Homemade Paint

My favorite homemade paint is egg tempera. I learned how to make it and use it in a college watercolor class I took.

homemade paint

Egg tempera paint is actually a very old technique that was used for a lot of medieval paintings. You can also make oil paint from linseed oil or milk paint using dried milk protein known as casein.

How to Make Paint

Paint requires three ingredients:

Pigment
You can make your own pigment colors from natural materials such as rust, mud, and herbs, or buy synthetic pigments for brighter colors.
Binder
The binder holds the pigment and acts as a glue to bind it to the painted surface. More binder makes a paint with more gloss.
Solvent
Sometimes another liquid is required to make the paint a more spreadable consistency if the binder is too thick.

For egg tempera paint, you use watercolor tube paint concentrate for the pigment, egg yolk for the binder, and maybe a very tiny bit of water if you need it more solvent.

For a basic casein paint or milk paint, sour some skim milk with lemon juice overnight. Strain out the curds, known as quark, and add a pigment. The smell will disappear once it dries.

You can also buy milk paint powder where you simply add water to use.

If you make your own paint, you can use safer materials that do not release toxic fumes or pollute the environment. Natural paints are usually not as durable as synthetics, but they are more beautiful and can work great for small projects.

Using Homemade Paint

In the class where I studied watercolors, we used the egg tempera  technique to decorate small pieces of wooden board covered with white gesso.

Of course I decided to paint a butterfly design on mine. My inspiration was the mourning cloak butterfly, a type that hibernates over the winter and is the first to appear in very early spring.

egg tempera butterfly paintingWatercolor pigment and egg tempera with added imitation gold leaf foil

 We also added (imitation) gold leaf so it really looked similar to the medieval artwork style. It was my first time using it, so that was another interesting process to learn.

This photo was taken after it had been in storage for several years and you can see the paint held up very well. The pigment colors are still very fresh and vibrant.

Now how will you use the paint? You might want to try making some homemade paper to go with it.




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