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Making oil Paint from Pigment

Hello everybody. I am new to the forum but I have watched many Draw Mix Paint videos and because of this I have a new easel I built, pallette and table, brush holder and dip, hand stretched linens, and sdm recipe and paints that replicate the Geneva brand. I love Mark Carder's techiniques and valuable knowledge and I am so grateful for him and this space. 

I want to experiment with making my own paint from pigment with a meuller and I love Mark's sdm recipe but I remember him saying that adding it to paints without additives is a lot different. I am currently deciding whether or not I want to hack up my door and window to create an indoor studio with ventilation and my wife is not on the same page with that plan. I decided if I could make solventless paints both for the experience and for the ventilation problem I could kill two birds with one stone. 

So this brought me to the idea that maybe eliminating the oderless mineral spirits from the sdm recipe and adding less to the fresh made paint would give me the same reault as my previous mixture of manufactured paint with the medium. I was also thinking of maybe replacing the oms with lavender spike oil or Zest It citrus cleaner. I have heard mixed reviews on Zest It and and am not sure if lavender spike oil can be substituted for oms and what ratio to tweak the recipe as a starting point. Would I be able to just eliminate the oms all together and only add stand oil, linseed oil, vt, and clove oil to the handmade paint to thin it down enough? If I add more linseed oil to the last layers of paint if not working in alla prima won't this solve the fat over lean problem? And will all the remaining ingredients be safe to paint with in a room with just an open window for ventilation since they come from flax seed, clove and larch tree?  


  • wskjensen

    Welcome to the Forum.

    Gamblin make a non solvent gel and a medium. Yes you can eliminate solvents.

    The fat over lean is only an issue with multi layer paintings. Mark’s direct method of a wet on wet, single layer is not affected by this problem if you use a lean toning layer.

    Geneva paint will deliver all you are looking for in oil paint, without all the labor and expense.


  • Thanks Denis, 

    I am definetly going to get some geneva paint. I think it would make sense to get the cadmiums and phthalo since there are inherent risks with mulling those pigments. But just for fun I want to grind some pigments to compare and test against geneva paints as well. Plus it is hard to resist at 6-9 dollars for 125 g and the prospect of using less sdm. 

    Just to clarify, if making paints from pigment, with the understanding that they need less thinning, can oms be eliminated without a substitute? 

    I try to understand each ingredients role in the sdm recipe. My understanding is that the stand oil and venice turpentine are levelers, the clove oil aids in increasing drying time by prolonging oxidation and the linseed oil and oms are thinners? Are there other effects from the oms that I am looking past that aid in the handling or strength of the paint film? Thanks for helping clear this up for me. 
  • wskjensen

    Plus it is hard to resist at 6-9 dollars for 125 g and the prospect of using less sdm. 
    By the time you have brought together all of the required cleaning, grinding, measuring, scooping and containment equipment and materials the price will be way beyond a set of Geneva paints.

    I understand your enthusiasm and wish you every success.

    The issue with a non solvent mix is getting consistency right without flooding the mix with oil.
    Solvent has the benefit of evaporating quickly once the pigment and oil is dispersed on the canvas.
    If you are a seasoned painter there should be no problem. If this is your first adventure in oil paint I would suggest a non solvent subsitute to get the consistency to the 'fall off the knife' tomato ketchup standard Mark recommends.

    Pretty spot on with the component attributes. I would add that VT also improves gloss level in the dried paint and LO adds strength and durability to the polymer surface.

    Finally, I have satisfactorily painted with just stand oil as an additive. Similarly walnut oil works as a stand alone additive. Liquin also performs well as a stand alone medium. Just don't expect a long open time without CO and VT.


  • Would it be better to mix pigment with oils (plus solvent substitute) and contain them before adding sdm? @dencal .
  • BOB73

    Yes! Though I would add the solvent substitute with the SDM.

    Dry pigment and oil gets to the stage I call tube color. Mixing with SDM creates stock color in the familiar four colors plus black and white. Mixing small amounts of the colors together makes my value strings held in half oz snapcaps.

  • Did you know the word CHART is a derivative of the two words CHAOS and ART?
  • I made some black paint once and it was a fun experiment.  Get a charcoal bricket and grind up a piece.  Strain it thru a screen or cloth.  Gradually add linseed oil and work it in.  You now have traditional carbon black made the way Rembrandt used it.  It will convince you to buy your paint.
    I did the math, it costs the same to buy five tubes of paint from mark as it does to make sdm, all the other stuff and mix it up.  Plus, Mark’s is non toxic.  
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