Color Expert Weighs In On The Process Of Crafting High Quality Oil Paint

Oil Paint swirls
vhpicstock / Shutterstock

According to Daily History, oil paints became popular among the artist crowd after early fifteenth century artists outside of the Italian peninsula became tired of the limitations to coloristic effects that come with the use of then widely popular egg tempera paints. The Spruce Crafts listed oil paints as some of the best paints in 2018, shelling out a laundry list of the best choices for both beginners and experts.

Those who use oil paints for their wonderfully pigmented colors and capabilities may love the paints for their uses, but are likely unaware of the process behind the creation of some artists’ favorite paints. Artsy recently published an article, detailing the behind-the-scenes making of some of the most high quality oil paints.

Speaking with esteemed color expert David Coles, Artsy got the goods on his process, including the hard and painstaking work that goes into creating some of the industry’s most pigmented oil paints. Cole is both the founder and the headmaster paint maker at Melbourne’s Langridge Artist Colours. The Langridge Artist Colors website states the brand is a “proud industry partner and exclusive Australian distributor of Golden Artists Colors, Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors, QoR, Modern Watercolor, and Nitram Fusain charcoals” as well.

David Cole spoke about the binding of pigments, and some of the combination ingredients needed to do so. According to Cole, he enjoys making oil paint “by dispersing pigments in a ‘drying oil’ such as linseed, walnut, poppy, or safflower oils.”

Lady in oil paint
  Subbotina Anna / Shutterstock

“Mixing pigments with different binders successfully converts them into a material for uses as diverse as house paints, plastics, writing inks, automotive coatings, paper and — of most interest to me — artists’ paint.”

The oils that the brand chooses, according to Cole, are only the most “exceptional bright” and clear oils. The oils chosen are stated to be made in Holland and Germany. This master paint craftsman stated that the first step to creating an oil paint with properly bound pigment is choosing a source of high quality oil. After that step comes the selection of pigment. To choose the right pigment, Cole says that the brand goes through a very lengthy period of proper investigation, researching the chemical construction of each pigment.

“There are so many manufacturers of pigments that the choice seems overwhelming. We hunt out pigments that have qualities equal to their noble intended use: They must be as lightfast as possible, chemically stable, and exhibit color qualities of benefit to the artist. The vast majority of pigments do not meet our needs; they are built for larger, more commercially important industries and have been tailored for industrial applications.”