Since its founding, Gamblin Artists Colors has handcrafted
luscious oil colors and contemporary mediums true to the working
properties of traditional materials, yet safer and more permanent.
Gamblin’s dedication to today’s oil painters extends beyond offering the
finest possible materials – they believe in sharing their knowledge so
painters can choose those materials that best support their own artistic
Understanding Contemporary Oil Painting Materials, a 90 minute Lecture Demonstration will cover the following:
Color Theory – 2-dimensional vs 3-dimensional Color Space
Color Mixing – Navigating Color Space: Gamblin’s practical approach to color mixing
Artist’s Oil Colors – Gamblin’s approach to color making
Mineral vs Modern Pigments – How to create a personalized palette of colors
Indirect vs Direct Techniques – Historical application of opaque and transparent colors
FastMatte Alkyd Oil Colors – Benefits and uses of fast-drying, matte oil colors
1980 Oil Colors – True Color. Real Value.
Painting Mediums – Choosing the right medium, including working properties and drying rates
Building Permanent Paintings – Understanding Fat Over Lean
Supports, Sizing and Grounds – How they affect color and permanence
Studio Safety – Create without compromise in a safe studio
Gamblin Artist Colors will provide each attendee with a FREE sample bag including products and literature.
About the Presenter
Timothy Robert Smith is a Los Angeles based oil painter and muralist, using observational techniques to portray a multi-dimensional perspective of the universe. Since recently graduating from Laguna College of Art and Design with an MFA in studio art, he has had two exhibitions at Copro Gallery in Bergamot Station. He currently teaches at CSU Los Angeles, where he received his BFA degree. Timothy’s artwork can be viewed at www.timothyrobertsmith.com.
At Raw Materials Art Supplies, it is important to us to carry products from the companies who are out there doing good things for artists and art. The work that Gamblin Artists Colors does with their Gamblin Conservation Colors is a good example of that.
In the world of art conservation today, there are three important considerations regarding the materials used on artwork. First, the materials used for this work should be stable – meaning that the materials should not change over time. Second, the materials should be reversible and able to be removed without damaging the original artwork. And third, the binder of the material should visually saturate the pigment in a similar manner as linseed oil.
In the mid-90’s, Robert Gamblin collaborated with a group of conservators to improve upon these considerations. Gamblin Conservation Colors were born from this collaboration. They include 50 lightfast colors – made with pigments found in the Gamblin Artist’s Grade and 1980 oils and bound in a contemporary resin binder, which makes the restorations stable and reversible.
Conservation Colors are not sold to artists for a couple reasons. First, they lack the texture and mark-making possibilities of oils. Second, they demand a stronger solvent than artists have (or are willing to work around) in their studios.
Gamblin Conservation colors is truly a labor of love in support of conservators around the world. When you purchase Gamblin materials, you are also supporting the field of conservation and helping to protect our visual history. We are very grateful for your support.
Oil painters are increasingly invested in the craftsmanship of their artwork. An accomplished and experienced oil painter recently asked us about Gamblin Ground, and why they would use it instead of or in addition to regular gesso. Creating a strong foundation for imagery is an important consideration, and Gamblin Oil Painting Ground creates the perfect foundation for contemporary oil painters. Below are notes on the key characteristics of Gamblin Ground, application tips, and notes about shelf life.
Gamblin Ground Gamblin Oil Painting Ground makes a strong, bright, non-absorbent foundation for oil paintings. Gamblin Ground is formulated from alkyd resin, titanium dioxide, and calcium carbonate – titanium dioxide gives opacity, while calcium carbonate gives tooth for strong adhesion.
Gamblin Ground makes a brighter and less-absorbent ground layer compared to acrylic “gesso” – meaning that oil paint layers on top retain better color saturation. Gamblin Ground can be applied to a “pre-primed” acrylic gesso canvas or panel to make a good painting support a great one.
