Tag Archives: pigment

Benefits of Making Your Own Paints

Did you know that you can easily and affordably make your own paints right at home? The supplies needed to make oil paints, acrylics, watercolors or pastels are fairly inexpensive and they can be easily purchased online or at a local shop. You don’t need a giant studio or an excessive amount of supplies to make your own paints – all you need are a few basic ingredients pertinent to each medium, and a tabletop that you can use as your work area.

You might wonder, “Why should I bother making my own paints?”

There are a number of reasons why it is beneficial for artists to make their own paints. For starters, when you break down a specific medium to its individual components, it helps you to understand the nature of the medium. Taking part in the process of creating an oil paint or a pastel stick provides invaluable insight into the qualities of that particular medium. Plus, the magic of watching loose powdered pigment transform into a usable paint can become part of the overall creative experience.

One of the best things about making your own paints is that you can control the hue, value and intensity of each color. If you need a specific shade of green that is difficult to mix using commercial paints, you can create your own. If you need a range of blues to create skyscapes and seascapes, you can create the exact colors that you need and save them for future use.

It’s easy to forget that there was once a time when all artists either had to make their own paints or purchase these supplies from a local artisan. The vast majority of artists today buy their paints and art materials off the shelf. Most artists don’t even think twice about how these materials are made or what is actually in them. This has changed our relationships to our art materials. By making your own paints, you can reinvigorate your connection to the materials that you use to create art.

In future articles, we’ll take a closer look at the process involved for making oil paints, pastels, watercolors and acrylics.

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How to Make Your Own Oil Paints

In a previous blog post, we discussed the benefits of making your own paints, rather than buying commercially-made paints from art supply stores. Two of the most appealing reasons for making your own paints include the ability to control the color and the quantity of the paint that you make. In today’s blog post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at how you can make your own oil paints using just a few simple supplies.

The two main ingredients you’ll need for making your own oil paints are powdered pigment and an oil, such as linseed oil (which most oil painters usually have on hand anyway). The tools you’ll need to mix the ingredients can either be a mortar and pestle (shown above), or a sturdy spatula and a flat glass surface. The mortar and pestle is the preferred choice because it will allow you to grind the pigment into finer particles.

To make your own oil paint, place your desired amount of pigment onto the glass surface or into the mortar. Add a small amount of oil and grind together the pigment and the oil using your pestle or spatula. Be sure to start off with a small amount of oil, because you don’t want your mixture to be too runny.

As the pigment absorbs the oil, note the consistency. If the mixture looks too dry, add more oil. If it is too oily, add more pigment. Your goal is to create a mixture that resembles the consistency of toothpaste.

Once the pigment and oil are thoroughly mixed, then you are ready to paint! The process is as simple as that. Your homemade oil paint can be mixed with commercially-made oil paints, and it may be stored in tubes or airtight jars for future use. segmation dot com.

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The Lingo of Color www.segmation.com

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It is said that the human eye can discern between 1 million and 7 million colors. Do you think you could name them all?

Most people can easily identify the 3 primary colors (red, yellow, blue), and the three secondary colors (orange, green and purple), plus white and black. It’s their many mixtures, variants, tints and shades that cause a stumbling block when it comes to identifying colors.

Because of their familiarity with pigments, artists have a slew of color names at their disposal when it comes to naming colors. (For instance, “I painted a Cerulean sky over an Ultramarine ocean, tinged with hints of Light Hansa.”) These terms may leave non-artists scratching their heads. Where do these color names originate?

As we discussed in a previous article, some artist pigments are named for the material that they are made from (cobalt blue, made from cobalt), or the place where they the pigments first came from (burnt sienna, from Sienna, Italy). Other colors are named for the person who first discovered the pigment that could be used to create the color (fuchsia, named for the German scientist Leonard Fuchs).

The complexity of color is difficult to pin down with the limitations of language – especially when one person claims to see lavender while another argues that the color is actually lilac. Aside from the necessity of naming pigments and hues for color-matching purposes, perhaps many color names are best left to the imagination, where poetic expressiveness can assign the most appropriate color name for that particular purpose and moment.

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The Many Different Hues of Blue

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If you want to paint a seascape with soaring blue skies and rippling blue water, you might go to the art supply store and stand in awe at the sheer range of blues available with different shades, tints, and variations in hue. For instance, a major paint manufacturer offers at least 15 different types of blue, from Cerulean Blue on the lighter end of the spectrum to Indigo Blue on the darker end.

The more you work with your paints, the more you’ll intuitively recognize which tube of blue to choose when you need to paint blue eyes, a bluebird or a deep blue sea. Although the distinct characteristics of each blue might be familiar to you, do you know where the name for each particular color comes from?

As we discussed in a previous article on the origins of color names for artist pigments, many paint colors derive their names from what they are made of: for instance, Phthalo Blue is named for the synthetic pigment Phthalocyanine, and Cobalt Blue is named for the lustrous metal cobalt, etc.

