How to Make Paint

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Many homemade paints are safe for use by children.
Many homemade paints are safe for use by children. (Image: View Stock/View Stock/Getty Images)

All paint starts with some kind of base. The base is then mixed with a pigment material so the paint has color. Homemade paint has been used for centuries by all calibers of painters. Early medieval painter Giotto used egg tempera paint to create beautiful religious artworks, while Leonardo Da Vinci used homemade paint to create marvelous works such as the “Mona Lisa.” The knowledge of homemade paint making is a skill that artists of every age should have in their virtual tool kit.

Egg Tempera Paint

Tempera paint is easy to make, but does not last long in storage. The paint is made from a mixture of egg yolk, water and pastel chalk. Make the base for the paint from an egg yolk and water mixture. The egg yolk membrane is pierced and only the inner yellow of the yolk is used. The yolk is then whisked with a tablespoon of water. The pastel chalk pigment is added to the mixture to create a thin runny paint. Egg tempera base can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Use egg tempera paint on wood, canvas, plaster or paper art projects.

Watercolor Paint

Watercolor paint starts with a white base. Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. The baking soda and vinegar mixture will fizz, so use a large enough container to keep the mixture from over flowing. Add 1/2 teaspoon of light corn syrup and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the baking soda and water. Mix the ingredients thoroughly. Place the watercolor base in a muffin tin. Add drops of food color to the base to create color. One to two drops of food color will make a light color, add more food color to make darker hues and stir. Allow the paint to dry for a couple of days before using it as you would standard watercolor paints. These paints work best on paper designated as watercolor paper.

Finger Paint

Finger paint base is made from 2 cups of white flour and 2 cups of cold water. The ingredients are mixed together to create a glue-like substance. Add drops of food coloring or crushed pastel chalk for pigment. Finger paint should be stored in airtight containers inside the refrigerator until ready to use. If the paint starts to go bad, throw it away and make a new batch. Finger paint is safe for use on all types of paper or art canvas.

Cornstarch Paint

Cornstarch paint can be used like egg tempera paint or with the impasto technique -- laid on thick. Place 2 cups of water in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup cornstarch and add it to the boiling water. Stir the paint base until it is thickened. Place the cornstarch base in a container. Add drops of food coloring to the base to create different colors. Store the paint in the refrigerator in airtight containers until ready to use. Cornstarch paint works well on paper, canvas and wood art projects.

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