Not every day is Christmas… We all have a collection of less-than-successful paintings that shouldn’t see the light of day. Since Gamblin Ground is oil-based, it can be used to cover old paintings so the support can be re-used. We recommend roughing up the old painting with sandpaper or steel wool, followed by wiping the surface with a rag wet with Gamsol before the Ground is applied. This will ensure proper adhesion.
Application Because the percentage of pigments is so much higher than in acrylic “gesso”, painters need only apply TWO thin coats of Gamblin Ground instead of the recommended four coats of acrylic. Fabric supports should be sized with PVA Size before applying Gamblin Ground.
Gamblin Ground is thicker than acrylic gesso, and requires different application techniques, which are demonstrated on Gamblin’s Video Demos page.
Shelf Life, Formulation Improvements. We have heard from painters who’ve experienced Gamblin Ground skinning over in the can, and Gamblin has taken steps to mitigate this by managing formula solvent levels and drying rate. They have also improved the Ground by lowering its odor. Ongoing tests show that formula adjustments over the past two years have resulted in reduced skinning and improved shelf life.
Still, Oil Painting Ground is formulated to dry faster than oil colors, and it doesn’t discriminate between drying on a canvas and in the can. Gamblin date stamps the bottom of each can. Painters, please remove the wax paper seal after the first use, drizzle a little Gamsol on the surface of the Ground and cover with a plastic seal (i.e. Ziplock baggie cut to fit). This will help prevent skinning in the can by limiting the Ground’s contact with oxygen.
Gamblin Radiants work together as a system of accent colors, enabling artists to easily and predictably punch-up the color and intensity in their paintings. When used in mixtures, the Radiants allow painters to warm-up or cool-down colors without darkening them. Radiants can also neutralize colors into more nuanced mixtures.
Gamblin Radiant Colors are composed of eight intense tints – mixtures of pure color and white, at Value 7 on the Munsell System. In this page, we share how the Radiant Colors came to be and we showcase how painters utilize Radiant Colors in their work.
Development: a Radiant collaboration
Gamblin Radiant Colors were developed out of Robert Gamblin’s friendship with painter Wolf Kahn. Wolf’s landscapes are spoken in the language of pure color – the natural world is expressed through a vibrant palette and bold shapes. Wolf is just as fluent in working with soft pastels as he is in oil paint. As pastels are a “dry” medium, one would have sticks of pure pigment (Ultramarine Blue, for example) plus several tints of that pigment at different values. Wolf took the same approach to his oil color palette – incorporating pure colors from the tube alongside lighter tints. Robert worked with Wolf in developing the eight intense tints that became known as Radiants.
Each of the Radiant Colors are tints of modern organic pigments. The one exception is Radiant Blue, which is a tint of Ultramarine. Modern organic pigments retain their intensity in tints in mixtures, which is the reason the Radiant Colors maintain such a high chroma at their light values. It’s also worth noting that these modern organic pigments are transparent in nature, yet the Radiant Colors are all opaque, due to the addition of titanium white in their formulas.
Radiant White: the brightest of whites
Gamblin Radiant White is pure titanium dioxide bound in safflower oil. Radiant White is the brightest white oil color Gamblin makes. Safflower is paler than linseed oil which means that Radiant White is not only brighter, but it is more neutral in temperature compared to linseed oil-bound whites. With its high load of titanium dioxide, Radiant White reflects back 97% of the light that falls on it.
Without modification, Radiant White is Gamblin’s most brushable white – meaning it has the least amount of resistance under the brush or painting knife. Radiant White is also slower drying than other whites, making it useful for painters who wish to work wet into wet or otherwise desire more open time.
Radiant Turquoise, Radiant Violet, and Radiant Blue have become my first “go-to” colors for lightening values when cooler colors are needed. Rather than heading straight for my Titanium White, these colors serve me better because all three are cool, very light, and intense and they help with neutralizing colors. For example, if I am trying to neutralize Napthol Red and do not want a dark, warmer color (as I would get if mixed with its complement, Green), I add Radiant Turquoise. The result is a rich, cooler, mid-value color.
