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Making oil paint
The use of extenders in oil paint

Consistency of oil paint
Making acrylic paint

How to make your paints ?

As was stated in the article “what is paint?”: making paint doesn’t have to be complicated. All there is to do is to forget about the universal ingredient that is pigment and make logical what the binder of the technique is. Once the logic of that binder has been understood, all that is left to do is mixing pigment and binder together in the right way.


The most common binder for oil paint is linseed oil. What makes linseed oil makes a binder of choice is the fact that it’s a siccative oil. Unlike other vegetable oils such as canola or olive oil, linseed oil reacts with oxygen (a process called oxidation), to slowly go from liquid to gel to a tough solid form, therefore we refer to it as siccative oil because it solidifies through oxidation

Linseed oil is not the only siccative oil; therefore not the only oil we could use, poppy seed, safflower or walnut oil are semi-siccative oils that can also be used to make oil paints.

It's important to realize that this oxidation does not stop when the painting seems to be "dry", but goes on for years. We should also keep in mind that oil paint is a dynamic technique that’s keeps on changing (to react or oxidize) bringing about yellowing, darkening or even cracking even after its completion. In short, oil paintign is a living art.

Making your own oil paint      back to the top of the page

(Click here to see a virtual demonstration with pictures)

Here's what you need to make your own paint:

Here are the steps to follow:
incorporate the oil and pigments
  1. Take a sufficient amount of pigment for your painting session and drop it onto the glass.
  2. Gradually add a little oil to wet the pigments by mixing them with your spatula. Once the pigments are wet, you should have something that looks like oil paint, but with a fairly crude granular appearance.
  3. We must now disperse pigments.  Thoroughly mix the pigments and binder by grinding with the flat surface of the spatula. You will find that the lumps (or aggregates) will diminish and become smaller and smaller. You will also witness a change in the consistency and color of the substance.

We recommend that you use a muller when you prepare a large quantity of oil paint, or if you want a very fine paint. However, a simple spatula will work very well for small quantities:  you can even use putty spatulas that are sold in hardware stores.

Using fillers in oil paint      back to the top of the page

Fillers, also known as inert pigments or pigment load, are traditionally used in oil painting. Even if they sometimes had bad press, several extenders have desirable properties for the manufacturing of oil paint. If used sparingly, they can save money while allowing for better control of the texture of oil paint.

Barium sulfate and aluminum hydroxide are the two most common extenders. They are in fact white pigments (Pw21, Pw24) that have a low tinting power. When you add these pigments to your paint, you get a greater volume of paint without altering color. In addition, the fillers also play a role in stabilizing the oil colors (especially the hydrates and aluminum stearate).

We suggest not adding more than 25% fillers in the mixture; otherwise the color could be altered. The savings are much more noticeable when using extenders with expensive pigments such as cadmiums or cobalts.

The consistency of oil paint      back to the top of the page

When you begin grinding your pigments, you will find that certain colors change consistency after a while. This phenomenon is quite normal, and has nothing to do with the quality of the pigments.One of the most striking examples is probably ultramarine blue. When prepared in oil, without extender, the pasty texture is gradually transformed into anunpleasant liquid, similar to molasses.

The solution to this problem is to add a stabilizer to the paint. Hydrate or aluminum stearate, and especially beeswax paste is generally used to control the consistency of paint. Our experience has shown that Kama Pigments’ beeswax paste corrects this problem very well if it is incorporated in grinding of oil paint.

II.ACRYLIC PAINT      back to the top of the page

The binder for the acrylic paint is called "acrylic emulsion polymer", and you can get it in different forms when you buy acrylic mediums

Unlike drying oils which oxidize, the acrylic dries by evaporation of water (and the various liquid solvents) to form a tough, flexible film of paint. This polymer can be purchased in various forms: gel, liquid or impasto mediums (either glossy or matte).

Making acrylic paint      back to the top of the page

(Click here to see a virtual demonstration with pictures)

The easiest way to make acrylic paint is to use Aqua-dispersions of pigments, which are sold already prepared. When you prepare oil paint, you can take your time to mix the pigments and binder together, however, with acrylic paint, time is limited because the acrylic binder dries very fast. It is therefore difficult, when using dry pigments, to obtain a smooth and well dispersed paint. The Aqua-dispersions mix easily with acrylic mediums to produce a high quality paint in a jiffy.

It is also possible to make acrylic paint without the Aqua Dispersions mix, as with all other water based techniques from dry pigments. To do so, you have to mix the dry pigments with water, making sure they are well dispersed. You can then incorporate this homemade dispersion in the acrylic binder, and mix again. For lighter pigments such as organic pigments, it is much easier to replace the water with rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl) to prevent the pigments from floating on the surface of the water.

III. GOUACHE & WATERCOLOR      back to the top of the page

(Click here to see a virtual demonstration with pictures)

The binder for gouache and watercolor is gum arabic. which comes naturally from acacia trees. We have a good recipe to make your own gum arabic solution in our recipes section, we suggest you take a look.

To make your own watercolor we again recommend that you to use the dispersions of pigments which is even more important in that technique. By adding drops of dispersions in the solution, you will instantly obtain transparent watercolor. To get an opaque gouache, simply mix either talc, zinc white or china clay into a paste using the same solution and add your dispersions or pigments.

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