Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mixing your own pure pigment oil paint

So, I haven't had much time to paint lately.  Have been working lots.  But, I have had a private commission I've been working on and also, have been researching and putting together some information on making paint.

I've often been curious about mixing my own oils from dry pigment but never delved into it.  I've seen a few other artists that have posted some about the subject, but I have learned most from my own research.  Probably what really peaked my interest was the great information found on "Dick Blick's" website about paint pigments and what each manufacturers names and pigments really were.  The second bit of inspiration was Marc Dallesio's painting blog, where as he talks about mixing paint from pigments as well as making his own painting mediums as classical artists did.  I have collected enough materials to experience the mixing of my own pure pigment paint, and here are a few photos and bit of description of each. I hope to continue this subject as a series of small informative articles as I learn and experience what it takes to mix your own paint like the old masters used to.

Please keep in mind that many pigments are quite toxic, and you should only try this while exercising safety and the proper protection for yourselves.  Always wear a dust mask and wear rubber gloves, and read the warning labels!!!!!

Some materials to start................
You'll need, of course some dry pigment, here I have chosen "Cadmium Orange Deep" from Sinopia.  You'll also need a surface to mix on, such as glass or marble, a muller( that big glass thing) some cold pressed linseed or walnut oil, some pallet knives and empty paint tubes to store your mixed paint in.


Carefully pour out approximately 30 grams of pigment, that jar you see above is 100 g.
Next make a little pocket in the middle, like putting gravy in your mashed potatoes.  Then add just a bit of oil, maybe a teaspoon to start, you'll have to add some as you mix it up to turn it into a paste like viscosity like peanut butter.  I actually ended up adding about  four times this much to get it to the consistency in the next photo.

This is what the mixture looks like after mixing the oil and pigment to form a paste.
Notice there is still some dry pigment to be mixed.

Now gather your pigment up into a nice pile and start to grind the pigment and oil together with the muller, this photo is about 10 revolutions with the muller.  You will notice that the pigment starts to get more liquidy as you grind it.

After a few more revolutions with the muller the paint really starts to get runny, at this point you'll want to add more pigment.

Here I've added more dry piment to thicken up the consistency and force more pigment into the oil.  What I'm after here is more like the lean paint of Old Holland paints.
This is about how your paint should look, notice that it is not runny, and there is not an oilyness look to it. I mixed about the same amount more so I could fill up a tube of about 37 to 40 ml.

Both of these piles of paint filled up my tube quite nicely.

So, here is my first tube of pure pigment oil paint.
I'll be back with more of this series soon.

16 comments:

Myrna said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INFORMATION. I HAVE MIXED MY PIGMENTS BUT THEY WERE TOO THIN. I ALSO WANT TO KNOW ABOUT LARGE QUANTITIES LIKE FOR A TEN FOOT ABSTRACT CANVAS (JACKSON POLLOCK) STYLE? WAS POLLOCK MIXING SPECIAL PIGMENTS IN GALLON QUANTITIES?

THANK YOU,

MYRNA

Joe Kresoja said...

very cool.

Larry Bates said...

Boy, I need to check more posts more often. I have them on moderation before being published so I don't see them unless I look.

Sorry.

Myrna, if your pigment mix is too thin you need to add more pigment. It's that simple. Don't try to mix up the whole batch of pigment that you have in your possesion all at once just in case you added too much oil, or binder. If this is the case, then you can suck some of the oil out by placing the pigment on a piece of paper to soak out the extra oil, or whatever binder you are using to make your paint. Ratios in mixtures are very important to maintain lest you end up with cakey paste or a liquidy mess.
As for Jackson Pollack I don't know what he did, but he painted large canvases so I suspect maybe he may have made his own paint, I don't know how easy or hard it was to get the materials then. It is very easy to get pigments now.

Larry Bates said...

Joe, thanks for your interest in my blog. Your work is also nice. I especially like the laundromat idea.

Larry

Andrew Osta said...

I like to mix the pigments very thin with varnish and use that for coats or washes and also I prefer very thin paint using pigments - it makes it very easy to make nice lines, like working with ink..

I am pretty sure pollock used industrial paint for most of his work

Anonymous said...

Jackson Pollock often used house paint, the kind used for actually painting houses, in order to do his drip paintings.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you would do a demo for acrylic?
I work in oil but thinking of switching to acrylic paint.
Cool post-- thank you it is helpful.
Sarah

Larry Bates said...

Sarah,

I do not mix acrylic pigments but the only difference is the binder used. I would look for acrylic binder. Check Kremer pigments in New York for , I believe the term is acrylic emulsion.

Hope that helps.

Unknown said...

Great images and information! I am considering making my own paint as well. What is the best way to get the paint into the tubes, and where do you get empty tubes?

Gena said...

Great post...I have a large Richteresque idea in mind and I know he uses oils and strains the paint as well. I'm wondering how to go about such a project on a large scale? thanks for you input.

Gena said...

Hi, thank you for the info! I would like to great a large scale abstract and I saw that Richter uses oils and strains it as well. Do you have any input on mixing oil pigments for large scale work and straining? best

Larry Bates said...

RE; Unkn "Great images and information! I am considering making my own paint as well. What is the best way to get the paint into the tubes, and where do you get empty tubes?own..."

I get paint tubes from the art supply store. If you cannot find them in your local store, do a search online. I believe you can get them at "Dick Blick" art store. I don't remember Kremers pigments having them. If they did they weren't the size I wanted.

Larry

Larry Bates said...

Gena,

Hi, thank you for the info! I would like to great a large scale abstract and I saw that Richter uses oils and strains it as well. Do you have any input on mixing oil pigments for large scale work and straining? best

Great post...I have a large Richteresque idea in mind and I know he uses oils and strains the paint as well. I'm wondering how to go about such a project on a large scale? thanks for you input.



I'm not sure that mix of paint would stand the test of time? Oil paint is mixed the way it is because of the chemical reactions and the binding qualities it has. Large amounts of oil and small amounts of pigment pretty much, at least "chemically" speaking amount to dirty oil. Oil has a tendency to crack with out much pigment in it. I believe someone said they used varnish? for more fluid lines. I think acrylic or egg tempera would be a better medium for this type of painting. Just my two cents.

Larry

Thierry Moutard-Martin said...

Hi Larry!
Thank you for posting these photographs and text. I am interested about the storage of your paint. Does it keep the same short consistency when you squeeze it from the tube after a while (lets say two weeks)?

Larry Bates said...

Hello Thiery,
The short answer to your question is yes. I add aluminum stearate paste to the paint before tubing it. It helps with keeping the pigment and oil from separating, it also helps it with drying. I have found if the paint is too short it will dry up in the tube, unless you of course use it up before hand.

Larry Bates said...

Thiery,
Yes, two weeks should not have any noticeable difference in the consistency.

Larry