Let’s explore where some of these other blues get their color names:

  • Anthraquinone Blue – “Anthraquinone” is an organic compound that forms the basis for many dyes.
  • Cerulean Blue – “Cerulean” has its roots in the Latin word caelum which means heaven or sky.
  • Indigo – “Indigo” is named for the Indigofera genus, many plants of which are used as a dye.
  • Navy blue – The color “Navy blue” is named for the dark blue uniforms worn by officers in the British Royal Navy and was first used as a color name in 1840.
  • Primary Cyan – “Cyan” comes from the Greek word kýanos, which means dark blue substance.
  • Ultramarine blue – “Ultramarine” derives from the Latin word ultramarines which means beyond the sea.

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A Closer Look at the Color Red

How do you feel when you gaze at a large red Rothko painting, spend time in a room with regal red wallpaper, or see a stop sign?  While the color red carries different meanings depending on its context, the body’s biological response is the same: red can raise both your pulse and your blood pressure.  Additionally, red can even make you feel hungry by increasing your body’s metabolism – which is why many restaurants use the color red in their logos and decor!

Red is the longest visible light wave, ranging from light pinks to deep crimsons that have a wavelength between 610 and 780 nm.  Our modern word “red” comes from the Old English word rēad.  This warm, eye-catching color has strong meanings that tap into the heart of various human emotions and experiences, depending on the specific context in which it is found.

For instance, in Western culture, red can signify anger and aggression (as in “blood red” or “a face that turns red with anger”), but it can also denote love, lust and passion (from red roses to the red-light district).  It also functions as a strong warning color that represents danger or emergencies.

On the other hand, the color red in China is related to happiness and good fortune.  In both China and India, red is the traditional color for wedding dresses.  In Africa however, red is associated with death and mourning.

Red is one of the earliest pigments used by our prehistoric ancestors, who made red ochre pigment from clay to paint the walls of caves.  Red pigments have been created from several surprising sources, such as crushed cochineal insects used to make carmine red.  Madder lake derives from the roots of the madder plant, while vermilion was made from powdered mineral cinnabar, which is a red mercury ore.  These days, most red artists’ pigments are created synthetically in factories, including hues such as poppy red, cadmium red, rose, alizarin crimson, and quinacridrone magenta.

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How Pigments Create Color in Artist Mediums

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Have you ever wondered where the color in your paints actually comes from? For instance, what makes your ultramarine watercolors appear blue, and what makes your crimson pastels appear red? The answer is pigment. The pigments used to create artist mediums (such as paints, colored pencils, pastels, etc) consist of colored powder that is then mixed with various substances to create each specific medium.

The color intensity of each paint, pencil or pastel will depend on the ratio of pigment to filler. Filler is added to most commercial art mediums to “bulk up” the product. Higher quality art supplies will contain more pigment and less filler. Even though the result is a higher-priced medium, the cost is worth it for the better results that are achieved with the higher pigment content.

In addition to pigments, each medium has specific ingredients that give the medium its unique qualities:

  • Watercolors are created from a mixture of pigment and gum arabic (or synthetic glycol), which acts as a binder. Additives are often added to adjust the characteristics of the watercolors, altering qualities such as durability and sheen.
  • Acrylics consist of pigments dispersed in water and bound together with an acrylic medium.
  • Oil paints are made from a combination of pigments ground with an oil, such as linseed oil.
  • Pastels are a blend of pigments and a binder, such as gum tragacanth, gum arabic, or methyl cellulose. Pastels contain a higher percentage of pigment than any other art medium.

Commercially-made art mediums also typically contain preservatives and other ingredients, but you can easily make you own paints and pastels using the materials listed above, adjusting the hue and intensity of each color to your specific liking.

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The Benefits of Making Your Own Paints


Did you know that you can easily and affordably make your own paints right at home? The supplies needed to make oil paints, acrylics, watercolors or pastels are fairly inexpensive and they can be easily purchased online or at a local shop. You don’t need a giant studio or an excessive amount of supplies to make your own paints – all you need are a few basic ingredients pertinent to each medium, and a tabletop that you can use as your work area.

You might wonder, “Why should I bother making my own paints?”

There are a number of reasons why it is beneficial for artists to make their own paints. For starters, when you break down a specific medium to its individual components, it helps you to understand the nature of the medium. Taking part in the process of creating an oil paint or a pastel stick provides invaluable insight into the qualities of that particular medium. Plus, the magic of watching loose powdered pigment transform into a usable paint can become part of the overall creative experience.

One of the best things about making your own paints is that you can control the hue, value and intensity of each color. If you need a specific shade of green that is difficult to mix using commercial paints, you can create your own. If you need a range of blues to create skyscapes and seascapes, you can create the exact colors that you need and save them for future use.

It’s easy to forget that there was once a time when all artists either had to make their own paints or purchase these supplies from a local artisan. The vast majority of artists today buy their paints and art materials off the shelf. Most artists don’t even think twice about how these materials are made or what is actually in them. This has changed our relationships to our art materials. By making your own paints, you can reinvigorate your connection to the materials that you use to create art.

In future articles, we’ll take a closer look at the process involved for making oil paints, pastels, watercolors and acrylics.

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