Reader questions

Recently, a reader emailed me several questions that I want to share:

i am looking for the perfect oil paint and it is not easy to choose and find the one that suits me. it would save me from buying several brands to test. it scares me.

I have seen your excellent work on testing the different brands, it is great and what an adventure!
I’m surprised that Rembrandt has gone down in quality even though it’s very pigmented and buttery it seems.

I’m sure I preferred very vibrant colors that were creamy for the fades and not too oily for the details (grass, leaves, hair, etc.). It’s probably in the high end oils like block or MH that you recommend.

what solvent do you use to make the paint creamier?

what do you think of the van gogh brand?

are the colors in gamblin really vibrant?

thank you very much for your insight.

Perfect paint. There is no perfect commercial paint. The best paints are the ones with highest pigment-to-binder ratio. Old Holland is considered the top brand for this reason. Heavily-pigmented paints are stiff. It’s best for you to make stiff paint malleable or ‘buttery’ yourself rather than the manufacturer. This way you know what you’ve used.

Rembrandt oils. I still use some Rembrandt colors. Their raw umber is my favorite version of this important color.

Medium. I use copal varnish, turpentine, and linseed oil 1:1:1 with a drop of Courtrai drier added to it. For something that you can make yourself that is a acceptable try turpentine, mineral spirits, and oil. Experiment with the ratios. You might start 1:1:1. Just mix the ingredients together before you start painting. By the way, I think this is what Old Holland uses in its painting medium, although I don’t know the ratios.

Van Gogh oils. I haven’t tried this brand. I’ve been asked about these oils several times so I’ll test and review them on my Oil Paint Brand review page.

Gamblin oils. Gamblin uses alkali refined linseed oil for its paint binder. The process of alkali refining removes fats which makes the oil short–hard to wet. Many manufacturers put some of the fat back into the oil after it’s refined to counter this undesirable effect. For me, Gamblin remains too short, so I don’t use it. Although I must say that their paint seems heavily pigmented.

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