image


The studio Organization and safety
A well laid out studio needs to consider 4 things, easy access to all tools and ingredients, appropriate storage, cleanliness so that colors are kept pure and contamination cannot occur, and that tools and work surfaces can be cleaned up easily, and safety, which is the most important consideration of all.

All powdered materials are hazardous to the health and pigments are no different. Even colors that are non toxic as made up paints need to be treated with caution in powdered form. There are many artist's colors used for their beauty and great permanence which are  either poisonous or potentially carcinogenic. Even pigments usually thought of by artists as  'safe' can hide  dangers. Umber whether burnt or raw contains Manganese. it is the  Manganese that gives it the dark brown color. Unfortunately Manganese is toxic.

The studio needs therefore to be organized well, to have pigments stored away from children, and even other adults who might not understand the dangers. Paint making should not be carried out in a cluttered space where there is a danger of spillage from tripping over things. There should be easy access to water and appropriate disposal facilities. The bench for grinding needs to be very sturdy and large enough to accommodate the grinding slab, pigments and basic tools. it should have good ventilation, but not be prone to gusts of wind that could blow powdered pigments into the air.

Once the studio is well organized we are ready to begin.


Pigments The colors of an artist's world
All pigments start as solid substances that are pulverized and ground into very tiny particles and it is only in this form they are ready for making into paint. If the pigments have been purchased from an artist's supply store, or from an industrial pigment supplier they should be already ground fine enough for all purposes. If however the artist is making pigments from natural earths and other sources, then the coloring agent will need to be ground as finely as it is possible to do. It is almost impossible to grind pigment by hand as finely as the machine ground pigments of industry, but many artist's regard this as an advantage. Never the less the ancients believed that the more finely a color is ground the better the color develops and this is a good rule of thumb to follow. The individual characteristics of different pigments are discussed here. Choose pigments bearing in mind the suitability for the paint medium being made. Any special safety requirements need to be addressed before opening any pigment container.


Other requirements Tools and binders
The binders appropriate to the paint being made needs to be put on the slab This can be as basic as fresh eggs for Tempera, or could be cold pressed Linseed oil for Oil Paint. Detailed information on binders is found here. Tools and safety equipment needs to be assembled now as well. In the photograph can be seen a glass muller, mortar and pestle and an assortment of pigments and binders. Spatula, palette knife, dust mask, empty tubes and all other necessary materials should now be assembled on or near the grinding slab. Detailed information about ingredients and tools can be found here:

Binders and other ingredients.

Tools and related equipment equipment.

Safety equipment.

You are now ready for the first step which is to make the pigment paste on the next page:
                            [ NEXT ]

Or go directly to any of these pages in the demonstration and related pages:

Basic Ingredients

Detailed Ingredients info

Testing paint

Starting to make paint (predispersal)

Making Oil Paints

Making Watercolors and Gouaches

Making Acrylic Paints

Making Egg Tempera

Making Hide Glue Chalk Gesso

Making Encaustic Paint

Making Fresco Colors

Making Pastels



-- References
Alberti, L B,    On Painting    1435 (Penguin Classics)
Cellini, B,    The Life Of Benvenuto Cellini,    finished 1562 but not published until 1730 (Heron)
Cennini, C d'A,    The Craftsman's Handbook.    1437 (Dover)
Doerner, M,    The Materials Of The Artist And Their Use In Painting,    1921 (Harcourt Brace)
Eastlake, Sir C L,    Materials For A History Of Oil Painting,    1847 (Dover)
Feller, R L,    Artists Pigments    1986 (National Gallery Of Art / Cambridge University)
Gettens, R J, and Stout, G L,      Painting Materials: A Short Encyclopedia,      1942 (Dover)
Gottsegen, M D,    A Manual Of Painting Materials And Techniques,    1987 (Harper & Row)
Maire, F,    Colors: What They Are And What To Expect Of Them,    1910 (Drake)
Mayer, R,   The Artists Handbook Of Materials And Techniques,    fifth edition 1991  (Faber & Faber)
Merrifield, Mrs. M P,    Medieval And Renaissance Treatises On The Arts Of Painting    1849 (Dover)
Muther, R,    The History Of Painting From The Fourth Century To The Early Nineteenth Century,    1907 (Putnam)
Parkhurst, D B,    The Painter In Oil   1898 (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard)
Patton, T C,    Pigment Handbook,    1973 (Wiley)
Porter, N      Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary,      1913 (Merriam)
Pliny, The Elder (Gaius Plinius),    Natural History,    77 AD (Penguin Classics)
Roy, A      Artist's Pigments: A Handbook Of Their History And Characteristics,      1994 (Oxford University Press)
Taubs, F,    A Guide To Traditional And Modern Painting Methods,    1963 (Thames & Hudson)
Theophilus,   On Divers Arts,    1125 (Dover)
Various,    Encyclopedia Britannica,    fifteenth edition 1981  (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc)
Various,    Paint And Painting,   1982,  (Winsor & Newton / The Tate Gallery)
Various,    The Artist's Colormen's Story,    1984 (Winsor & Newton)
Vasari, G,   The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors And Architects,    1568 (Penguin Classics)


Internet Resources  |  imageContact  | image Frequently Asked Questionsimage