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Recently I've been trying to make my own paint buy just getting pigment and binders. So far it has been very successful, as I can make all kinds of paints from oils to watercolors. I kind of now prefer it over buying paints because I don't have to worry about the quality of the paint in terms of pigmentation. And also I don't have to buy a set of paints that differ from each medium. Although I am kinda of worried about trying to handle the poisonous pigments like Cadmiums, Colbalts, and Lead.
Dude, leave it to the pros.
They already bought all the expensive equipment so you don't have to.
My husband has made some paints for me and he's done a bunch of research on it. The results have been mixed, (ha ha) but he's getting the hang of it. As for poisonous pigments, some are not too bad as long as you avoid skin contact and wear a face mask (which you should be doing anyway), but pigments like cadmium and lead are toxic enough that I'd just avoid them. There are other options that are just as, or nearly as, lightfast and won't poison you or give you cancer.
Last edited by FallenGodX11; January 3rd, 2010 at 02:35 AM.
Hmmm...I think you can trust the top manufacturers (Gamblin, Old Holland, Sennelier, etc.) but that's neither here nor there. I've thought about making my own if just for the interest of it but it seems like it would be very expensive - especially for the amount of paint one can go through.
I'm curious as to what dry pigment brands you prefer? BlockX is the only one I even know of. I have some rather more experimental things I'd like to try with raw pigment...but then the toxicity factor becomes a concern. Can you recommend any books on mixing or using dry pigments?
Thanks for sharing!
Sinopia is good as a dry pigment brand and Gamblin. So far I've just only tried Sinopia and it was great.
Another reason why I like to make the paints is that you can determine what formula you want the paints to go in. Gamblin and Graham have alkali refined linseed or walnut oil. Alkali oils tend to dry faster. Old Holland mixtures is just pigment and cold pressed linseed oil, but with a lot of pigment, which is why their paints are stiff. Winsor Newton tends to put a lot of linseed oils in their mixtures, which is why when you squeeze a tube you get a lot of linseed oil gushing out.
I've haven't gotten any books on mixing paint. Information about mixing paint was from my art store that said all you need to do to make oil paints is just get linseed oil and pigments and grind them with a palette knife. I made a couple of small batches with burnt sienna and I was able to contol different competencies of the paint fom getting very think buy putting less linseed oil or very thin by putting more.
Making paint simply taught me that all paint is, is just pigment and binder. Very simple.
Next I want to try binding some of the pigments with some mediums like alkalies.
Err, no. While its true that some of the manufacturers, particularly in cheaper and student-grade lines of paint may use quite a lot of fillers, its still the case that for home-made paint, if you want to be able to store it reliably, tubed-up, you will need to add a bit of beeswax (around 1-2%) or a stearate to stop the pigment from separating out. Stand-oil is not a good choice as a mulling vehicle. The reason why some manufacturers use cold-pressed linseed is that it has a high acid-number (that is, a certain amount of hydrolysis of the triglycerides has taken place, increasing the amounts of free fatty acids), which aids wetting and dispersal of pigment particles. Newly-refined linseed tends to be low-acid-number as free fatty acids are removed by the processing.Originally Posted by FallenGodX11
You're likely to end up with a far oilier paint doing that than if you properly mulled the paint. Also, the pigment is very unlikely to be properly dispersed in the oil as single pigment particles, as its not possible to provide sufficient shearing forces to achieve this with a knife.Originally Posted by FallenGodX11
Personally, I mull using refined linseed or safflower together with about 10% sun-thickened oil, and add 1% of a thick beeswax-in-turpentine paste to the last of 3 passes under the muller. Initially, mix the pigment and oil to a crumbly-textured paste, and put it in small amounts under the muller, and mull briefly - you will see that the crumbly paste rapidly goes to loose oily consistency. Scrape up into a second pile, and process all of the crumbly paste in small lots. If its too runny, add more pigment powder, and pass under the muller again (it can also be beneficial to let the paint sit in a closed container overnight or longer, sealed from air by clingfilm. Mull again in small lots, after adding beeswax, and tube up. Its likely to take you a couple of hour's work to make enough paint for a 37ml tube. Note the idea of processing under the muller in small amounts - say about 1ml each time for a minute or two each on each pass - this is far more efficient, and a hell of a lot less messy, than trying to mull a large volume in one go.
Actually, this is in part due to their addition of a hydrogenated oil, its not entirely due to high pigment load. There are other premium manufacturers with equally-high pigment-load which do not handle as stiffly.Originally Posted by FallenGodX11
Most W&N colours are formulated with safflower, not linseed. Some oil-separation on storage is actually indicative of less use of stabilisers and fillers (which is why the artist-grade paint may show some separation, while the winton doesn't)Originally Posted by FallenGodX11
Once you've bought a glass slab and muller (and gloves, facemask) making your own paint can actually be cheaper - but doing it properly is a lot of hard work, and time-consuming. And - unless you are very careful - quality can be very variable. I tend to do it for pigments that I can only get dry, or where I want to vary the formulation of the paint as compared with commercially available.Originally Posted by JeffX99
Last edited by dcorc; January 3rd, 2010 at 06:24 AM.
