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Re: oil paints


From: Larry Seiler (lseiler_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Tue Jul 15 2003 - 07:34:51 PDT

>For those of you that paint in oils...what brand do your prefer?
> Rebecca


I'll share some websites and thoughts with you. For one, I am a
professional plein air painter....member of NAPPAP, "National Academy of
Professional Plein Air Painters" and some might be surprised just how
frequently artists talk about this type of information.

For is always a good resource for artists and art
teachers. It is an online virtual artist's community of 23,000 members, and
I moderate a number of forums for them. Everything from critiques, demos,
articles, genres, materials, the business of art...and so forth is
discussed. They have in addition a rating of materials based upon artist's
opinions and preferences.

Interestingly...quite a few artists have tried Gamblin's and like his paint.
I personally have not tried it, looking for some possible other
brands to artist in my NAPPAP association emailed me personally to
recommend Gamblin, and his work is absolutely a marvel. Before you write
Gamblin off entirely, take a look at his website and work and one has to ask
"Gamblin is not quite good, how can this guy do with this paint what he
William Scott Jennings-

As for students...volume at a good price and decent paint might be a
consideration. I myself have been learning toward doing larger plein airs
on location. Edward Refield was a Buck County Impressionist in the late
1800's in Pennsylvania, and did 50" x 54" alla prima canvases in oil in the
field...that is, start to finish in one session. I did one 36" x 42"
recently...and used a whole tube of white paint alone. Such sizes suck up
the paint let me tell you, but they are grand and you can nearly walk into

At any of the sites a member shared with me was oil paint that
comes in caulking tubes. You could actually focus on smaller containers for
the students to use, lay out and fill with color. For example...some plein
air painters use those larger sized pill containers of Monday thru Sunday
with snap hinged covers, and fill each reservoir. Doing something like
this, you wouldn't have covers getting twisted on at bad angles, tubes
twisted and cracked, and so forth. One of our NAPPAP painters uses this
paint and swears by it, "Classic Artist Oils"....and here is that website-

Myself, as a teacher...I prefer teaching with acrylics, convenient
Chromacryl pumps and it is one room K-12, and I would think
oils to be a major potential of problems with hidden messes, improperly
cleaned brushes, etc; however, I have considered letting some independent
advanced art students use the Grumbacher Max water soluable oils.

For myself as an goes oils, I have been using Winsor Newton oils
and Maimera. Student grade is Winton...and really not bad. Pigments are
consistent, ground well. I personally use REAL copal medium I get from a
friend and family in New Mexico that makes it from petrified trees,
is toxic and would be inappropriate for students. For yourself though, it
makes painting wonderful. Used properly, it is not harmful.

I would suggest imitating something of Charles Hawthrone's Cape Cod thinking
of working with students, taken a step further with his pupil and associate
Henry Hensche. Charles had students work mostly with painting knives. Not
"palette" knives...but rather "painting" knives. I myself use a diamond
shape amongst my brush work, but use of the knife forces focus on color,
form, and value...and restrains against early unnecessary obsession with
detail. There are a number of good online resources that teach Hawthorne's
and Hensche's methods. Hawthorne and Hensche set up colored wooded blocks
outdoors on tables against one another where students could witness and see
the affects of atmospheric light, and get away from thinking of local color.
The top of a green or red block exposed to a brilliant blue overhead sky for
example no longer appears green or red.

The advantage of a painting knife besides putting less focus on
with a rag in one hand, you can easily wipe it clean and pick up new paint.
It saves on brushes, on improper cleaning of brushes, and students are more
likely to apply clean color to their painting surfaces. Improperly cleaned
or wiped brushes means that color turns to mud in the bristle hairs and
impedes good painting results. I've done plein airs that were nearly 70-80%
completed with the painting knife. My methods with oil is a 10-15 minute
ragging in to make an underpainting to build upon, wearing a rubber glove
and using a rag wrapped around my finger. I dip in turps and pigment and
work up masses/form, values of light and dark, and a base of color to build
upon. My demo's are archived on my website...and I believe Judy D. has a
few links on her site as well.

For can easily make a simple medium stored in baby food jars,
an old recipe I use to use was 1/2 Stand Oil, 1/4 Damar Varnish, 1/4 turps. old associate I have come to know, Don a painter
living in Maui, Hawaii. He has had an obsession over the past number of
years of building an impressive online artist's resource of art materials,
techiniques and so forth. He does endless tests of exposing color to light,
fading and so forth, with many links. A great deal of technical insights to
materials, methods of the past masters, chemical properties, and so forth.
He has demo's and step by step methods available. He has nearly 300 pages
registered to his own personal website and everyone should be familiar with
its availability. The only thing I'll warn is that Don has developed a
unique color system of his own to near crusade-like proportions insisting
much damage has been done by the three color primary system, and if you tell
him you are an art teacher...he'll more than likely press to ask what color
system you teach.

I always told him to look at my own work and critique it, and if I could
possibly paint better what I am seeing by switching to his system to let me
know. He never has been able to provide such. I use a split three primary
color wheel myself. That is the regular colorwheel broken into warm and
cool temperature. A warm and cool blue, warm and cool red, warm and cool
yellow. You might find his system interesting though, if nothing
else...scroll to bottom of his home page to see the mammoth sized listing of
what his site offers!
Don Jusko-

Hope this information helps!!!

Larry Seiler
my website-
short quick sample site of my work-