It all started with a visit to an art shop in Venice where the delicious display of pigments in the window tempted me inside.
where the delights of making watercolour paint became apparently. Look at all those gorgeous colours lined up in shiny glass jars!
I had to have a go at making watercolour paint, starting with a festival in blues and then added 7 other colours to increase my Venetian palette. Unfortunately, these bags of loveliness don’t come with instructions. I had to start by researching a method and recipe.
Recipe for making watercolour paint.
Start by making a base for the pigment.
- 1 part gum arabic
- 3 parts warm water (I used very hot water as its easier to dissolve the gum arabic)
- 1 part glycerine
- 1 part honey (optional)
Then mix in pigment to the base in a 1:1 ratio.
In the first phase, its important to make sure the gum arabic is fully dissolved. In the second phase, mix until the paint is smooth. It takes longer than you think.
Once mixed, the pigments stay wet for much longer than the commercial tube paints. I presume this may be partly because of the glycerine and honey additions. The effect of this is to make the paint slow to dry on the paper.
I’m still getting to know these paints. I’ll be testing them next and will write about my results. For one thing, lightfastness on any of these is an unknown. I can’t use them in any paintings for sale until I know how they react over time.
I started with a small batch of each colour – and still have a (very small) jar full of each colour I bought. This is years of supply at the rate I paint.
It may not be necessary to go all the way to Italy to have a go at making your own paint. There is an art shop in London which supplies pigments, resins and gums. I’ve not been there before, but it looks as if its worth a visit.
A word of warning: I was careful to wash my hands thoroughly after making each batch of paint – its a messy business. Strictly speaking, I probably should also have used a dust mask as I don’t know the toxicity level of any of these pigments. I will be getting a good quality mask for future paint mixing and I would suggest it for anyone wanting to try making their own paint.