Napthol Red mixed with Radiant Turquoise:
Similarly, I can get a more natural violet by mixing Radiant Blue with my Napthol.
Napthol Red mixed with Radiant Blue:
Mixing with Radiant Turquoise vs. Titanium White:
By lightening Quinacridone Violet with Radiant Turquoise instead of Titanium White, I will get more nuanced color mixing. The mixture of Quinacridone Violet and Radiant Turquoise passes through the blue section of the color wheel, yielding beautifully subtle mid-value blues. When Quinacridone Violet is mixed with straight white, the corresponding tints remain in violet hue family.
Here I use mixtures of Quinacridone Violet and Radiant Turquoise in this painting of snow on a sunny day:
Warm and cool Radiant mixtures
Try this: mix Cadmium Orange with Radiant Turquoise in one pile and with Radiant Violet in another. These two greys will be the same value, but one will appear cooler and the other warmer. When placed next to one another in the distant landscape, the beauty of a late afternoon mountain comes to life.
When I started experimenting with Gamblin’s line of Radiant colors, I expected they would end up in the “occasional use” drawer. To my surprise, I found myself employing them in nearly every painting—especially figurative works—with Radiant Green and Radiant Turquoise claiming permanent spots on my palette. Some of the others (like Radiant Red and Violet) join the party almost as often. Whenever I teach or give a portrait demo, the first thing people ask me about are “those bright colors” on my palette and how to use them.
I find Radiant Green and Radiant Turquoise particularly useful in adjusting the hue and/or temperature within a painting, while maintaining light values. Others in the Radiant line, such as Radiant Violet and Radiant Red, are almost impossible to substitute. The Radiant Violet is very cold in color temperature. I’ve seen nothing else like it on the market. Depending on the nature of the light source, Radiant Violet and/or Radiant Red are often the perfect choice for painting the brightest highlights on a model without having to default to titanium white.
In this passage of a recent alla prima portrait (below), you can see a subtle light blue along the temple area and around the eye socket. In those areas where there is a plane change, gradually turning away from the light, the color becomes cooler, but not necessarily darker. This was a perfect opportunity to use Radiant Turquoise.
In addition to creating luscious skin tones, the Radiant line is great for nailing local color. The little boy in this portrait (below) was wearing a white and sea-green shirt, and sat outdoors on an overcast day (so cool light). Instead of mixing white with Phthalo or some other darker color, I was able to use Radiant Green almost straight out of the tube for that shirt. Additionally, you can see passages in his face and throughout the painting (leaves, stone steps, etc.) where I mixed the green and turquoise in, creating an overall harmony for the piece.
In this portrait of Colquitt (below), I used Radiant Violet all over the background (in front of a light transparent wash of ivory black), and for the bold highlight in the middle of his forehead.
Radiant colors are invaluable for cooling down a color mixture without getting a darker value and for obtaining bright highlight or local colors without having to use a ton of white. Whether or not you are painting from life, the Radiant colors are wonderful shortcuts for all of your “high key” needs.
An Abundance of Green At risk of stating the obvious, there is a lot of green in the world.
This is true not only in nature, but in science. Residing in the middle of the spectrum of visible light, the human eye most readily sees green more than any other color. With great abundance, comes great variety. Our task as painters to navigate this broad color family comes with many challenges and possibilities – as greens vary drastically in regards to temperature and intensity.
The color green can put our eyes (and minds) at rest. It is the world-wide color of environmental consciousness. Green is a primary of light (additive color-mixing), but not of pigments (subtractive color-mixing).
Navigating Green We’ve heard from painters over the years that green is a challenging color family to mix within. It is. Not because we don’t have greens readily available from tubes, but because there is just so much darn green to navigate. We are so closely tied to nature, it can be a challenge to our sensibilities to incorporate greens of great intensity into our color palettes and paintings.
