Genuine Terracotta Oil Paint

Terracotta Oil Paint 5

Here’s some oil paint that I made from a shard of a broken terracotta pot. Some paint brands like to sell a paint called terracotta, but here I now have the real thing. Genuine broken pot paint. 🙂

I photographed all of this in the afternoon sun. The tints are with titanium white, but I didn’t try too hard to make it exactly even ratios this time. The other two paints in the photo are just there for comparison.

It actually does make sense to do this when you consider what natural red ochres and synthetic mars reds are made of. Basically, red ochre is primarily colored by iron oxides and, depending on the source, also contains large amounts of things like clay, quartz, gypsum, etc. Mars red is made through chemical reactions using ingredients like powdered iron and is baked at high temperatures. A mars red is very similar to a natural red earth but without the mineral impurities. To make a terracotta pot (or red bricks) that mars red is then mixed with things like clay. So, as I’m understanding it, a powdered terracotta pot really isn’t much different from a natural red ochre.

All I used was this one small shard of the pot. Before now I had actually been putting the pieces into the bottoms of other pots to improve the drainage. To grind it into powder I switched back to my old granite mortar and pestle. It actually broke down a lot easier than I expected, and I only ended up using a about a third of the powder.

To make it into paint I mulled the powder with a mix of linseed and poppyseed oils. Of all the drying oils used to make oil paint for artists, linseed oil has the highest percent of linolenic acid. It dries the fastest and makes the strongest paint film, but it also yellows the most over time. Poppyseed oil has little if any linolenic acid, but one of the highest percentages of linoleic acid. It’s one of the slowest to dry and doesn’t make as strong of a film, but has a lighter color to begin with and is supposed to not yellow nearly as much. That’s why some brands specifically use it for very light colors such as white, where even a small amount of yellowing would be noticeable. The mix of the two oils should produce a paint with a stronger film than just poppyseed and that doesn’t yellow as much as linseed with a drying time between the two. Some brands of paint do also mix oils for reasons like that. Mostly though I did the mix because I’m running low on linseed oil but I have plenty of poppyseed. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Genuine Terracotta Oil Paint

  1. Thanks so much for this post on making your own paint. I is nicely written and most informative.
    I admire Artists who either find or make their own materials. Very well done! OK next we move on to Cobalt Blue, you’re going to need a shovel and miner’s lamp! 😉

  2. Very admirable and I can certainly see the difference. I get so frustrated not always having the colors on hand I want and need – but I am amazed at what I can mix up. This is the ultimate mixing!

    1. There’s apparently a lot of rocks that can potentially be used, even if they’re not the obvious ochres. Before this I was grinding some random dark colored rock that turned out as an odd greyish brown, but I’ve been wanting to do this with the pot shard for a long time so I skipped to the terracotta instead of making proper paint with the first one.

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