Making Watercolors & Gouache Paints

Making Glair (Egg-white Binder)

for making watercolor paint.
This binder makes transparent watercolors or gold-leaf adhesive. It’s a protein, so is water-soluble only while wet; fairly permanent when dry.

You need:

  • 1 egg white
  • Small deep bowl
  • Pipette*
  • Whisk
  • Lidded container
  • Clove oil*
  • Soapy water for dirty brushes
  • Paper towels for cleanup
  • Small trash bag
  • Art brushes
  • Gum Arabic*
  • Practice paper
  • Paper, parchment, etc. to paint on

 Method:

  • Separate white from yolk, remove opaque ‘eye’ thread.
  • Whisk white to stiff peaks like making a meringue
  • Cover bowl loosely to keep dust-free and set overnight.
  • Next day, scrape off foam and feed to the dog or toss it
  • Pour liquid into container, add drop of clove oil if desired.
  • Add about 1:1 glair and gum Arabic
  • Mix with pigments as with making egg tempera.
  • Glair will keep 1 week in refrigerator if well sealed.
  • Once old glair gets moldy, it’s not good for art, so toss it out.

 

Gouache (Opaque Watercolor)

This recipe creates watercolor paint with white filler‡

  • Mix 1 part whiting‡ to 6 parts pigment.
  • Adjust for depth of opacity as desired.
  • Some artists like a semi-opaque paint. Go for it!

‡ chalk*, kaolin* or titanium dioxide*

* Item sold by Ancient Earth Pigments

 

Image: Red capital “N” with green and russet watercolor edging, from unknown Medieval
manuscript. Note that the capital letter is “inhabited” by a monk-like scribe or artist.

 

2 thoughts on “Making Watercolors & Gouache Paints

  1. Thank you for this kind note. As soon as the weather cools down, we plan some dye and pigment workshops in our backyard. The huge avocado tree that covers the yard will shade us nicely. Watch our “workshops” page.

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