Ask Annie B., For The Home, Uncategorized

Petroleum-free Artists’ Oil Paint (DIY)

natural pigments

AskAnnieBDear Annie, I’m an artist and exposed to chemicals in my art supplies everyday. Are there any nontoxic paints out there that I could use instead? – Sameer F., GA

Dear Sameer,
Commercial oil paints contain unhealthy petroleum solvents. Here is a recipe for making your own paint that is a true find, especially for those who are chemically sensitive, adapted from a recipe in the Kremer Pigments artists’ catalog.


Generally, count on using up to three times as much pigment as oil by volume.
1/2 ounce beeswax
2 1/2 ounces raw, cold-pressed linseed oil
Natural earth pigments

Heat the beeswax and oil over medium heat in a double boiler. Once the beeswax has melted, remove from the stove. Wearing a dust mask, carefully place the powdered pigment on a glass plate, and with a palette knife, slowly mix in the beeswax and oil mixture until you have a firm paste. (This can take a while to do properly, up to 30 minutes!) Make sure not to add too much oil, as if they paste is too think the paint will crack.

Natural pigments as well as others, are available from Kremer Pigments and other artist supply stores. Natural pigments are especially lovely as they are more mellow.

By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).