Mixing colours with artist’s own made low budget PVA paint.


Yesterday we made low budget PVA paint. Today we are going to see how well the colours stand when we start mixing them together.
We will also make a colour diagram of the PVA and oil colours.  I hope that teachers and artists will follow the workshop and discover how you can also make your own paints.

Ground rules of each workshop[see previous post]

Artists gossip round

After yesterdays workshop Moffat, Gersham, Mavis, Wycliffe, Joe, Kres ,Sky and K_
went to the opening at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. Nicholas Mukomberanwa (1940 – 12 November 2002).  We discussed who we met and what we saw.

Introduction to making mixing colours

Paint is made out of pigment and a binder (medium) . We can mix magenta, cyan, yellow and black to make practically any colour (offset CMYK printing). If you want to have a more varied and consistent pallet you will use a wider range of pigments.

Make a mind map: 5 min
name the pigments that you know.

output cadmium orange, cadmium red, carmine, cobalt violet, ultra marine blue, phthalo turquoise…

results: In the shops of Harare there is a limited overlapping colour range available (oils and acrylics). We do not need all of them, rather choose your colours with care.

Mixing our own paints: 60 min
Yesterday we made our own paints. Today we are going to test them and see if we can produce the colour wheel. Mix glue, pigment and water.

output: we mixed the 3 pigments with glue and water and made our colour wheels

discussing our results: 20 min

  • The PVA paint did very well with the warm colours. The purple was very difficult to control. Even adding a little white did not help. We had red,

conclusions: if we want to make full use of the home made paint, it would be good to buy a magenta pigment or invest in a purple acrylic.

Part 2
Mixing oils
:60 min

To get a feel for the colours we are going to make colour tones. By adding white or black we want to experiment to see when a colour ‘breaks apart’. For instance adding a little black to yellow will quickly turn the yellow into a sickly green.

testing out the oil colours

testing out the colours


http://kasselpainting.com, note adding white to purple will break the colour, but purple can take black. On the other hand yellow can not take black very well, but does better with white.

output: we made our colour fields, carefully noting the colours that appeal to us and which ones do not work

results:  with the colour chart that we have made today, it is easy to recall the colours that we can make ourselves. In this way you can divert away from the limited preprocessed colours. When It will also make it easier to distinguish the warmer colours and cooler colours. This is important when we want to get depth into the painting. Warm colours for the foreground, cool colours for the back.
note: In Harare you can buy W&N oil paints. The cheaper Chinese brand in 170ml are just fine.

next: painting Gaidaro the otherself style with our own made paints

workshop making your own paints


In this workshop we are going to be making and testing artists’ low budget PVA paint. The write-up about this project includes the results of the artists from the First Floor gallery of Harare. I hope that teachers and artists will follow the workshop and discover how you can also make your own paints.

Moffat, Gersham, Mavis, Wycliffe, Joe, Kres and Sky

Participants 6-30

Ground rules of each workshop

  1. respect 4 all, all 4 one  (confidentiality: personal issues discussed in the group remain in the group)
  2. For each exercise there is a set time, stick to it (you will be told how much time you have and how much time is left to round off your task)
  3. There is a general silence agreement, when the instructor asks for general silence, be silent.
  4. The participants will be split up into groups of 3-4. Participants may get a role in their group to assist with materials or tasks.

Artists gossip round

Each person tells what they know about  one other participant.
In this way we know how others see us.
(If participants do not know one another, do a speed-date session)
results: we learned what the others make, what there themes are, where they get support from and inspiration.

Introduction to making paint

Paint is made out of pigment (powder) and a glue (medium) that holds it together.

Make a mind map: 5 min
name pigments and different types of mediums

output oxide, red clay, ultra marine, cadmium yellow, iron oxide….
linseed oil, wood glue, Arabic gum…
note: Dye molecules are much smaller than pigment particles and are much more vulnerable to light.

results:the pigment is the colour, the medium holds the pigment together. Some glues dissolve in water like Arabic gum for water colours.

with thanks to naturalpigments.com

Mixing glue and powder: 45 min

We found several powder paints for sale in Harare centre, 200gr 3$US , wood glue 1kg for 5 $US. We bought white, red, cyan, yellow and oxide black (the cheapest).

Mix the powder with the glue and add a little water. Find out what results this gives.

output: we mixed all the powders and tested them. We also mixed the pigments with linseed oil. Pigment with oil paint, pigment with acrylic emulsion.

results: 20 min

  • PVA being a cheaper type of binder than acrylic medium dries up slightly white, leaving dark blue with a slightly milky layer.
  • The white was difficult to mix with the glue, it became lumpy. We have to find a better way to mix.
  • Mixing powders with oil was difficult. Too little oil, resulted in a lumpy mess, too much oil resulted in a lean paint.
  • Raw linseed oil resulted in a darker yellow.
  • Mixing powder with oil paint gave good result. This could be used full for extending the oil paint.
  • the Acrylic emulsion was of such poor quality that we abandoned using it.

Today’s conclusions: 10 min
It is possible to make a study quality paint from pigments and PVA glue. Adding a little water makes the paint flow better. We found that our paint dries fast, so mind how much paint you make. PVA glue can also be added to tempera paint. This will enable the artist to paint layer over dry layer like acrylic paint.

We also found out that oil paints can be bought in Zimbabwe, they go for 10$ US for 170ml but buy the W&N Chinese brand (the W&N European will cost 3 times more).
[note:  W&N 200ml in Europe is 12 Euro.]

next: mixing the colours