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Contemporary knowledge dedicated to the making of traditional materials. Beautiful, high quality, bright paint.

 

Gamblin 1980 Oil Colors are made with the same dedication and pure pigments that go into our Artist's Oils. In addition, we use the same process of mixing, milling, filling, and hand labelling.

 

In order to reduce the cost of oil colours, some manufacturers use gels and wax to stiffen colours and replace traditional pigments with less expensive ones. Our approach is different. 1980 colours are formulated with pure pigments, the finest refined linseed oil and marble dust (calcium carbonate). More affordable colours have been made with these three ingredients since oil painting began. With 1980 colours, artists experience colours that are true, without homogenized texture or muddy colour 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 colours. The chart below lists the pigments used in our 1980 colours and their relative opacity and transparency.

 

About 1980 Oil Colors = Best Student Grade Value

True colour. Real value.

 

Gamblin 1980 Oil Colors are made with the same dedication and pure pigments that go into our Artist’s Oils. In addition, we use the same process of mixing, milling, filling, and hand labelling.

 

In order to reduce the cost of oil colours, some manufacturers use gels and wax to stiffen colours and replace traditional pigments with less expensive ones.

 

Our approach is different. 1980 colours are formulated with pure pigments, the finest refined linseed oil and marble dust (calcium carbonate). More affordable colours have been made with these three ingredients since oil painting began.

 

With 1980 colours, artists experience colours that are true, without homogenized texture or muddy colour 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 colours.

 

Old Masters’ paintings were mostly brown because earth colours were the only lightfast pigments available. Found all over the earth in various shades of brown and muted shades of red, orange, yellow and green, earth colours have been on artists’ palettes for more than 40,000 years.

 

At the special request of Nathan Olivera, Robert Gamblin formulated a contemporary version of Asphaltum that is true to its historic working properties but, unlike traditional formulations, is both lightfast and permanent. Gamblin’s version, much to Olivera’s delight, captures not only Asphaltum’s qualities but also its “earth energy.”

 

In the studios of the Old Masters, painters pushed against the limitations of their colours. Sienna and Umber are key colours in creating effects of depth like Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro or Leonardo’s sfumato with its almost imperceptible transitions from light to dark. The famous “Terra di Siena” is hydrated iron oxide from Tuscany. It contains silicates and aluminates that increase the transparency of the pigment.

 

Umber is found in sites where naturally occurring manganese dioxide combines with iron. Umbers and other pigments containing manganese make quick-drying oil colours. Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber are made by roasting earth pigments until the desired reddish colours are produced.

 

Natural earth pigments often have uneven colour and must be washed and processed into small particle sizes. This labour-intensive processing led to a demand for synthetic iron oxides that were developed as Mars colours in the late 18th century.

 

There is some discussion about why synthetic iron oxides were first produced, especially when so much pigment was then available in earth mines. The most logical explanation is commercial painters demanded consistency in colour and texture for the emerging house paint industry.

 

The British started to build homes with wood but they still wanted their houses to look like brick. Also, through the manufacturing process, shades can be changed. “Mars” was an internationally recognized word for iron.

 

A hundred years after the Masters’ great era, there was a revival in their techniques. Asphaltum was used when painters wanted to artificially age their painting to make them look like an Old Master could have painted them.

 

Organic in nature, the original Asphaltum was coal-black and crumbly. The pigment was not ground into oil but rather melted into oil and turpentine.

 

Among the few transparent earth colours, Asphaltum was used in glazing and shading. But by the end of the 18th century, painters were dissuaded from using the colour because it caused paintings to fade and deteriorate at an alarming rate.

 

Two hundred years later, painters’ interests have turned again toward the techniques of Renaissance masters. Like their predecessors, contemporary painters are pushing against the limitations of their colours.

 

Often painters ask if earth colours are less transparent today than hundreds of years ago. The answer is YES. Today’s earth pigments are more opaque because the once rich deposits in Siena, Corsica and Cyprus are nearly mined out. Today’s earth colours must be mined from various locations and mixed together to achieve consistent colours. The bulk of earth pigments are used to colour concrete for stucco and other building materials. The result is a rise in cost and a decline in transparency.

 

The late 20th century has produced the first significant change in iron oxides with the invention of transparent Mars colours for the automobile industry. These colors are made by hydrating earth colors, a process by which opaque colors are made transparent. As painters, we have come full circle. The prized transparent earth reds of antiquity have returned to our palettes.

Earth Tones (Gamblin 1980's)

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Colour
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