The following video presentation is from Leah Mebane. Leah is the creator of an all natural line of pigments called “Earth Paint”. If you have been searching for an affordable, high quality, non-toxic pigment to make your own oil paint that is free of fillers and preservatives,t hen you should definitely give these pigments a try.
Watch the video below to learn more about her pigments and how to mix up your own oil paint.
Earth Paints for the Professional Painter
Hi my name is Leah Mebane and I am the founder of Earth Paints and also a professional Oil Painter. Today I wanted to talk about how to create really high quality, professional and beautiful oil paintings without using any toxins at all, no solvents and only all natural materials. The process is actually very ancient and has been used for many many centuries, at least a 100,000 years. Not until very recently have we started adding preservatives and petroleum based pigments and heavy metal toxins and fillers to the paints that we buy at the store and we have also started adding solvents like Turpentine and Mineral Spirits.
The most earth friendly, non-toxic and high quality paint that you can make is simply natural earth pigment and walnut oil. This is an example of some ground up pigment that has been simply collected from the ground, pulverized, sifted and sieved into a really fine powder and this is exactly what all of the old masters used to make their own paint, just pigment and oil. No need for preservatives or anything toxic.
Not only are Earth Pigments the most archival of all pigments, but they are also not affected by sunlight, temperature or humidity. The interesting thing about Earth Pigments is the particles are larger and more irregular in size than synthetically made pigments, so light can pass through them in a much more interesting way and bounce off the different edges of the irregular particles. Light just illuminates from your painting. It’s a much more unique and luminous glow that you get with natural pigments.
For centuries, artists have suffered from the toxic fumes of solvents used in the oil painting process and I was no different. When I became pregnant with my first child, I knew I had to detoxify my studio immediately. So, after a lot of trial and error and research, I rediscovered these natural techniques that were used by our ancestors. A few years after discovering these techniques, I decided to spread the word to artists everywhere and I created a professional grade natural Earth Oil Painting Kit with a detailed booklet with instructions on all these nontoxic techniques. I wanted to make this an affordable paint kit for artists so I’ve included the equivalent of six tubes of Artist Oil Paint for $39.95, so it’s a really good deal. I have six colors. We have Red Earth, Orange Ochre, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Green Earth and Ultramarine Blue, an instructional booklet with all these techniques I am describing and a bottle of refined Walnut Oil. The reason I use Walnut Oil instead of Linseed Oil is because Linseed Oil tends to yellow your painting over time and Walnut Oil is a little bit more high quality.
So, to mix the paint, you just scoop out some Earth Pigment. Here is a little bit of Red Earth. You can use a spoon or a palette knife. Then, I usually make a little indentation in the middle and pour in a little bit of Walnut Oil and then you just mix it up. You want to keep mixing it until it makes a smooth paste like what would come out of a paint tube. You might need to add more oil or more pigment as you go along to get the right consistency.
If you want your paints to dry a little faster, one thing you can always add is Walnut Alkyd Medium. You can either mix this in with your regular medium or you can pour it directly into the paint. I usually mix it in with the medium but I will just pour it here. This is also a natural product from M. Graham. They are a great company. I am just going to mix it up to make it more of a paste. Another option is to use a glass muller which can work a little better to coat every single particle of pigment with oil. I usually just use the palette knife but the glass muller just makes extra sure that every single particle is completely coated. To use the glass muller, you just rub over on top of it, scrape it off and then rub a little bit more.
So the oil paint is just about finished and I am going to add it to the painting now. People commonly use turpentine or linseed oil mixed with turpentine and/or other toxic things, maybe Damar Varnish, to make your medium to thin your paint. But what Rembrandt and all those guys used was actually just plain Walnut Oil, nothing else. So that’s what I am using. I am just going to dip my brush in the Walnut Oil , just to thin it a little bit and then I will try brushing it on the canvas.
So it’s a really nice flowing thick paint and you can paint it on any surface that oil paints are used on: wood, canvas, any primed surface. You can mix these Earth Paints with any tube paints that you already have. So you wouldn’t have to throw out any paints. You can combine these just like any other oil paint.
Another typical use of turpentine or solvents is to swish out your brush in there to clean out the brush to change colors to switch to another color. So the way I do this without turpentine is I use a lot of rags and wipe off as much excess paint as possible first and then I have a separate jar of Walnut Oil, not the jar that I used as my medium but a separate one, just for this purpose of cleaning the brush between colors. Walnut Oil is what all of humanity has used to clean oil paint off for centuries. We didn’t need any turpentine at all. So you can just swish it around and then wipe if off again. Now you can switch to another color.
Another common use of turpentine is to clean your brushes at the end of your painting session and since Walnut Oil is a little bit more expensive, I’ve found another product, Murphy’s Oil Soap, that you can get at your local hardware store. It’s a natural product and it’s a lot more affordable. What I do is, I pour a little bit of the Murphy’s Oil Soap in a glass jar, I swish my brush around there to get the paint off and then I rinse it in water. Then I wash my brush in a little bit of soap and water. It works really great. It’s a wonderful product and you don’t need any turpentine at all. If you have any oil paint on your hands or your skin, I just use Master’s Hand Soap, which you can get at any Art Supply Store and it gets any oil paint off your skin.
So, I hope you have a lot of fun painting the completely Eco-Friendly way. One thing I wanted to point out is that with the Earth Pigments that are in the Earth Pigments Kit, you can make many other different types of paint. You can make Earth Watercolors, wood stains, Egg Tempera Earth Paint. So all of these recipes just depend on adding a different binder to these pigments. All of the recipes are on my Website which is NatrualEarthPaint.com and there are lots more resources and articles and many more things on there. Thanks!