Compost Update

Hi Friends,

Three weeks ago I buried a small painting in my compost pile, expecting it to pick up some color from the decomposing plant matter. Here’s what the piece looked like before being buried. It was painted using natural earth pigments in a soy milk binder on raw cotton canvas, and it’s 16 x 20 inches.

Cassandra Tondro art

This week I dug it up and rinsed off the dirt. Here’s how it looks now.

Cassandra Tondro art

Holy cow! Where did all of the paint go? It looks like the compost somehow removed it. Does compost consume pigment?

I thought that perhaps washing the compost piece had removed the pigment. So I tried washing a similar piece and scrubbing it with a stiff brush. Here’s what that produced.

Cassandra Tondro art

Some of the pigment was removed and bled into the lighter areas, but not all of it.

The compost piece is what not what I was expecting, but I kind of like it. It will make a fabulous background. I’m thinking of doing some drawing on it, maybe in an off-white color. And I have another piece cooking in the compost pile!

How do you handle unexpected results? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



    1. I think you’re probably right about the soy milk protein, Chris. But I wonder how they extracted it from the canvas. And I’m surprised they didn’t eat the canvas as well!

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