Ecopsyched! + Solar Painting

It's ecopsyched!'s first blog post!

Ecopsyched! is an initiative to promote healthy relationships with nature, of which we’re part. The foundations of Ecopsyched! are rooted in the principles of ecopsychology (learn more about ecopsychology). That is, interaction with the natural world can bring about both physical and emotional benefits for humans, and in turn, benefits for the planet as we become better stewards.

Ecopsyched! is a platform for sharing stories of the human-nature connection that make us smile and chuckle and sometimes move us to tears. With the introductory podcast episodes live, Ecopsyched! is currently producing future episodes with release dates starting in August 2019. In the meantime, check in for blog posts about Ecopsyched! adventures, along with fun ideas for adventures you can have right in your own backyard. Subscribe to the Ecopsyched! newsletter to get the scoop!

You might start this long holiday weekend with an eco-art-making project that you can do right outside your home, while you’re camping or even during your beach vacation. Enjoy, and please share pictures of your eco masterpieces on the Ecopscyhed! Facebook page!

-Lisa B


Solar painting is an exciting form of ecological art for all seasons. You’ll have some input, yet the outcome is mostly unpredictable. I am always eager to see what hand nature will play in my solar paintings.

This is a great project for kids and adults. Little supervision for children is needed (if they are past the stage of eating paint and wandering off, that is).


  • Paper (watercolor paper works well)
  • Paints (watercolors and acrylics)
  • Tray (e.g. a paint tray from a home improvement store)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Spray bottle (filled with water)


Solar painting requires little instruction. It is an art of collaboration with nature and chance.

For each solar painting above, I placed a sheet of cold press watercolor paper in a paint tray. I dampened the paper with spritz from the water bottle, thicker in some areas than others. I laid cheesecloth over the paper and bunched it in areas. I then dabbed assorted acrylic paint colors on the cheesecloth and paper without expectations and placed the tray outside to weather. The best I could hope for was a hot sun, rain, strong wind, snow, animal tracks, a dust storm and so on.

I waited for a couple days before taking my tray inside to investigate. (You can do this for a shorter amount of time, though it’s advisable to give the piece time to dry outside.) As I removed the cheesecloth, curious shapes revealed themselves. With my paint brush and some black and white paint, I accented edges here and there and marveled at what appeared – characters and patterns that began to tell a story.

In contrast to my excitement, the images that appeared seemed dark in mood. At least, that was my initial perception of them. But I began to admire the life they gave to the paintings. The art-making was an engaging process between me and the natural elements.

You might consider using elements found in nature to shape your own artwork. Perhaps place an acorn cap or seashell on the paper before adding the paint. Or you might use organic earth paints and place your project on the ground in the hopes you’ll find footprints through the paint when you return. There are opportunities to collaborate with the enchanting outdoors everywhere you turn.

To explore more ideas for solar painting, visit the portfolio of Maxine Masterfield, an accomplished watercolor artist and author of Painting the Spirit of Nature and In Harmony with Nature.

Stay tuned to Ecopscyhed! for more outdoor fun!

Journal Ecopsychology
Maxine Masterfield
Organic Earth Paints
Painting the Spirit of Nature*
In Harmony with Nature*

*(paid link) You will not be charged additional fees for purchasing products through affiliate links.

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