Making Paint with Conor Walton

At least for me, this was just an interesting curiosity.  I have jumped so far into the deep end with so many other crafts that I do not intend to go that route with painting.  I have also bought so much paint, including several sets of Geneva paint, that I can't see the day I will need more. 

But what is interesting in this video is that Conor makes paint about as fast as you can mix a color.  He calls it 20 seconds.  All there is to it is to deposit a small pile of pigment powder on the  palette, a few drops of oil, and mix with a palette knife.  He says that works today because the pigments one can buy in bottles are twice as fine as the finest pre-industrial  pigments, and therefore one does not need a lot of expensive gear or elbow grease. 

Check it out if this kind of thing interests you, and you didn't see the video when it came out  a year ago.



  • edited September 2021
    Thx so much for sharing!
    I had some pigments sitting that I was intending to grind with a glass muller. I ended up not doing it scared I'm gonna waste the pigment if I did it with a palette knife.
    Well Connor Walton is absolutely right, I looked closely at the pigments I have and they're so fine you can do it with a palette knife.

    So, the ultramarine blue, lemon yellow and cadmium red deep is paint I made and it took me about 10 mins, it would take me less than that if I wasn't that anal. 

    The question is, are pigments less expensive than tubes, prob yes because the cost of manufacture is reduced. 
    Again thx for posting
  • Wow, did you make your own paints and do that lovely painting all since I posted the video.  Outstanding.  That painting really goes back, incredible depth.  Its a great painting, but it also almost like looking into a void.
  • I don't know about the pigments, it should be cheaper, though there are other reasons.  One that might appeal to some is the opportunity to make every pigment available in the same format, even though that does not guarantee a similar feel to each paint, at least you are working with known materials.

    And I like the idea it dries faster, of course there are cases for long open times, but getting it to dry faster without a lot of junk in there is worth something.

    Whose pigments did you use?
  • edited October 2021
    Thx, I just had to try the paint after I made it :)
    Ill try make some more when I get smaller tubes, I only have 10gr pigments at the moment, it's prob good enough for watercoulor pans.
    Personally I'm happy enough with the ready made paint, I'm looking to reduce the cost because I like the cadmiums and they're a bit pricy to buy them ready made. I'll do the experiment and post the update here.
    As you said, changing the characteristics of the paint is a plus that might interest other people . One can alter Drying times(less or more oil), use different binders, mix pigments.
    I wish I didn't buy tubes now, cause I also prob have paint for at least a full year.
    Next time I'll buy some pigments and experiment more with materials. 

    The pigments I used is from jacksons
    Here's the pigment numbers if anyone is interested :

    Interesting topic, Thx for posting
  • One thing I have to look up is the toxicity of the pigments. Don't wanna compromise my health just for the sake of making paint
  • I think Kremer has the MSDS for all the pigments.  I do a lot of boat building, and with powders, I prefer to mix out of doors.  I just know one can't keep that stuff out of the air and off surfaces.  But if you can mix outside in calm conditions, you can be safe.  But cadmiums one still doesn't want to accumulate on one's property.  I don't know if I would be comfortable, mixing as he does when required.
  • Marinos_88 mentioned. Children and pets are another consideration.

    Also, from my limited understanding of paint-making, manufacturers grind the paint, let it "rest" for a while, and then regrind. This supposedly gets the pigment particles more evenly dispersed among the oil. It could be that these extra steps are not necessary for a level of quality acceptable for home made paint. Plus, doing it yourself really will give you control of those pesky additives like aluminum stearate.
    Thus spakes the Voice of Doom. 

  • Grrr. The top half of my cleverly worded posting disappeared!  My Inner Voice of Doom was stating that the pigment particles can be easily airborne and so precautions should be thought out before starting, both in terms of safe procedures and how to clean up in case of an accident. Heavy metals. Children. Pets.  
  • If you watch the video you will note that he does not grind and suggests that it is unnecessary as modern pigments are ground much finer than pigments used in classical oil paintings.  He did mull the paint at one point, and it made a significant difference after very little application, but he did not personally prefer that kind of output.  He seemed to prefer less homogeneity. It is the legitimacy of his approach that is of interest here, of course other people do it differently, and their methods may be better.  But what was interesting here is how little effort and equipment was required to supply paint to a professional painter.
  • Eric Rhoads (whose kid once did toss some pigments all over his studio), has this thing he says where people come up to him when he is painting and say "I could never do that, I have no natural talent".  He answers that anyone can do it.  Same thing with working with dangerous materials, you can do it if you apply reasonable precautions. And also apply reasonable standards, painting with lead white is not the same thing as working in a battery plant for 50 years, or even living in a New England white house, where the windows grind out lead particles, every time they are raised or lowered.

    The flip side is that a lot of crafting amateurs these days are basically full time, and often work in small shops that are entirely incapable of a healthy standard of air quality. So one has to find a balance.  Is careful mixing one's own paints and mediums more dangerous than not reading the Gamsol MSDS?  Hard to say.  It should also be noted that there are plenty of pigments that are not toxic in the first place.

    A basic issue is what is the benefit of making one's own paints.  And other than as a satisfying side project, the answer for most people will be that there is no benefit.  What Walton is doing, is so far out on the colour harmony limb, that most people if they studied full time at the best art schools, would be 5 years away from making any use of it.

    I think a place where the second or third year student might have some fun would be with the Zorn palette.  I was rather shocked to learn that the paint tech at one of the top two companies had never heard of the Zorn palette.  I had contacted him to get some help on what black to use.  So you can be sure they don't have anything that is intentionally near this very popular limited palette.  If you purchased your cadmium red, you could have a lot of fun with the other 3 colours.  The red is also interesting, but by eliminating it, and the white if you prefer, there is still a lot of interest in the correct ochre, and black.

  • @TamDeal – Since modern manufacturers use the same finer particles, and still find it beneficial to grind, rest, and regrind, I come to the conclusion that this process is considered beneficial to the final product. Of course, it may not be necessary to produce usable paint, just better paint.   

    If other people wish to make their own paint, I say go for it! If they chose to not use reasonable precautions or never think about precautions!, that is unfortunate for them and perhaps their families. My stating the risks involved and suggesting precautions seems to offend or annoy you. I apologize but do not understand.   

    Is careful mixing one's own paints and mediums more dangerous than not reading the Gamsol MSDS?  Hard to say.  It should also be noted that there are plenty of pigments that are not toxic in the first place.”   

    I think this is irrelevant. By extrapolation, the same argument can be made that since risky decisions and behaviors already exist, then adding to the sum total of risky behavior by making paint at home without adequate protection will not matter.  

    Perhaps we are in violent agreement :)  Don't you hate when that happens?!?

  • TamDeal said:
    I think a place where the second or third year student might have some fun would be with the Zorn palette.

    The problem I have with the Zorn palette for a student is the cost of Cadmium Red (as the replacement for the original vermillion). I would change that for Iron Oxide Red mixed with student grade Pyrrol Red, and the black for a blue-black (PB29+PBk7) combination. :)
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