If you were wondering what oil paint is actually made from then here is your chance, but maybe you’re not wondering that at all though. Perhaps you’re pondering something like what the acceptable percentage of rat droppings and bug parts in our food is, and why that number isn’t zero. After all zero is a good round number. And anyway, what sort of devil’s arithmetic do they use to calculate this sort of thing? I don’t remember seeing that course listed in my school’s catalog – Acceptable Bug Parts 101. Anyhow, what’s on my mind isn’t insect fragments but pigment particles.
The thing that I loved about oil paint from the very beginning was how so many of the colors actually felt different from each other. I quickly learned that it was because the hues in oil paints actually come from different substances. Sap green is actually made from unripe blackthorn berries (also known as sloe berries). Burnt sienna is made from burning raw sienna to remove the moisture and to redden the earthy color. Ivory black gets its name because it used to be made from burning bones to produce bone char. Each company tends to have their own recipe which means that the paints also vary in texture and viscosity. Many companies are also switching to synthetics so it is important to keep an eye out for that; if that is the sort of thing that you sit around and think about.
What is consistent though is that the most meticulous care is taken in creating the purest pigments. Paints are often mixed in laboratory type controlled settings to make sure the ingredients are mixed just right. Only the highest quality materials are used because any variance could ruin an entire batch.
About that other question of what is actually in our food – that depends on what it is that you’re eating. If it is peanut butter then 29 insect parts per 100 grams is just fine, but for ground thyme the number soars to 925 parts per TEN grams of insect bits – which makes me wonder if ground thyme might actually be a higher source of protein than peanut butter.
It’s interesting to think how the paint we use is actually more pure than the food we eat.