My last article covered my recent visit to the M. Graham & Co. factory in Hubbard, Oregon. While I was in the area, I also visited the headquarters of another paint manufacturer.
I visited the Gamblin facility about 10 years ago but wanted to visit again while I was nearby on this recent trip. And it gave me a chance to catch up with product manager Scott Gellatly who gave me the tour during my first visit and with whom I have corresponded from time to time.
Rather than producing many different types of paints and artist materials, Gamblin focuses almost exclusively on making oil paint along with the mediums, solvents, varnishes, etc. that go with it. Scott says that this gives the company a unique position in the art supply business and specific expertise in the making of oil paint.
They make a full line of professional quality Artist Grade Oils including a number of specialty colors that can’t be found elsewhere. I’m eager to continue experimenting with the colors in their Radiant line that Scott gave me to try out. They also offer a student-grade line of colors (1980 Oil Colors) which are available at lower prices.
Gamblin has worked hard to develop products with studio safety in mind and Scott is particularly proud to be able to help educate oil painters on the subject. He mentioned that oil painting can actually have less negative environmental impact compared to other media. He explained that after a painting session many watercolor or acrylic painters pour their used and polluted brush-cleaning water down the drain. However, oil painting provides a “closed system” as solvents can be easily recycled in the studio after use. (Used solvent can be poured into a separate jar and left until clean solvent separates to the top for reuse. Even the sludge that builds up at the bottom of the jar can be used for underpaintings.)
The solvent that I’ve used for years and often recommend is Gamblin’s Gamsol. It’s odorless, has a slow evaporation rate and is one of the mildest solvents available. I use it for cleaning brushes and for thinning my paint in the early stages of a painting.
Gamblin makes a great varnish too, one that was developed in partnership with the National Gallery of Art. Gamvar adds a glossy finish to oil paintings, stays water-clear and is completely removable with Gamsol. It can also be mixed with Gamblin’s Cold Wax Medium to modify the degree of gloss and even provide a matte finish.
To find out more about Gamblin and their products, visit their website which provides a wealth of information. I also recommend subscribing to their Studio Notes Newsletter for further insight into the practice of oil painting. Thanks for another great tour of the Gamblin facility, Scott!
Hi, Dan! Thanks for a great article! I found Scott’s comment about oils and a “closed system” particularly interesting. As you know, I work a lot in acrylics, but I do not pour wastewater down the drain, primarily because it might clog it. I pour it through mesh into a 5-gallon bucket. After it settles, I pour it into the flowerbed. The plants seem to love it, but just in case there is any residual plastic or medium, it is never poured on the garden, and is away from any other water source. I haven’t tried saving the sludge, because after a few days it stinks! (Further experiments may be necessary.)
Thanks for the two great articles on paint makers! I always have given them an exotic place in the paint world, it is so nice to know there are two really nice manufactures of good paint right in in Oregon! I really like their paints, and like the new radiant line from Gambllin!
Thanks for the nice post, Dan! Always a pleasure to catch up with you and your wife. You’re both welcome anytime!
Thanks for the comments, everyone!
I bought my first Gamblin paint in 1989. I was a beginner and had used Grumbracher, from the local hobby store. I got ahold of my first tube of Gamblin in the early 80’s. . . What a difference. So pure in color, so smooth to apply to a canvas. . . My painting improved from that one tube of paint. . . . Then long about 1989 i made a wistful statement to my husband that it would be wonderful to have the basic colors all in Gamblin. . . . But we were pretty poor, and I painted rarely due to working two jobs and life. I didn’t feel I could afford the time or the paint I so longed for. .For Christmas that year my husband purchased the primary colors with Gamblin. . . And a big tube of white. . .. Then life got really hard, my husband got cancer and the cost was beyond anything I can tell you. . . My husband has been gone four years now. . . And i bought a wonderful easel at a garage sale, I am snowed in this winter, am retired so have some time. . . I dug out my box of paints and brushes and sorted through them. The Grumbracher is all in the garbage, hard as a rock. . . . And the Gamblin moves within the tube so ?? I knew Portland was the place to go to get Gamblin, but so far haven’t found a place on the site to buy direct. . . I live in Oregon, so maybe I should go to the factory. . .? ? My heart aches to be able to afford some new paints. . . I have a couple of canvases, and short a palette I am so ready to go……………….wish me luck. . . I think Gamblin is the only way to paint. . . .
My best wishes to you as you get back to your love of painting, Sylvia! If you are near Portland, you should stop and visit the Gamblin factory. You’d love it. Otherwise, you can purchase Gamblin paint from many brick-and-mortar art supply stores as well as online retailers. Happy painting!