I ordered a limited palette selection of Gamblin oil colors for another sketch of coastal oaks. Gamblin offers a broad selection of very useful colors; I selected five colors that were similar to the palette I used for the Utrecht and Daniel Smith sketching exercises.
The ultramarine blue, quinacridone red, burnt sienna and cadmium yellow light are the same as in the other palettes; added was a tube of indian yellow. Also sent free was a tube of “Torrit Grey”; every spring, Gamblin Artists Colors collects a wealth of pigments from their Torit® Air Filtration system. They filter the air around the areas where they handle dry pigments so that the workers are not exposed to pigment dust. Rather than sending any of the high quality, expensive pigments into the landfill, Gamblin paint makers recycle them into “Gamblin Torrit Grey” which is sent free each spring to purchasers of their paint. The color of the mix this year is a dark brown with a very stiff consistency. I did use it in some of the darker portions of the painting.
Some explanation of the coastal oak habitat I’ve been painting is in order. Along the coastal plain there is an ecosystem with a mix of oak species and scrub pines. The soil is sandy and the plants are subject to coastal storms and harsh conditions. Because of these severe conditions the oaks are often gnarled, with spreading branches low to the ground. The ground is covered with oak leaves and filtered light reaches the floor of the forest at most times of the year. Vines and briars make walking in this habitat difficult unless there is a trail that has been cut. Deer and coyote use this habitat, as do rabbits and many bird species. The light on the trunks of the trees makes for an interesting painting subject.
I liked the Gamblin oil colors that I worked with. I particularly liked the Cadmium Yellow Light, which was lighter and brighter than the Utrecht Cadmium Yellow Light. It is light enough and bright enough to be a substitute for a lemon yellow. It had good color intensity. The Indian Yellow was an orange yellow earth color that I found to be very useful for depicting the oak leaves on the forest floor; it blended well with the red and burnt sienna. With ultramarine blue, it formed a wonderful olive green color, making it a very useful landscape color. I used titanium white in all my comparison sketches; I used it with ultramarine blue for light blue sky color and to add the light accents on the tree trunks (a lightened yellow was used as well). Darks were made with ultramarine blue, quinacridone red and burnt sienna in various combinations. Both lightened burnt sienna and indian yellow were used in the trail color. Good tree greens were made with the blue and cadmium yellow. I was quite satisfied with this limited palette; I liked the buttery consistency of the Gamblin paints and would definitely use them again. The torrit grey was a very stiff paint; it was useful for a few dark accents, but I liked the darks I mixed myself from the limited palette better.
Here’s the almost finished sketch along a trail filled with coastal oaks. It is interesting to look at all three of the limited palette sketches (See the page with recent artwork here.) Although all three of the paintings were done with similar limited palettes and similar subject matter, the overall color and look of each of the paintings is different. I’d be interested to read comments from you about which paints and which colors you liked the best.
Of course, the final question is “Which of the brands of paint did you like the best?”. All of them were quality paints with the ability to provide good color in paintings. Only Utrecht and Gamblin offer cadmium colors. I know that Daniel Smith doesn’t offer them because of concerns about cadmium; however, it seems that the Gamblin cadmium paints have a very low toxicity. Here I quote Gamblin:
“American manufacturers of cadmium pigments have developed production systems that yield cadmium pigments that are relatively insoluble in the human digestive system. They have been so successful that Gamblin Cadmium oil colors DO NOT REQUIRE an ASTM health-warning label for ingestion. Over 25 years ago when I first started making oil colors, cadmium pigments were much more soluble in the human system than they are now. Cadmium pigments contained about 1000 parts per million (PPM) bio available cadmium. Now cadmium pigments that I choose to make Gamblin Artists Colors contain only about 5 PPM cadmium that can be absorbed through ingestion.”
Gamblin provides “Studio Notes” on painting with their painting materials, including safety of their paints and working without solvents (which is how I paint). I have found all their resource material very helpful. Utrecht provides only a small amount of resource material about their paints, although on line there is full information about the pigment composition of their paints. Daniel Smith used to offer a lot more information about their materials on line, less so today, particularly for their oil colors. The pigment composition is there though if you search for it. And I did find (after a lot of searching) an interactive color wheel for their watercolor colors here.
The consistency of both the Utrecht and Gamblin paints was excellent. Most of the Daniel Smith colors were good, too, except for some separation of the paint and linseed oil as I noted before. Daniel Smith has the broadest range of colors, but offers no cadmium colors. Their cadmium “hues” are very expensive.
I think one could paint happily with any of these brands of paint. Gamblin paints are slightly more expensive than the other two brands, but buying large tubes and shopping when the paints are on sale and when the “on line” merchants are offering free shipping makes the the paints competitive with one another. All of these paints are good alternatives to the European brands like Winsor and Newton. So, if you want to “buy US” and have good paints, these manufacturers offer you a quality alternative.