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Art Terms in Action: Paint

To experiment on your own, take our online studio course Materials and Techniques of Postwar Abstract Painting Created by The Museum of Modern Art.

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Video transcript

When you buy a tube of paint, what's in that tube primarily is pigment and binder. Pigment is the color matter. It's the stuff that provides paint with color. Now, these can be finely ground up minerals. They can be natural products as well. The binder is essentially the glue, the adhesive of the paint, the stuff that sticks all those little flecks of color together. The binder of oil paint is linseed oil, literally the oil from flax seeds. So essentially we have the pigment, the color matter going into the binder which holds it all together and then this is mostly what paint is. Using a glass muller, I'm ensuring that the pigment evenly is dispersed into that oil, as I'm really making sure this paint has a uniform consistency. If you buy a tube of paint today, this stuff is done by huge industrial processes rather than the old-fashioned handmade way that I'm demonstrating here. Now the more oil that is added to the paint, the more translucent that paint becomes. Because this oil is barely colored, it has a slight yellow cast to it, the more of that we add, the further we push apart those little flecks of color, those little bits of pigment. If they're spread apart into what's called the glaze with a lot of linseed oil, then we can see through that paint. I'm making it translucent.