Paint is simply pigment in a binder. The pigment provides the color, and the binder keeps the pigment in place. And, it's rather easy to do yourself.
I followed the recipe for watercolors in Home Made, although the recipe is the same in other books, so I feel okay sharing it here.
1 tbsp White Vinegar
2 tbsp Baking Soda
1 tbsp Cornstarch
¼ tsp Glycerin (or Corn Syrup)
Mix the vinegar and baking soda. When the mixture stops fizzing, stir in the cornstarch and glycerin or corn syrup. Carefully add more vinegar if your mixture is crumbly. Scoop the mixture into lids from plastic bottles or an ice cube tray. The binder mixture will be white. Stir in several drops of liquid food coloring or food coloring paste into each container until you're happy with the intensity of each color. Let the paint harden overnight.
To use the watercolor paint, just add a few drops of water to each color to moisten the paint.
I used a paste food coloring set, so all my colors coordinate. I didn't measure the food coloring as I mixed it into the binder. I kept adding food coloring until the mixture seemed dark enough.
Food coloring is meant to mix with food, so you can't expect the same results as you'd get even with a student box of drug store watercolors. Instead, the paint gives you unpredictable color variety with a slight texture after the paint dries.
Purple and black food colors are notoriously unstable. They want to separate out into their component colors. The Delphinium Blue is a purplish blue. If I make a blue wash and then drip clean water into the wet wash, the true blue wants to separate out, leaving the mauve, which can provide a pretty effect. Black also moves into blue and red, which can add variety to a flat color.
Are these paints archival? No way. Food coloring was meant to be eaten not to endure (thank goodness). A food coloring painting most likely would fade away if displayed in bright light. However, these homemade paints are useful to put together a quick card or when you want to give the kids a science lesson followed by an art lesson. Or, you can make them for fun, which is the best reason of all.
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