Make Your Own Professional & Natural Watercolors February 22 2016

Making your own watercolors allows you to make an incredibly archival, very high quality paint that has a more brilliant luminosity (see comparison to commercial tubed paint below) and are free of fillers, preservatives, heavy metals, petroleum-based pigments and toxins. And it couldn't be simpler!!


Natural Earth Pigments

Gum Arabic Powder

Honey (if you want a vegan version, use glycerin)

clove or thyme essential oil


Step 1: Make the Watercolor Base:

  • Mix 1 cup hot water with ½ cup Gum Arabic Powder

  • Add in 1/5 cup honey (a little less than ¼ cup)

  • Add two drops of clove or thyme essential oil to help preserve it

(If you want a stronger preservative you can use sodium benzoate – a food grade preservative - 1/2 - 1 tsp.)

  • In separate bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. honey with 9 Tbsp. of above mixture (1:9)

Step 2:  Mix in Pigment:


  • Mix 1 part mixture with 1 part pigment (adjust as necessary)
  • For example, 9 tsp. mixture and 9 tsp. pigment
  • Note: Each pigment has completely different properties and behaves differently so determine what each pigment needs. For example, I found that blue needed a little more pigment than 1:1. And yellow ocher needed quite a bit more pigment.


Step 3:  Store in airtight jars or let dry into cakes.


Comparison of these home-made watercolors with professional quality, tubed, commercial watercolors in the art supply store.

Notice the vibrancy in the hand-made colors!

quick apple study...



Ashland, Oregon