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A difficult question Only you know the answer
An artists passion is a very personal thing. For some their materials are not important, and are given little thought, but for others their materials are symbolic of the struggle to create, they are tools of emotional freedom or slavery. Some want just to be in touch with the things that are at the center of their world. Yet there are also those who  are fundamentally offended by giant industrial complexes ruling the creative urge.

For all that these artistic lives are entwined in this subject there are some very real practical issues that need to be dealt with before delving into the basic constituents of our colors. here is a summary of some of the more important to consider. Please read the disadvantages section before proceeding. Health and safety are important considerations and the other problems mentioned are real and cannot be ignored.


Advantages There are lots of reasons to make paint
Greg Hansell makes his art materials from the clays that he finds as he is making his artworks. His landscapes are literally made from the colors he sees. Although he is limited to subdued Earth colors, they have a harmonious beauty that is complimented by the sheer poetry of seeing the very Earth that he is painting making the picture. Greg's work is the best reason I know for making your own art materials. Pictures of Greg Hansell's work.    Another page with info on Greg Hansell

The calligrapher making stick ink with traditional equipment is able to reach back in time to invoke artistic energies from across the ages. They understand why it is that making ones own materials can form part of the magic of creativity. Reason number 2.

At number 3 is the beauty of the color. You are able to control precisely what goes into the paint and thereby the purity of the paint, and also the concentration of pigment to binder. There is little if any commercially made paint that has no additives whatsoever. Your paint could be 100% pure if you choose, and the difference you will be able to see.

On a less poetic level, at position 4 is the cost. it depends on the color, and paradoxically you save the most on the cheapest colors like the earth colors and Titanium White. Artists usually don't expect this as they are very aware of the high cost of some colors in the tube and seem to equate the higher price with greedy profits. In fact what is more relevant is percentage cost. Earth colors cost a pittance, even for a truckload. That tube of series 1 yellow ochre may well be 50% profit, but another pigment may cost as much as several hundred dollars a kilogram. That tube may be series 5 but be only 10% profit because there is a limit to how much they can charge for a tube of paint. Add to that the discount they get on buying larger quantities of pigment compared to you and you realize that some colors can cost you more to make. Even so, the majority of the colors that you are likely to make will cost you less.

At 5 is the ability to make colors that no manufacturer makes. There may be a particular red or green that you love, or that is distinctively yours. There have been cases of artists registering protection over a certain color and preventing other artists from using 'their' color. The intense deep shade of ultramarine used by Yves Klein is an example of this.

Reason 6 is closely related to 5. Making your own paint means you can adjust the paint characteristics to suit yourself and your working methods. Your paint becomes totally individualistic.

The 7th reason the intimate knowledge of your paint you gain. This is demonstrated in the wonderful skills of the old masters. This grew out of an intuitive understanding of their paint at every level. That is a powerful tool to put in the hands of an artist.


Disadvantages And plenty of reasons not to
Leading this list is a real big one. Quality. Unless you go out and spend squillions on a super-duper motorized triple rolling mill like the big companies have then it is almost impossible to disperse the pigment in the vehicle as well as machines can do it. By today's standards old master paint is technically of poorer quality. But here is where subjective quality enters the equation. There are many artists who find extra beauty in the coarser, slightly less perfected paints of yesteryear. I tend to agree with that notion, but rationally, I have to put this down as a technical disadvantage despite the evidence of my heart.

It takes time to learn how to get the best paint. Anyone can make a 'paint' in just a few minutes. Only time teaches you the subtleties that make for extraordinary paint. You need patience and the ability to record each batch so that you can learn from your experience at the slab. Reason 2.

3. It can be laborious. Most things can be exciting the first time round, but by the 10th time it is much less so.

Reason number 4 is that the individualistic characteristics of very pure pigments can be disconcerting and not necessarily suit your working style as an artist. After all there is good reason beside profit for all those fillers and other adulterants in commercially made paint.

Reason 5 is cost. I know it is also on the advantages side. but the colors artists most want to save money on (the expensive ones) are the ones that are least likely to save any money at all and in some cases it costs more to make certain colors than to buy them ready made in a tube.


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