Thanks for correcting me. I was just making statements based on what I've heard and tried when I made paints. Also do you really need a Muller? One of my friends who also made paints said that you don't really need a muller. Or could there be any substitutes like a glass jar?
Painting is quite tricky enough as it is without having to make my own paint or shave pigs for hand made brushes. It's 2010 y'know.
I'm perfectly happy to let that guy with the big paint squishing machine sort that part for me in exchange for some coins..
You have fun grinding away at that though, I'm sure it will be very authentic and old school..
While you wait for it to dry you should knit yourself a car or something.
Thanks Dave - you continue to earn my deepest respect. Would you mind if I asked a question or two through private message about the process? I have Ralph Mayer's "Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques" but it never answered my questions. I could ask here as well but it might not be relevant to the thread.
Anyway, thanks again - and thanks for an interesting thread Fallen.
I talked with my friend today about how he makes paint. He said as long as the pigment is well grind you don't need a Muller to mix the paint. He said you can just mix it by squeezing it with the palette knife for about an hour.
For a paint like egg tempera, making your own is the best way to go. I've also made my own casein and gouache, which usually takes more grinding, but that can often be done with just a palette knife or spatula. Just make sure the pigment is well coated and smooth. The main reason for making these paints is that what I can make is often much better than what I can buy.
There's too much time and effort involved for other mediums, and time is money for me. Watercolor needs to be very finely ground for washes to flow evenly, and oils or acrylics I'd just rather buy. I have often been able to make oils without needing to use a heavy muller, but it still requires quite a long time of mixing for them to be properly coated, usually with a flat metal spatula. If you want to make a large quantity of paint, then a muller makes it easier. Some pigments are clumped into pieces (aggregates) that need to at least be broken down in a mortar first. Ultramarine blue pigment in particular can be a real bitch to get it to behave in oil since it doesn't want to stay thick.
A glass muller will be much better than a jar. Most glass jars aren't flat on the bottom, and the handle makes it better for long periods of grinding. You'll also want a glass plate with a roughed surface.
Nowadays, commercially-available dry pigment for paint-making is usually very finely ground. The purpose of using a muller with this material is not to grind the pigment-particles smaller, but to apply shearing forces which ensure that aggregates of pigment particles are split up, and that particles are properly wetted and coated with oil. (Historically, pigment minerals were pounded/ground as finely as possible using a pestle and mortar, and then were further reduced by a final grinding with a muller using water, alcohol, or turpentine as a lubricant - before drying, and mulling into oil)
One test of how well you've dispersed your home-made oil-paint is whether you can tube it up and keep it, long-term. I can, I have tubes that are several years old where the paint handles just fine (though I've steered clear of ultramarine, since as dbclemons says, it's a technically problematic pigment, and its also inexpensive and readily-available as paint)
dbclemons also knows what he is talking about, and offers reliable advice.
For most of the people reading here, my overall advice in regard to oil-paint is that you'd be much better-off simply buying the paint commercially, and concentrating on developing painting skills, rather than paint-making skills.
Thanks for the nod there, Dave. I appreciate that.
Part of the process for making a water-based paint involves first grinding dry pigment and water into a thin liquid paste before adding a binder. Some pigment suppliers sell this as "aqua dispersions," which allows you to bypass the grinding process and just mix in the binder of your choice. Kama Pigments, Guerra, and Natural Pigments are places that sell them. You do have to account for the water present, and they're often more expensive than dry powder by volume, plus not all pigments are offered this way. Although they are intended for water-based paints, it would be possible to mix them with oils IF you also used an emulsifer like egg yolk or casein.
If you boil your own oil, you can make mixtures that dry faster than any store bought tube variety, which is rather useful too. Even if you continue to buy tube paints after learning, it's still enriching to know how they are made.
Edit: Someone mentioned that it takes an hour to grind one paint. It takes me 20 minutes to grind up an entire palette of paint which I use all day. Not sure if that is a difference in the binder or what, but with the ingredients I use, it's literally as simple as putting pigment and prepared oil on marble and grinding them together with a palette knife for 30 seconds.
Last edited by Derek the Usurper; January 4th, 2010 at 04:27 PM.
No, it takes you 20 mins to grind up an entire palette of pastes, which isn't actually quite the same thing. Its fast, and you can paint with them, but its not the technically correct way to go about it.Edit: Someone mentioned that it takes an hour to grind one paint. It takes me 20 minutes to grind up an entire palette of paint which I use all day. Not sure if that is a difference in the binder or what, but with the ingredients I use, it's literally as simple as putting pigment and prepared oil on marble and grinding them together with a palette knife for 30 seconds.
Here is a well written article by Reed Kay on grinding pigment for oil paint.
The Paintmaking site is also very informative.
If you only go as far as mixing a paste the pigment particles won't be properly coated or bound with medium. Once you grind it for awhile (@30 min or so) you can tell the difference. How long to grind will vary depending on the pigment.
A couple books I'd recommend are Ralph Mayer's "The Painter's Craft" or Mark Gottsegen's book "The Painter's Handbook."