This is Ruud.
-Hello! What are you going to teach us today? I’m going to teach you today how to make your own paint. And I’m going to do it exactly in the same way as Rembrandt did. Welcome to RijksCreative a Rijksmuseum initiative. In this course we will teach you the ways of Rembrandt.. using modern materials and techniques. Let’s check in with our expert, Jane Turner. Hi Jane!
-Hello! How do you recognize Rembrandt’s colors? – Each period tense to reflects the taste of the time. At the end of the sixteenth century, colors where brighter. But at the early seventeenth century, when Rembrandt was active.. There was a somber taste.. and this is reflected in the earthier tones that Rembrandt used. He quite often let’s the ground of the painting showed through. Which gives it a warm burned sienna glow. But also it’s far more challenging to convey what you need to do.. in a more restricted pallet. So if you look at the robe of Jeremiah, you actually
might be able to count 50 shades of grey. Exciting.
Back to Ruud! Okay, let’s start! Paint is made of pigment, and all the pigments.. that Rembrandt used, all came from nature. For instance, black.
How did you made black in those days? Black is made by burning bones! When you burn a bone, you get bone black. And for using blue, Rembrandt used this.. this is something very special. Look at this, this is glass. This glass you find in caves somewhere in Germany. With this I can’t make any paint yet,
put it in here and then stamp on it.. so it becomes powder.
And that powder is called ‘smalt’. It was quite expensive but not as expensive.. as something blue as this.. This is called ‘ultramarine’. Ultramarine was made of these precious stones. Those precious stones where only found in one mountain in Afghanistan. For one kilo of this perfectly ultramarine you would pay 25.000 euro So what Rembrandt did, he thought:
‘okay, it’s a nice blue, but a bit too expensive’. So he used this smalt, which was also expensive. It costs about 5.000 euro a kilo nowadays, so still very expensive. But less expensive as the ultramarine. The only thing is, when you use smalt as blue.. it disappears and becomes grey after a hundred years. When we look at paintings of Rembrandt nowadays,
We hardly see any blue. Then other very nice color is this red. This red is made of lice. These lice you only find in Mexico, they live on a cactus. When I crush a few of those.. Used in lipstick, in M&M’s, in Frisi.. in pancakes and whatever. Oops, there goes the lices. And when you put a little water on top of it.. Look at this. What a beautiful red.
You may think of it as blood, it isn’t blood. it’s called carmine. There are a lot of pigments, and they come from stones.. Like this one. It’s an ocre stone. Stones you crush them again.. and you get this beautiful color of ocre. Which you see over here.
But with those stones and pigments.. You still haven’t got any paint.
Now I’m going to show you.. Two ways of making paint We start with making egg tempera with the egg. What I’m going to do at first, I’ll take.. Some pigment, because I want to make an under painting.. The first layer in a painting,
it has to dry up very quickly. I use almost the same color as Rembrandt always did. This is made of clay. Clay you find everywhere. So it’s organic.
Just to show you how you do that. I take some of this red earth. We take some water. The water I’ll put in the little hole. Now I’m going to mix it.
Very carefully. Because when you do it too wild.. Every becomes red and brown. Except where you want it. Okay, a bit more. I mix it just until I get the right texture.. and the right texture is almost the same as toothpaste. And you might think you can paint with this already. But the moment it dries up, is becomes powder again and falls off. So you need something to glue it. You don’t need the whole egg. We only need the yellow of the egg Then I throw the whole yellow of the egg on my bare hand. This is the funny part What I’m going to do now. You see the egg is still wet and shiny. Now I put it on my other hand. Clean up this hand again and goes back to this hand. Now I make my hand dry. Because every time you have to make sure that one hand is dry. Again.. Again And you see it becomes less shiny already. It become more firm.
Because what I need is only the yellow. Which is on the inside of this egg. I take the egg now with three fingers. Because i only need the yellow inside. I’ll take this little knife. Pinch it and ‘bloop’! There it is.
I’ll take a little bit of water. Little bit, not too much. Now I’m going to stir it. And what I do, I put just as much.. egg with this pigment in water. As I have on the glass plate. So this is the same portion, one on one. Then I’m going to stir it again. Incredibly enough at this moment.. I made the best paint in the world. This is so strong.
It won’t vanish its very strong. I always thought it was going.. to stink, but it isn’t. Okay, egg tempera! Look at this, you can use just water. And this is for you if you want to make a painting. You start with an under layer. Start with tempera is very clever. Because it dries up very quickly. You can do this with all kind of pigments,
so make your own tempera. Try out different colors. Different pigments you can do whatever you like. Now we’re going to make oil paint And thats a little bit more difficult.. We start with the same thing again. But now, just for fun, I’m going to take this, it’s vermilion. It’s made of mercury and an acid. And now what I use, I’m not using egg anymore. I’m going to use linseed. And linseed oil is organic. You can use it even in a salad I think. But now we are going to use it to make paint. We do it very carefully because I don’t
want it too much in the beginning. So the best thing is to make a little hole in it again. Mixing it is not enough,
Because the little particles of the pigment.. will dilute a little bit in the oil. We have to grind it.