Let’s dive in and explore where the greens in the Gamblin palette fit into Color Space:
Note that we’ve included Cadmium Chartreuse and Phthalo Turquoise in this mapping, as they sit on the edge of green and yellow, and green and blue, respectively.
Mineral Greens and the Phthalo Boost Mineral green pigments, such as Viridian, Cobalt Green and Chromium Green Oxide beautifully grey down in their tints and mixtures making them useful when depicting muted greens of the natural world.
To fully capture the diversity of this hue family, greens with greater chroma may be necessary. Permanent Green Light and Emerald Green are ready to go for this. The cool, blue-leaning Phthalo Green and the warmer Phthalo Emerald are both deep from the tube, yet beautifully vibrant in their transparency and tints. You don’t have to use phthalo pigments long before appreciating their high tinting-strength. Another key characteristic of this family of these modern organic pigments is their intensity in their tints and mixtures. Thus, Phthalo Green and Phthalo Emerald are incredibly useful in boosting the chroma of muted greens and pushing the envelope on incorporating “unworldly” greens into our painting.
Because green is a secondary color, many painter choose to mix all of their greens. The possibilities are endless. For simplicity’s sake, the examples below are limited to two yellows (Cadmium Lemon and Indian Yellow) and two blues (Cobalt Teal and Ultramarine Blue).
A six-color, “split primary” palette is one popular approach in choosing and organizing one’s color palette. Essentially, it utilizes a warm and cool for each primary. With the mixing of pigments (subtractive color mixing), there will always be some amount of intensity of color that is lost when two colors are blended together. The mixture is absorbing (subtracting) more of the spectrum of visible light, compared to each of the original colors in the mixture. However, the closer any two colors are on the perimeter of the color wheel, the least amount of intensity will be lost. The Cadmium Lemon and Cobalt Teal are both on the green side of their respective color families. Therefore, the resulting mixture will yield the mixed greens with the highest chroma. Cadmium Lemon and Cobalt Teal are also opaque, so their mixtures reflect more light off the surface and result in greens of lighter value (brightness).
Colors that live farther apart on the perimeter of the color wheel lose more intensity when mixed together. Indian Yellow and Ultramarine Blue is a good example. Each have a red bias (green’s complement), so their mixture will result in a green closer to the neutral center of the color wheel. Indian Yellow and Ultramarine Blue are also transparent in nature, trapping more light within the paint layer and creating a deeper value.
Positioned a moderate distance from each other, mixtures of Cadmium Lemon and Ultramarine Blue, as well as Cobalt Teal and Indian Yellow, predictably fill out the middle of the green hue family- neither the brightest nor the dullest of greens.
“The secret of mixing greens is an understanding of color temperature and value. Every tone and hue must relate to adjacent tones and hues. I prefer to have a large number of colors on my palette, representing numerous points on the color wheel. This allows me greater variety of temperature and saturation in my mixed colors (whether they are light values or dark values) and more options for toning a color if I want to shift or neutralize it. This is especially true for greens. Allowing subtle transitions of warm to cool, dark to light within a passage can make a beautiful statement. Setting a complement like a red, orange, purple or pink next to, or within greens can make all the difference. Additionally, the process of glazing to achieve different greens is important to me. Sometimes I will directly paint a lighter, warmer, relatively opaque green knowing that at a future point I will glaze a darker, cooler, transparent green (or other transparent color) over it. The two work together to make a new color you can’t get any other way.” – Douglas Fryer
Why no more Rabbit Skin Glue and Traditional Gesso? We recognize that many painters value the working properties of rabbit skin glue and traditional gesso. We have our own values, however, and these products do not align with them. We don’t want any part of the the rabbit farming industry. Period.
