Friday, August 10, 2012

Turn your Eye Shadow into Watercolors

watercolor eye shadow gum arabic iridescent paint water color

Every time I walk past the makeup aisle at the dollar store, I ooh and ahh over the shiny eye shadow. It's all about the color and the shine. Wouldn't those colors that look dreadful as makeup look fabulous smeared all over paper? Yes, I thought so too.

I mentioned yesterday that paint is essentially pigment and binder. The pigment is the color, and the binder makes it stick. We all know how fleeting eye shadow is when painted on our eyelids. Mine is usually gone by lunch. Eye shadow has no sticking power on its own.

Adding a water soluble binder, such as gum arabic, to crushed eye shadow yields an iridescent paint. Remember, pigment + binder = paint.

I added 15 drops of gum arabic to each color of eye shadow after I scraped it out of the pan. Basically, you want to add enough gum arabic to make a paste of the eye shadow. You then transfer the paste back to the eye shadow pan to harden. You can find gum arabic in powdered or liquid form in the fine art aisle of your local craft store.

The gum arabic is water soluble, so a paint brush dipped in water is all you need to carry the shiny pigment to the paper (just like traditional watercolor). In fact, the eye shadow has become iridescent watercolor paint. The gum arabic prevents the pigment from smearing when the paint dries.

Again, this is not archival paint. I wouldn't add it to a great masterpiece. It's just fun, and there is nothing wrong with that. The pigment is dense enough to be used alone or swirled with commercial watercolors to add a bit of shine. 

You're headed for the makeup aisle, aren't you. 


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  1. I had this idea and googled to see if there was anything about it and POOF you already did it!So thank you. I will be doing this soon :)


  2. Thanks! I don't use make-up at all, I mean at all. & I've just been given a box of colours, which are so amazing - as colours, & I SO needed to know this. I can't give it as a gift to someone who does do make-up either, for I have a feeling that this is cheap material. Now I'm heading for some Gum Arabic ...

  3. Brilliant! Just so happens I'm going shopping today ......

  4. At last something useful for my old and expired eyeshadow palette. :)

  5. I used mineral eyeshadow a drop of glycerine and 2 drops of water to try and see if it worked. It does! The shine is brilliant!

  6. I forgot to add that I only used a very small a punt to the eyeshadow to start. Then I added I drop glycerine and two drops water. Excellent shine! I’ll see if it rubs off or not, if not, I just found another way to make it. The gum Arabic is used in most waterpaints, however I didn’t have any. It’s now on my list. The colour held exceptionally.


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