Painting with Gamblin Radiant Colors

Gamblin Radiant Colors: (clockwise from top left) Radiant Lemon, Radiant Yellow, Radiant Red, Radiant Magenta, Radiant Violet, Radiant Blue, Radiant Turquoise, Radiant Green

Vibrant. Subtle. Harmonious.

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

Wolf Kahn’s Studio

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.

Wolf KahnA Brook Flows By It, oil on canvas 36″ x 52″

Modern Tints

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

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.

Techniques for painting with Radiant Colors

Lori Putnam

Colored whites

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:

Lori PutnamBlurred Lines, oil on linen, 28″ x 36″

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.

Anna Rose Bain

More than Radiant

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.

Anna Rose BainKat Profile

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.

Anna Rose BainSimon
Anna Rose BainSimon (detail)

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.

Anna Rose BainColquitt

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.

Featured artists and contributors:

Wolf Kahn

Lori Putnam

Anna Rose Bain

R&F Pigment Stick Video Tutorial w/ Charles Forsberg

R&F Pigment Sticks Video Tutorial with Charles Fosberg

Charles Forsberg demonstrates how Pigment Sticks by R&F Handmade Paints are both a drawing and painting medium like no one else. He frequently returns to drawing, forcefully striking marks into the heavily manipulated buttery paint, then tearing it apart, alternating in a push-pull sequence of drawing and smearing, scraping back, revealing previous drawing marks, and piling what he has scraped up into thick sculptural mounds.

Painting becomes an amazing and unceasing gestural exercise over many hours, as Forsberg turns the formless ooze he started with into a powerful structure of shapes and sharply accented marks. www.charlesforsberg.com/

As part of our MOVING SALE, R&F Pigment Sticks are ON SALE at 15% OFF, including all R&F Pigment Stick Sets. The 6-color sets come packaged in a 6½” × 7½” cradled Ampersand Gessobord with six (6) 38ml pigment sticks. The 12-color set coms in a 8″ × 12″ Ampersand Gessobord with twelve (12) 38ml pigment sticks.

Experience Green with Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors

Douglas FryerHighway Farm (top), Patch of Sunlight (bottom left), Edge of an English Village (bottom right). http://douglasfryer.blogspot.com/

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:

Mineral Greens
Cadmium Chartreuse (PY35, PG36)  OPAQUE
Cadmium Green (PY35, PG18)  OPAQUE
Olive Green (PBr7, PY75, PB29) SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Terre Verte (PY43, PG18, PBk9) TRANSPARENT
Chromium Oxide Green (PG17)  OPAQUE
Cobalt Green (PG19)  SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Viridian (PG18)  TRANSPARENT
Modern Greens
Green Gold (PY129) TRANSPARENT
Sap Green (PB15:2, PY83) TRANSPARENT
Permanent Green Light (PY74, PG7) SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Phthalo Emerald (PG36) TRANSPARENT
Emerald Green (PG36, PW6, PY74)  SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Phthalo Green (PG7) TRANSPARENT
Radiant Green (PG36, PY3, PW6) OPAQUE
Phthalo Turquoise (PB15:2, PG7) TRANSPARENT

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.

Mixing Greens

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

Douglas FryerMill Near Sheepscombehttp://douglasfryer.blogspot.com/

Cold Wax Painting with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium

It’s a rare occurrence for one specific painting medium to have a whole genre of painting associated with it, but Cold Wax Medium is one such medium. Cold Wax Painting is not defined by subject matter nor the degree of realism or abstraction, Cold Wax Painting is unified by artists’ shared interest in experimentation, texture and the physicality of paint layers.

Cold Wax Painting with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium

What is Cold Wax Painting?

Cold Wax Painting is any type of painting that heavily utilizes Cold Wax Medium into oil colors. In its own way, Cold Wax Painting blurs the line between oil painting and encaustic painting.

What is Cold Wax Medium?

Gamblin Cold Wax Medium is a mixture of natural beeswax (wax pastilles), Gamsol and a small amount of alkyd resin. The term “cold” in Cold Wax Medium and Cold Wax Painting refers to the fact that heat is not required for working with this wax medium – as it dries by solvent evaporation (Gamsol), rather than the cooling of the wax, as in encaustic painting. As the Gamsol evaporates out of the medium, the soft wax hardens to the density of a beeswax candle.

