On Justin's daily winding drive over Scott Mountain, he passes a natural wonder: the rusty, Mars-scape dirt that is Trinity County's signature. He pulled over at a spot where the blazing red hue screamed from the embankment and scooped some into an XL pickle jar, bringing me a solid three pounds of this magical earth to experiment with making natural paints.
   While grinding the sediment down with my mortar and pestle did make me feel like a Rennaisance painting apprentice to Leonardo DaVinci, mixing up an earth-based paint was actually pretty simple. I made both egg tempera by mixing egg whites with the pigment and a water-color style paint using a 1:4 ratio of gum arabic to red dirt. 
   Some of the paint was grittier than I wanted because I discovered that you REALLY have to grind it up quite a bit!
   Justin told me that with every commute he observes more different shades of Trinity Red Dirt, he intends to bring more pickle jars home in the future!