

I am so glad you asked. I was tuned into soil science while taking a wonderful wetlands course in college. In that class I learned to apply all the core science disciplines - biology, chemistry, physics, etc. - to understand the living belowground ecosystem. When I realized I could put science into action - and be outside - and get dirty - I was hooked! Check out this short blog post on 500 Women Scientists.

Are there any resources available for people wanting to learn more about soils?

Yes – we've posted more about soils here.

When will my order ship?

Orders are shipped Monday through Friday. An order should go out within ~24 -48 hrs of being placed. We are using a shipping service and would love to hear feedback if you have an issues with your order - please email us at

How long will it take for me to receive my order?

This depends on where it’s headed. Using USPS and UPS domestically (USA) – you should receive your order in ~5 business days - BUT - things are changing with delivery and we are seeing orders take a little longer to arrive. International orders vary widely and may require some extra patience. I’ve seen an order take 7 days while another took 6 months. Since they are processed through customs and travel quite some distances – it can take a while. Have a look at the tracking information you received via email and keep an eye on it. Average delivery takes 3-5 weeks and of course can be longer during periods of high volume (winter holidays).

Why is the cost to ship internationally so high?

Truth be told, we lose money on international shipping. It costs a lot to ship a parcel from the US to outside the US. Even if you order a set of pan-free mini ecopods, they are treated as a package and cannot be slipped into a flat mailer. Also know that you (the buyer) may be charged customs fees and/or taxes as outlined by your home country. These are not the responsibility of the Art of Soil so please consider this when making an international purchase.

I'm ordering from outside the US and am having trouble checking out. I received the message: "Shipping not available. Items in the cart do not meet price or weight requirements to qualify for shipping."

We have an order minimum of $50 USD for international orders.

I received a tracking number but there haven’t been any/manyupdates – can you help?

Shoot, it stinks when this happens but, errors occur. Most of the time the carrier forgets to scan a package and it’s lost to the ether – until it happily arrives at your mailbox. If it’s been a while, you can email us ( to make sure it did in fact leave our location.

The tracking for my order says it was delivered but nothing is here – can you help?

There are a couple of reasons this happens (1) for whatever reason, the package was scanned as being delivered but it wasn’t – here we just wait a day or two to see if it arrives the following day; (2) the package was delivered to the wrong address – here we also wait to see if a nice neighbor walks the package over or leaves it out for the postal carrier to redeliver; (3) someone stole the package from your location – this is the last thought I have b/c the world is generally filled with good people – if this happens, email us ( so we can file a claim with the carrier and send off another package.