For decades, Gamblin PVA Size has given artists a much higher performing and vegan alternative to Rabbit Skin Glue. Our Ground gives painters brighter colors, greater permanence, and an animal-free alternative to Traditional Gesso for preparing panels and canvases. It’s time to leave the past in the past.
Thanks again. Thank you so much for your longstanding support of Gamblin and for all of your ideas and feedback along the way. We’ve been listening and have some exciting things coming this year and in the years ahead.
Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors makes more of their artist’s grade Titanium White than any other color… by far. For most painters, it’s the first white we use. And for some, the only white ever used. There are some good reasons for this. GamblinTitanium White has a strong tinting strength and an unparalleled, beautiful texture. It’s terrific for direct painting techniques and for quickly lightening the value of other colors.
With that said, many painters could be better served at times by whites other than Titanium White. Swapping Titanium White for any number of alternatives can solve problems and create meaningful, new artistic possibilities. Let’s explore a few.
Pure White Whether the painting in question is abstract, representational, a bit of both or somewhere in between, there are situations where the use of straight, pure white is called for. For these situations, we recommend Radiant White, our brightest white. Radiant White has a high content of titanium dioxide pigment and is bound in safflower oil, yielding a bright white that has a neutral temperature. Our testing indicates that safflower whites hold their colors best over time.
Tempering Tinting Strength No white pounds color down like Titanium White. It’s high tint strength can overwhelm colors, making them appear chalky in tints. A number of our other whites contain less titanium dioxide, which means a lower tint strength, and in turn more saturated color mixtures as well as more subtlety and control in color mixing.
If you find Titanium White a bit too strong in mixtures, we’d suggest trying our Titanium Zinc White. We designed it to be the perfect, all-around mixing white and to have the perfect texture to support the work of painting.
Flake White Replacement combines a lower tinting strength with a dense, ropey texture. Even stiffer than Titanium White, but less powerful in mixtures. Titanium White in our 1980 line is a valuable alternative when an even lower tint strength is desired. Titanium Zinc White and 1980 Titanium White are both bound in safflower oil.
The swatches below show Titanium White, Titanium Zinc White,and Titanium White 1980 mixed 5:1 with Quinacridone Red.
For comparison sake, we prepared the same mixtures, but reversed the ratios – 1:5 white into Quinacridone Red:
How about matching the color of your white to the color of your light?
GamblinWarm White and Cool White are designed for painters who want to factor the color of the light into their color mixtures. The color of the light source influences all of the other colors in the painting’s subject matter. Using a white that matches the temperature of your light makes it much easier to create a consistent quality of light and color harmony throughout your painting.
Why not take this a bit further and use other high-value colors as your white? Below are a few examples.
Portland Grey Light
“Using Portland Grey Light as a white is great for tonal painting. It is slightly darker in value than pure white so the value range is limited on the light end. But what is most exciting to me is its effect on color. It creates lovely harmonious mixtures when added to the cadmium colors on my palette. The result is beautiful half tones that are not as chalky as they would be if white were used. These harmonious, greyed-down tones sit beautifully together on the canvas as a result of them each having a common ingredient…Portland Grey Light.” – Eric Jacobsen jacobsenfineart.com
In our discussion of colored greys, we consider Titanium Buff to be a yellow-grey. When used as a white, it simultaneously mutes and warms colors and results in a subtle harmony.
