Making Paint

Make your own paint

The Lindisfarne Gospels were painted using materials which were gathered locally. Plants and minerals were processed by the monks to make coloured powders or 'pigments' which were mixed with egg and water to make paint. Make your own paints from natural pigments and powders which you find around you.

  • Add any colored pigment (powder) to a binder to make your own natural paints. The best binder is gum arabic to make watercolours (available from art shops). Add a drop of gum to pigment and mix into a paste. Thin with water to use (see Pigments and Tools image)
  • The paint can be used straight away or left to harden into a cake and re-mixed using a brush dipped in water
  • Pigments: Soot; coal dust; black and grey ash from burnt paper; brown ash from burnt coal; charcoal; chalk dust; talcum powder; ground up seashells; baked soil; powdered rust; pulverised brick or plant pots; slate; paprika; turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and ginger (from 'Herbs and Spices' at the supermarket); powdered graphite; red and yellow ochre; house dust. Invent your own.

 

Pigments and Tools
Pigments and Tools

Pigments and Tools

 

Other tools and materials

You will also need: a pencil, a size '0' brush, a size 2 brush, scissors, a craft knife, a ruler, a pair of compasses, PVA (white glue), cartridge paper, tracing paper, card (cereal packet), cardboard (cardboard box), newspaper, sweet wrappers. For some of the projects you will need a digital camera, a scanner, a printer and photo-manipulation software for your computer. Access to a photocopier may also be useful.

Be resourceful

Pick up and collect interesting objects that you may be able to use to help you with your research (rusty metal, leaves, seed heads, pebbles, shells, drift wood, feathers, wire and cable, old circuit boards); collect pictures from magazines and newspapers which you think may be relevant to your research and add them to your Research Book; make a note of good websites and download images for your Research Book.

 

Using paint

 

Test out your paints - Produce a series of small paintings using squares, patterns and natural forms.

  • Draw a square on one of the pages of your Research Book
  • Use your handmade paints to fill in the square with a series of coloured stripes (see Stripes image)
  • Draw another square and divide it up into a grid of smaller squares. Paint each square with a repeat of colours to suggest a weave pattern (see Weave image)
  • Draw another grid and fill each square with a simple pattern and paint (see Magic Squares image)
  • Go on to produce variations on this simple idea. Add the shapes of natural objects or use a grid of irregular shapes (see Snails and Snails and Squares images).

Stripes
Stripes

Stripes
  
Weave
Weave
Weave
   
Magic Squares
Magic Squares
Magic Squares
   
Snails
Snails
Snails
   
Snails and Squares
Snails and Squares
Snails and Squares