Unlike other Gamblin painting mediums, which increase the flow and gloss of oil colors to varying degrees, Cold Wax Medium makes oil colors thicker and more matte.

Cold Wax Painting Techniques

Cold Wax Medium is a dense paste, it is excellent in creating a variety of textures within a painting. It has a “short” characteristic and gives a clean break off of the brush or knife, retaining the sharp peaks of impasto. These working properties allow for expressive brushmarks and the ability to carve into paint layers with palette knives. Cold Wax Medium also gives oil colors a beautiful translucent quality, similar to the seductive surfaces of encaustic paintings.

Cold Wax Painting utilizes experimental approaches, including the use of brayers, stencils, and textural elements such as bubble wrap or wire screens. The possibilities are endless!

From the artists who wrote the book on Cold Wax Medium, Jerry McLaughlin & Rebecca Crowell demonstrates some of their Cold Wax Painting techniques in the video below. 

Compatibility

Cold Wax Medium is compatible with oil colors, alkyd/oil colors, alkyd-based painting mediums, and Gamsol. Fast-drying mediums such as Galkyd and Galkyd Gel will increase the tack when mixed with Cold Wax Medium. Neo Megilp, Gamblin’s silky, soft gel medium, gives the wax a smoother feel and will round the peaks of impasto. These alkyd mediums will increase the gloss level of Cold Wax (just as adding Cold Wax lowers the gloss level of these mediums). Adding Gamsol to Cold Wax Medium will make it more fluid without adding gloss.

Cold Wax Artists

We’ve been fortunate to work with some wonderful artists who explore Cold Wax Painting techniques in their work. Whether these artists are working in representational or abstract modes of painting, they all utilize Cold Wax Medium for its unique working properties its effects on the resulting paint layers.

Since I first began using Cold Wax Medium 15 years ago, abstraction for me has become increasingly an expressive interaction with the materials. In mixing Cold Wax with oils, the body and the way paint can be layered, the enhanced drying time, and the transparency that it affords all lead to textures and visual depth that are the result of the process. Using Cold Wax helped me to move beyond conscious rendering of abstract ideas into a way of working that felt much deeper and more intuitive. Balancing the spontaneous aspects of my process with thoughtful editing and intention, the work has evolved into a true personal voice. —Rebecca Crowell

My painting process is centered on creating highly textured pieces by building many layers of oils colors, pigments, cold wax, and other amendments including cement, sand, soil, grit, and ash. —Jerry McLaughlin

I have been using Cold Wax and oil since the 80’s. I love how it extends the oil paint, the textural possibilities, and the way is sets up quickly to create layers. —Lisa Pressman

I fell in love with the rich luminosity of oil and cold wax in 2012 and have been using it ever since. I love how cold wax medium mixed with oil paint creates interesting surfaces and texture, allowing me to scrape, push, pull, and reveal previous layers. Sometimes it feels like I’m going on an archeological dig the way I am able to excavate and scratch into the layers, yet continually add more layers in an intricate dance to conceal and reveal. —Dayna Collins

Video: Oil Painting Tutorial with Robert Burridge

If you missed Robert Burridge’s fantastic oil painting tutorials from the 2018 Strathmore Online Workshops, we’ll be re-playing them here, starting with Setting Up Your Studio & the 4 C’s. What are the 4 C’s? Concept, Composition, Color Combination, and Commit & Continue. If you’ve always wanted to try oil painting but didn’t know where to start, or if you’re looking for inspiration and painting techniques, then let’s get started!

If you’re in need of supplies, the Back To Whatever Super Sale: Winter Edition ends February 8th, so take advantage of our sale on Gamblin Artists’ Oil Colors, Gamblin 1980 Oil Colors, M. Graham Oil Colors, and Williamsburg Handmade Oil Colors — all at 40% off until February 8th!!!

Not only are M. Graham Oil Colors 40% off until February 8th, but you can also get a FREE tube of Alizarin Crimson or Manganese Blue Hue when you buy three (3) or more tubes. It’s a great time to try this high-quality oil paint ground in walnut oil.