Homemade oil paint is created by combining linseed oil and pigment until a satisfactory consistency is achieved. It’s surprisingly easy to make, but time consuming, with only a few key materials. Manufacturing oil paint is very complex, and various techniques and machinery are used to achieve the perfect consistency and color range. Because oil paints from manufacturers are sometimes stored for long periods, stabilizers and preservatives are added to make it last longer.
Some artists who want “pure” oil paint, and total control over the creation process, choose to make their own.
Why would artists make their own oil paint?
- Making oil paint yourself will save money. It is much cheaper to make your own than buying from an art store.
- It will give you more control over the outcome. With practice, you can create the exact colors needed for a painting. If you want bright and bold colors, just add lots of pigment. Also, you can create a distinct paint recipe all your own using other materials such as wax, stand oil, and various ingredients.
- You will grow closer to your materials. Handling your material through all steps of the creation process will draw you closer to it.
Be Cautious With Pigments
Some pigments have hazardous materials which are poisonous. To avoid breathing it in, you should wear a face mask, safety goggles to protect your eyes, and rubber gloves. Mix them in a well ventilated area, and very slowly to cut down on particles flying into the air.
Materials for Making Oil Paint
- Binders – Linseed oil is the best binder for starting off with. When you are very familiar with the process, you can experiment with other mediums such as stand oil, or your own medium.
- Grinding Slab – A sheet of glass will do, but some use a marble slab.
- Pigments – Pigments can be purchased in small amounts or in bulk at some art supply stores. Have your pigment ready, but do not open it until you are ready to begin, and close securely when finished mixing.
- Palette knife – Use either a metal or plastic palette knife.
- A Muller – To grind small amounts of the mixture.
- Empty paint tubes – Some art supply stores carry these. If you cannot buy them locally, they can be found online.
Timing and Recording Data
Different pigments require different times to completely mix. When combining the ingredients, have a timer nearby, and record the amount of time it takes in a chart. In this way, you will be able to refer to the times for specific pigments when making oil paint at another time.
How to Make Oil Paint
- Place some pigment on the grinding slab and pour in a small amount of linseed oil.
- Use the palette knife to mix the linseed oil into the pigment very slowly. Be very patient, and avoid particles from going into the air.
- When completely mixed, you may have to add either more pigment or linseed oil to improve the consistency.
- Move the entire amount to one side of the glass, and place about a tablespoon full in the center. Use the muller to grind the paint in a circular motion, and avoid excess pressure. When finished with this amount, place it to one side of the glass and use the muller for the rest.
- Move all the paint to the center. If you need to add more pigment or linseed oil, you may have to go through the same process again. When you achieve a soft, buttery consistency, pick up the paint with the palette knife and place it into the empty paint tubes.
- Fold up the bottom when completed, and use pliers to make an air tight seal.
- Then, use a marker to label the paint tube with the color and date.
Congratulations! You just created oil paint! It may have taken a bit of time, but after you do it a few times, you will find the process becoming much easier.
Have you ever made your own oil paint? Have you created it an a slightly different way? Have you created different mixtures using this process with materials such as wax?