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Thursday, November 22, 2018

1980 Oil Colors by Gamblin

The River in Autumn
12x14 Oil - Available

We painting instructors, who often also are professional artists, admonish our students to not use "student grade" oil paints.  The wisdom, of course, is that "student grade" paints are lesser-quality and made with fillers, which means you have to use more to get the job done.  (One might make the same comparison between regular coffee and decaf.)  But now along comes Gamblin's 1980 Oil Colors.

I recently picked up the Introductory Set (list price $54.95), which includes 37 ml tubes of cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, phthalo green, ivory black, titanium white plus a tube of Galkyd Gel.  I wanted to give it a spin because Gamblin says:
In order to reduce the cost of oil colors, some manufacturers use gels and waxes to stiffen colors and replace traditional pigments with less expensive ones.  Our approach is different. 1980 colors are formulated with pure pigments, the finest refined linseed oil and marble dust (calcium carbonate). More affordable colors have been made with these three ingredients since oil painting began.
With 1980 colors, artists experience colors that are true, without homogenized texture or muddy color mixtures. Our approach of using both traditional raw materials and processes ensures that artists experience the luscious working properties that they expect from their oil colors.
If this set worked for me, I felt, it would also work as a low-cost alternative for students who are just getting into oil painting—and for other professionals who are looking for ways to cut cost without sacrificing quality.

I did notice on the labeling that two of the metal-based colors had been supplemented with organic pigments.  Cadmium yellow light is a mixture of cadmium yellow (PY35) and arylide yellow (PY3); cadmium red light is a mixture of cadmium red (PR108) and napthol red (PR188).   I suspect the less-expensive organic pigments were added to give the more-costly metal-based ones, which had been diluted somewhat with marble dust, more punch.  However, for me, both of these colors worked almost exactly the same as the Artist Grade versions.  Frankly, there's not much difference between the $24.95 tube of Artist Grade cadmium and the $9.95 tube of 1980 Oil cadmium—just the price.

As I worked with the paints, I found them to be a tiny bit stiffer out of the tube than the regular paints, but the colors, tinting strength and mixing properties were very close.  There are other colors to be tested, of course.  But for now, as a professional artist, I see no problem with using these in my own practice.