“On an Alaska fishing trip in early July, I shot a photo as first morning light permeated the distant misty landscape and played across the ocean surface with a warmth that belied the cold morning. To capture this unique atmosphere back in the studio, I set aside my usual Titanium White for tinting and switched to Warm WhiteandTitanium Buff. Warm White was used in a limited fashion for my lightest values and highlights, while Titanium Buff was used in nearly all color mixtures. As a muted tinting color, Titanium Buff unified and subdued my color palette helping to better capture the scene.” – Dave Bernard Gamblin Product Specialist
Portland Warm & Cool Greys
“I found my paintings became chalky and dense due to the overuse of Titanium White. So, I set that tube a bit out of reach on my palette and now use Portland Warm Grey or Portland Cool Grey when I am looking for the “right white.” There is very little real white in the natural world and these soft grey tones have proven to be a good option on their own or as a basis for mixing other colors.”- Kris Ekstrand www.krisekstrand.com
Spring cleaning means something different at Gamblin Artists Colors. Every Spring, Gamblin changes the filters in their Donaldson Torit air filtration system, capturing any pigment that could become airborne when mixing their colors, and make paint using the pigments harvested. When you mix together all the colors in the rainbow (or all the colors on your palette) you get a unique grey every time. Gamblin recycles that pigment into a unique color, Torrit Grey. This year brings us two shades of Torrit Grey, available now. Get a FREE tube of Torrit Grey oil with $25 purchase of Gamblin Artist Grade Oils, on sale for 40% off during PleinAirpril. Come and get your tube and share your Torrit-inspired work using the hashtag #torritgrey on social media.
It’s time again for School Me Saturday, our informal art school of sorts, and today we’re learning all about Gamblin Artists’ Oil Color‘s range of red oil colors:
Along with black and white, red made up the palette of pre-historic times. The combination of iron and oxygen is not only responsible for the red that flows through us but also the red in the landscape – the latter of which exists on Gamblin palettes in the form of Burnt Sienna, Venetian Red and Indian Red.
“I chose Cadmium Red Light as our company color, after reading Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art, which declares that yellow advances, blue recedes, green is at rest, and red vibrates in place. I saw Cadmium Red Light as vibrating with tremendous potential, which is what I hope our colors do for artists – to give them the potential to be their best with high energy.” — Robert Gamblin
From valuable earth colors, to bright and opaque Cadmium Red Light, to the cool transparency of Quinacridone, Gamblin Reds vary greatly in terms of their chroma, temperature, opacity and transparency. Below are all of Gamblin’s reds mapped out in Color Space:
MINERAL REDS Brown Pink (PR101, PR149), TRANSPARENT Burnt Sienna (PBr7), SEMI-TRANSPARENT Cadmium Red Light (PR108), OPAQUE Cadmium Red Medium (PR108), OPAQUE Cadmium Red Deep (PR108), OPAQUE Indian Red (PR101), OPAQUE Portland Warm Grey (PW6, PR101, PBk11), OPAQUE Transparent Earth Red (PR101), TRANSPARENT Venetian Red (PR101), OPAQUE
MODERN REDS Alizarin Permanent (PR177), TRANSPARENT Napthol Red (PR112), SEMI-TRANSPARENT Napthol Scarlet (PR188), SEMI-TRANSPARENT Perylene Red (PR149), TRANSPARENT Quinacridone Magenta (PR122), TRANSPARENT Quinacridone Red (PV19), TRANSPARENT Radiant Magenta (PV19, PW6), OPAQUE Radiant Red (PV149, PW6), OPAQUE
Alizarin Permanent – closer to its namesake
If we had to consolidate all of the feedback we’ve received over the years regarding Alizarin Permanent, it’s that painters miss the chroma of traditional Alizarin Crimson in tints and mixtures.
Gamblin Alizarin Permanent was a mixture of anthraquinone red (PR177) and a small amount of phthalo emerald (PG36) which was in the mix to deepen the mass tone of the color. It’s such a small amount and this pigment is so sensitive to the pressure of the mill, that we felt that AP was getting too dark, especially compared to traditional Alizarin Crimson. Alizarin Crimson has always been our target for the color of Alizarin Permanent.
So, we moved AP to a single pigment (PR177) formula. Not only does this make it closer to the masstone and transparency of Alizarin Crimson, but it is higher in chroma in tints and mixtures. If you want to match the darker formula, add a very small amount of either Chromatic Black or Phthalo Emerald.