I was running a little low on titanium white casein, a color that always gets used up quickly, so I did some searching to find a good price for some new PW6 pigment. Fortunately, it is one of the simplest pigments to mix up on your own.
My last purchase of white pigment was through RGH who has good prices on dry pigments, and makes nice oils also. Their titanium white was listed at $5.50 for ½ lb., which is not bad. As I continued looking I came across Camden-Grey near Miami, FL. They sell essential oils and soap making supplies, offering a few pigments for coloring soaps. Their price for 8 ounces was just $3.50. My order arrived in the mail last Friday.
I ordered a couple other things too: ½ ounce jar of thyme oil (an excellent preservative,) and a bag of “red iron oxide.” Red Oxide is typically labeled as PR-101, a close cousin to Burnt Sienna, PBr-7. In fact, some companies, label PR-101 as “Burnt Sienna,” like Winsor & Newton’s watercolor. Not being an art store, Camden-Grey doesn’t post color IDs for these pigments, but I figure it was safe to go by name alone in this case. At a price of $2.50 for 16 ounces of red oxide, I couldn’t resist.
This is the end result after a couple minutes of mixing up the white pigment with some homemade casein binder. That’s a 1 oz. plastic jar about halfway full using 4 teaspoons of pigment and about 2 teaspoons of binder. Check my website articles page on how to make the binder.
On the right is a sample swatch of the white casein on some colored paper. I drew down a stroke of it with a paint knife, mixed some with water, and some with binder. That blue mixed in with the white is homemade cerulean (PB35) that I made a few weeks ago.
The red oxide mixed just as easily as the white, nice and smooth. I don’t have a commercial brand of PR-101 paint to compare it to, so I painted some Shiva Casein Burnt Sienna underneath this sample. Curiously, the PBr-7 seems more reddish and this red oxide more neutral to me; although tints of the PBr-7 lean more towards orange. The red oxide is also more opaque.
This new paint holds very well, and doesn’t rub off at all. Score! I’ll put these swatches in the window to properly test their lightfastness, but I don’t anticipate any problems.
It’s always buyer beware when getting materials that don’t come from an art store. Something that works fine for coloring soap may be poor for paint, or have other things mixed in, so it’s good to test it out before committing it to permanent artwork. You also can’t always trust the names, i.e. “ultramarine” may actually be “phthalo” blue. If I buy pigments that can’t properly be identified, it’s important to thoroughly test them out first.
Some pigments are not this easy to work with and may need a muller to grind them down for a smooth paint. I have a glass muller but I rarely use it.
Go easy when adding thyme oil to your paint. It’s a severe skin irritant so wear gloves. Only a single drop is required for this amount of paint, which I can barely smell. I add the oil with a drinking straw, dipping it about 1/8” and then cover the other end with my finger.