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.
On August 24th, Raw Materials Art Supplies was lucky to have Certified Ross Instructor David Arquette teach a Bob Ross Painting Class—our very first class in our new location! To no one’s surprise, the class sold out quickly.
In just under two hours, students eager to start a painting hobby learned how to paint an outdoor landscape. Based upon the PBS “Joy of Painting” series with Bob Ross, these artists of various abilities and experience painted and learned Bob Ross’ painting techniques, thanks to David Arquette’s guidance and friendly style.
If you missed out and couldn’t get a seat to the class, don’t fret. David said he had so much fun he’d like to do it again.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Attention oil painters! Want to paint some produce together? Join Roofless Painters for a still life workshop at the one and only Grand Central Market, in DTLA’s Historic Core this Saturday, April 6th from 6-8pm. The Roofless Painters will set up easel stations around the produce stands of one of the market’s vendors and paint them from life. The workshop is $50, and all painting materials are supplied (medium-OIL). Setup and clean-up is on them, too – just show up and paint!
We first met the Roofless Painters at the 2016 Los Angeles Plein Air Festival, when artist Julio Panisello won the Grand Prize for his oil painting of Angel’s Flight. A talented artist, Julio is also a beloved educator and the inspirational founder/leader of Roofless Painters, a nomadic painting atelier in Los Angeles.
Happy Plein Air-pril! Have you always wanted to try busting out of your art studio and painting en plein air? Or has it just been a while since you’ve been out painting? Either way, you’re in luck! Thanks to Royal Talens, artist Justin Vining walks you through the basics of getting started with plein air painting. Let’s get started!
Less is More – Design a simple/lean setup. This will enable you to go to farther, cooler places and make it easier to just get out and go on a whim!
Start out with a Limited/Split Primary Palette – A warm & cool red, yellow, blue, titanium white, and perhaps a burnt umber or burnt sienna. You don’t need to carry a black- true black is rarely found in nature.
Brushes – I prefer hog bristle long filberts & long flats. Start out your painting with a big brush and save your small brushes for the very end.
Painting Surface – I like using panels outside as they are more compact, and durable with no risk of puncture. Carrying a canvas through tricky outdoor terrain can become risky.
Start Thin (Grisaille Layer) – Your first layer is almost like not painting at all- scrub in a “dirty” dry value that begins to describe the composition and form.
Think in the Most Basic Shapes – Squint really hard at almost any scene and you can quickly break it down into 2 or 3 big shapes of value. Use these shapes to start your painting.
Mixing Colors – I will generally premix 3-5 of my major colors and then start mixing the variations off those main ones. Put some color on the end of your palette knife and hold it up to what you are trying to match it to. Squint real hard to check value and color accuracy.
Headlamp (hiking out in dark)
Summer – bug spray, suntan lotion
Spring/Fall – waterproof boots/poncho
Nocturne – 2 piano lights in case natural street lamp light is not an option
Winter – ultra warm gloves & boots are the key here, its easy to keep the core warm, its a lot harder to keep your feet and hands dry and warm
Below are the colors that make up Justin’s Rembrandt Oils palette. We also recommend using Van Gogh Oil Colors by Royal Talens, an oil paint that offers Royal Talens quality at an economical price. The same high quality pigments that are used in Rembrandt Oils are used here, only in lower concentration.
411 Burnt Sienna
409 Burnt Umber
406 Ultramarine Deep
342 Brown Madder Deep
377 Perm Red Medium
227 Yellow Ochre
208 Cad Yellow Light
118 Titanium White
We hope this helps you get started with plein air painting and that you try painting the urban landscapes around Raw Materials. Now, go paint!
Justin Vining is an Indianapolis-based artist, specializing and landscapes and cityscapes. Justin studied Art Education at Purdue University and taught elementary art for three years. Following his tenure as a teacher, Justin attended Valparaiso Law school, where he rekindled his love for creating between classes and clerking. Shortly after graduating and passing the bar in 2010, Justin decided to pursue art full time and hasn’t looked back since. See his work here.
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.