Bring Out Your Own Genius With Frida Kahlo’s DIY Paint Recipe

by Alice Lawton

Yesterday was the amazing Frida Kahlo’s birthday. She painted beautiful portraits, crafted unique clothing, and even made her own paint! Besides Kahlo’s passionate love letters, The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait also included her own personal recipe for a damar gum-based paint. 

Luckily, for only-English-speaking Kahlo fans out there, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings posted a translated version of the recipe:

  • Distemper together 4 equal parts of egg yolks raw linseed oil                                
  • egg yolk = raw linseed oil = compound of damar gum blended in turpentine = water                                                                                                                                    
  • damar gum dissolved in turpentine and distilled water. with disinfectant take = concentrated aldehyde alcohol. ½ gram. to a liter of water.                                 
  • crushed damar inside of lemon [suspended in] turpentine for 8 to 10 days.          
  • remove all the white from the yolk.                                                                                       
  • 1 Make an emulsion of the ingredients                                                                                    2 Grind the colors into the emulsion                                                                                     3 If a glossy texture is desired, increase the amount of damar, up to two parts.                                                                                                                             4 If an overall matte finish is desired increase the water up to three parts


Now, I have a hard time making head or tail of the recipe, English or not. However, Artist Bartholomew Stem tried it out and while he may not have liked it very much, his paintings did turn out very interesting. I urge all who can decipher it to make it and paint a portrait to honor the late, great Kahlo. Maybe it will be your new favorite medium. 


40 Vintage Photos Of Frida Kahlo To Get Lost In Today

11 Photos Of Frida Kahlo’s Incredible Locked-Away Wardrobe

Yasumasa Morimura’s Dialogue With Frida Kahlo: A Manifesto Of Gender-Bending

Images courtesy of The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait, Bartholomew Stem

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