Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Alkyd Oil Paint Brand Observations

I had promised to let you know what I thought of the different alkyd oil paint brands that I bought about a week ago and this is the post for that.  I don't want to call this a review of the various brands because I haven't tried every color in every brand and I know there's often a difference in paint handling characteristics among colors of even the same brand.  Instead, I'll just give you my observations about the paint I've actually tried.

 I bought four tubes of the DaVinci alkyd paints and all of them ooze a clear liquid every time they're used.  I'm guessing this is the binder they use and it comes out even if I knead the paint tube prior to opening.  Otherwise, they're an ok paint.  I tend to like a softer, more fluid paint and these seem noticeably softer than the other brands.  This is not something that bothers me a lot but may be a game changer for some who like a firmer paint.  However, the clear stuff coming out with every use so far does annoy me somewhat.

On the other hand, I was disappointed in the C.A.S. AlkydPro paint that I bought.  It's advertised to be American made with high pigment loads and I was excited to try it.  As far as the actual paint goes, it's great.  The consistency is good, at least with this one tube (& I only bought one tube) and it handles well for me.

My disappointment lies in the difference in color between the color charts I saw online and the actual color of the paint.  The following photo is from the C.A.S. pdf color chart but all the online art supply sites showed samples of similar color:

What I received is shown below.  I don't know how it will show up on your monitor but the color I received is a sort of tan with a slight greenish cast to it.  It was also quite a bit darker than the online color charts showed. 
I don't paint portraits often but had hoped to try some using this color as a starting point for flesh.  And, in the color charts, it also seemed like the perfect color for some animals.  I don't know whether I'll ever use this particular color - it may be good for landscape painting but since I don't do many of those, it may just languish in my paint box.

As I said, it's not the paint itself but the color that doesn't really work for me.  I know all the art supply companies say to ask for an actual sample if you need a certain color because the online samples may not be accurate.  Even though I didn't exactly need this particular color as shown, I would say that's very good advice!

I had purchased a small set of the Gamblin alkyd paints some time ago and really like them.  I would definitely purchase the Gamblin brand again.

The only other brand I got in this last order was one tube of Winsor and Newton alkyd paint but I have some very small sample tubes that I got from an art store opening years ago and had just never tried until recently.

To be honest, I was all set to dislike the W&N brand because I don't feel they care about quality as much as they used to.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I used the little samples for the first time.  I like the way the paint handles and it dries as quickly as the other brands.  I haven't done any research into the lightfastness or other archival properties of the different colors so I only purchased one tube;  Winsor Red to replace the one in my sample set.  I really like this vibrant color and the way it handles.  As far as I can tell, this red is about as lightfast as any other red but W&N isn't exactly forthcoming about the pigments they use or the proportion of pigment to fillers.  That is why I don't normally buy W&N products - it's just too hard to research their longevity and quality and forgive me but I refuse take the company's word for their lightfastness.

So, I'll definitely continue to buy Gamblin and C.A.S. alkyd paints but will skip DaVinci and W&N unless I have to have a color that the other brands don't have.  I wasn't really comparing price when I placed my last order but C.A.S. and DaVinci seem to offer the best value.  However, much of the paint was on sale when I ordered it and if I continue to catch sales, it's very possible that any of the brands could be a very good deal at a given time.

Those are the brands I've purchased and used.  None of the paint companies gave me any kind of monetary reward for a favorable review and I'm sure that none of them even know know me from Adam's house cat!  I'm adding that disclaimer to let you know that this is all just my honest opinion of these brands and nothing was said out of coercion of any kind!

I might add that I think alkyds offer the perfect alternatives to both acrylics and oils.  I find that acrylics dry much too fast for me and regular or water soluble oils dry too slowly.  Alkyds are touch dry in about 24 hours if they aren't applied too thickly and, as a rule of thumb, find they are touch dry 2 to 4 days quicker than oils of the same thickness.  If you've been on the fence about trying them, I think you should give them a chance.

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