Making my own paint

There are some wonderful paint brands out there (Michael Harding, Vasari, Williamsburg) but I’ve found the best way to get high pigment oil colour is by making it myself. 

Buying the pigments, oil, muller etc is not cheap, but neither is a tube of Michael Harding, which can set you back up to £65 for a 60ml tube. 

Both options are worth the money! Quality paint has a delicious texture, intensity of colour and it dries better. And it has so much pigment compared to the more widely available brands, so it goes a lot further.

Imagine, though, the intensity of colours you can make when your only ingredients are pigment, lindseed oil, a dash of turps and a dot of beeswax. The Prussian Blue I make is almost toxic… I’ve learned to just use a tiny dot at a time, otherwise it takes over!

This weekend, I made an Ultramarine Blue and an Ultramarine Violet. I was painting some trees and felt they needed something more electric (I’m forever referencing Matisse).

It’s so much fun, but also a great way of staying in touch with the traditional role of the painter. Before tubes, artist assistants would visit the pigment shops and make paint for their ‘masters’ using this very technique!

Ultramarine Violet pigment

Ultramarine Violet pigment, after some grinding with oil

The paint in tubes

Early stages of painting (before handmade paint)

Early stages of painting (after handmade paint)

Work available through Argyll gallery

Last weekend, I took the stunning drive to the other side of Scotland to meet Robbie, the owner of Tignabruaich Gallery in Argyll.

And what a drive! Passing great trees, through tiny villages full of stone cottages, up and then down mountains and right along the edge of Loch Lommand. And then I arrived in Tignabruaich, a very pretty seaside village on Argyll’s ‘Secret Coast’ with views of the Isle of Bute. 

It was great to chat to Robbie, who has wonderful ideas as a gallerist, in particular his idea of ‘Art. The Experience’. I took his approach to art as very similar to my own; he values the traditional but wants to challenge it. He is taking me on as one of Tignabruaich Gallery’s artists and I am looking forward to developing a relationship with the gallery, as well as the village itself. 

I’ve come home with photos for a new series about Tignabruaich, but for now the gallery have taken five of my paintings into their stock, which are all below. 

More info at

Dundee - Tignabruaich

Tignabruaich Viewpoint

Tentsmuir Forrest (Green)

Tentsmuir Forrest (Yellow)

Violet Light

Hospital Gown Billy

Oil Slump

‘Crow Head’ in group exhibition

It is so glorious to look at a painting and realise it is finished. To know that you managed to invent something that you like and that all that frustration is over. 

But the best feeling of all is that moment when another human being decides that they want to be part of that something you invented. 

‘Crow Head’ is currently on display at House For An Art Lover’s latest exhibition ‘Identity Through Landscape’. 

The exhibition features artists whose work is either about the landscape, or is created in response to the landscape. My painting ‘Crow Head’ is about intuition, guidance and having a relationship with nature. The crow on the figure’s head is a reference to ‘spirit guides’ in Shamanism and the triangles represent all that pulls us in life. This is simply what it means to me at this moment in time. I hope other people are able to read into it using their own language. 

‘Crow Head’ hangs in a stunning building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which sits within Bellahouston Park on the outskirts of Glasgow. 

The exhibition runs until 8th August. I hope you are able to pop by.

Using Format