For grinding I use a thing like this. I also have bigger ones for bigger heaps of oil paint.. but this is a little bit just to show you.
So I’m going to keep this clean. I’m going to grind it. And you have to imagine that in the studio of Rembrandt.. and actually in the studio of every painter in those times. A lot of kids were doing this.
Because if you wanted to become a painter.. the first ten years or so you had to do nothing else.. then grind and make paint and that sort of things. So, look at this. Fantastic vermilion. To test if it’s good, when I do this.. it keeps standing.
You see it doesn’t fall over again. I’m going to show you how you can paint with it.. because I can paint with this but it’s thick. You see when I use this it’s kind of stiff. That’s okay, because it’s oil paint so I can make it very thick. Just to show you what I always use, which is very handy. I’m going to give you my own recipe!
1/3 linseed oil.. 2/3 turpentine, just mix it a bit. Now I’m going to use this and you see.. I can paint. It’s totally different than the tempera. That’s what Rembrandt did: he made his under painting in oil. He doesn’t use this red.. but the brown earth colors.. because those are the cheapest.
Oil paint! When you compare those: this is already dry, that was quick. These are two of the colors which Rembrandt used. Okay Ruud, what’s next? It was a little bit messy, so I cleaned up. Now I’m going to make the palette. All the colors that Rembrandt used. I give you one tip, because by putting up.. the colors on your pallet, you have
to do it in a certain order. If you use too much warm colors.. next to cold colors, you get mud. I start with white.
Over here. Normally Rembrandt used lead white. But lead white is very poisonous, so it’s forbidden. Black. Bone black, made of burned bones. And put it over here.
I keep them separate, so they don’t mix. Sienna, natural sienna. It’s made of stone. Clay and stone, grinded stone. Very nice color, which I’m going to put over here. Next to sienna, I’ll put ocre. You see, it’s almost similar but a little bit lighter. Umber, you see it’s a sort of greenish brown. Cassel earth and it comes from Kassel. It’s very dark, it’s dark brown. Madder, deep madder. This is very beautiful, this is.. very deep red, carmine red. And this is made of the little lice. Even more red. It’s also very transparent.
This is vermilion. It’s a sort of orange red. Nickel titanium yellow. Plop! Ultramarine. Look at this, it’s very dark blue. And last, but not least: Rembrandt uses.. azurite.
It’s very hard to get.. but nowadays we have this grey-ish blue.. and it’s almost the same. Okay, what we see in this pallet of Rembrandt. This is the pallet of Rembrandt.
There’s no green! How come? That’s because Rembrandt made the green himself.. by using yellow.. combined with a little bit of blue.. and you get green. And of course you can make it even more green.. by using this and that. But when I for instance.. use a little bit of red around it. You will see that this become more green.. Because of the the color that’s next to it. I’ll show you, this is.. the grey-ish blue: Azorite This is what Rembrandt used that’s one. This is ultramarine. Blue! This is what he used.
Yellow! You when painting with oil paint you can make it thick.. and it will become slightly different. You can make it thin. Here we are, the king of all colors…
Vermilion. Wow. Carmine, made of lice. Look at this, very nice. Madder.. made of root. Earth from Kassel.. it’s also nice and glazing. You see it’s almost black. When you look at the paintings of Rembrandt. It’s so wonderful that he with just these few colors.. He could make all kinds of colors in between. That’s the thing you should experiment with. Umber. Umberrrrrr, also made of clay. Ocre. Ocre is always kind of funny. It’s more a thick paint. More opaque. When I mix this with a sort of red of carmine.. Or if I mix this with blue it become green-ish. All kinds of variance. Sienna, also an earthly color. Sienna, looks like ocre but it isn’t. You see, it’s also opaque.. and of course you can make it thin again. Last but not least: Black! I’m going to paint.. half of it black, bone black!
You see, wow! You can make sort of grey when you made it thin, until black. Then I start the other half with white. What we do now is.. You don’t see anything, anything, anything, anything.. And now it becomes grey. You see? Grey. Rembrandt was famous in the later years of painting very thick. And when you think of the Jewish bride, for instance. The sleeve of Isaac is very thick. He did that with a pallet knife. Just to show you, to become a little bit more Rembrandt-esk. You should try out painting also with a pallet knife, not only with a brush. I need paint, I need a lot of paint of course. When you paint thick, don’t be cheap. Get the paint..
And I start This paint will dry up in such a shape. So you can use that.
It’s called ‘impasto’. You can do it thick, thin and you can mix things also. So for instance here, you see.
Zap! And try out things.
Use this, make some green, hop! You see, this is vermilion. And your eye gets attracted to this red. What Rembrandt did, he didn’t only paint with this and this. But he also painted with the back of his brush. And by drawing..
In it. What shall we do?
Okay. Paint with thick paint and paint with.. thin paint at the same time. Ruud, thank you very much for the lesson.
You’ve been a delight. Thank you! And I’ll hope you’ve have fun painting.. In the way and with the colors Rembrandt used.