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Making Artist's Paint An Easy To Follow Guide
By Tony Johansen, Director, East Sydney Academy Of Art

At one time all paint was made in the studio, usually by the apprentices from their first year and itinerant journeymen. Due to the deep understanding every artist had of the properties of the paints they were making it was easy for the artists of the day to produce artworks of intense beauty and great durability that testify to the skills and knowledge gained grinding colors for their master in their early years.

There are many reasons for an artist to make their own paint even today. Despite this need there are surprisingly few places for the average artist to learn these old master skills. Even the internet offers little in the way of easy to find practical resources for the artist wanting to make paint. Hence this site, with its series of articles and demonstrations seeks at the one site to acquaint the artist with the basics of paint making, reveal some of the important background information you need, and then point the way to further resources on the web.

Note For Conservators
This site was written specifically for working artist's and so uses language addressed to the artist. The conservator will, however, find much helpful information here. The techniques described, the history and background information, and the ingredients information and lists of suppliers of historic materials are all based on historic documentation from Pliny the Elder in the years before the Christian era to the latest investigative offerings including treatises written at important points in time relevant to the use of all major paint media used since Ancient Greco-Roman times to the present day. This current work offers practical working methods relevant to the conservator working with early paintings, and sources of supplies of pigments and many of the art materials available to artist's working in Europe during the last 5,000 years, so far as is known in the present day, and by prehistoric peoples everywhere, going back to the beginnings of human art making. Some of the suppliers of pigments and other materials listed on the links page supply materials for the conservation of the world's great masterpieces as a central function of their business.

Getting Started How To Use This Site
The Site Map helps you find where everything is. The site is designed around the 3 areas of 'Techniques of making paint', 'Background Information', and 'Ingredients'. There are 55 pages in total but only 12 on the menu bar The Site Map guides you to the hidden additional pages and of course relevant links to further info are on various pages.

The Demonstration has an emphasis on making of oil paint because that is what most people want to do, but there is ample information on the making of other media. The media introduced here are Oils, Alkyds, Acrylics, Egg Tempera, Watercolor, Gouache, and Encaustic. How to make Pastels and hard Chalks is also included in the demonstration. The demonstration applies across all paint types. All paint making shares some essential similarities. The differences to be aware of when making watercolor for instance instead of oil paint is explained on appropriate linked pages.

There is a data base of historic pigments used by artist's down the centuries and millennia. There are also detailed notes on the latest products of paint laboratories. This site tries not to advocate one approach or another although the dangers and limitations of many older colors are pointed out.

This site has a central ethos of practical usage for the average artist in the average professional studio. Simplified ways of doing some things are described where something might otherwise require special training. Testing for light fastness for instance is described in a way that the scientific community might not accept, but that the average artist can easily do, and get useful results from. Acrylics and Alkyds are not as easy to formulate from base ingredients as other paints, so all that is offered is a way to use ready made mediums as paint bases, and as a way for the average artist to get color on canvas in as simple and quick way as possible.

So Let's Make Paint And Let's Have Fun Doing It
Making your own paint opens up a whole universe of new possibilities both creatively and practically. While we reach back to borrow old master techniques, they are just as fresh and fundamental to contemporary arts practice as they were to those old masters. There is a sense of empowerment when you are not 100% reliant on the giant manufacturing industries. Best of all is the discovery of the fun as well as the inevitable frustrations that are part of this exciting field of exploration. So, it's time to click on a menu button and follow your imagination. Let's do it!


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