Today I am going to talk about my two favorite oil paint brands, Winsor & Newton Artist Oils and Gamblin Oil Colors. I will explain my reasonings of why I use these paints, and the pros and cons of each.
First, let us talk about Gamblin. Gamblin Oil Colors is hand crafted in Portland, Oregon. I have been to their warehouse and was shown how the paints are made. It as enlightening. I was really surprised that this small group of people in a relatively small warehouse makes and sell as much as they do around the world. It goes to show you that you do not need a massive operation to make a huge impact.
The people at Gamblin are friendly and extremely knowledgeable about paint, as you would expect. What I didn’t expect was they are world renowned conservationists of oil paintings. That puts them in a whole other level compared to their competitors. In my mind they are well worth every effort to buy from them, and trust that your paintings will stay true for decades to come.
Now, let us talk about Winsor & Newton. Winsor & Newton was founded by William Winsor and Henry Newton. They opened up shop in London, England in 1832. Throughout the years, Winsor & Newton created many products that revolutionized the way artists created their masterpieces.
In 1840 they had introduced glass syringes to replace pig bladders that originally held the oil paints. Two years later in 1842, they had patented the first metal screw top tube that we still use today.
Winsor & Newton are dedicated to creating the most permanent artists pigments, and had written their first pamphlet called ‘The Composition & Permanence of Artists’ Colours’ in 1892.
In 1946, they began making their own brushes in Lowestoft, UK. In 1976, they were the first artist company to launch the world’s first alkyd oil colors.
During the nearly two centuries of producing artist materials, they had moved their paint factories around England, and recently moved out of England to France. Yes. I have seen a slight drop in quality of their products recently due to that, but not so much that I would drop them all together.
The difference between Gamblin and Winsor & Newton oil paints, is that they get their artist pigments from different sources, which makes delightful variations with some of the colors.
For example, the Phthalo Blues are different. Gamblin Oil paint is made with Phthalocyanine Blue number PB15:2, this is a very deep blue, which is similar to Prussian Blue. That makes sense in the fact that Gamblin prides themselves on making historical colors. I really love this blue for my artwork. It used to be that I would have to mix The Winsor & Newton brand of Phthalo Blue is called Winsor Blue, which is Phthalocyanine Blue number PB15:3 Green Shade, and their Ultramarine Blue PB29 just to get that color.
If you have a look at this painting called Taking the Queen, above, you will notice the bright blues of Winsor & Newton. All of the black colors were created with variations of blues and browns. You can read about the story of Taking the Queen here.
I bought Gamblin’s Phthalo Blue last year in 2018. Now, if you look at a closeup of my painting above, (which the border is not complete, so I’m not showing the whole picture yet), you will see only Gamblin’s Phthalo blue being used. It is deep, rich and versatile.
In this painting of Bogart the Hummingbird, you can see the perfect balance of Gamblin and Winsor & Newton oil colors that my current palette awards me. You can view a tutorial of this painting here or you can read about the story of Bogart here.
The oil colors are highly pigmented from both manufacturers. There are some variations in terms of consistency in terms of pigments. The modern colors are creamy smooth, whereas the old world colors such as the umbers are a bit stiffer and need a touch of oil or thinner to work with them.
Regarding the consistency of the paint and the pigment loads, both Gamblin Oil Colors and Winsor & Newton Professional Oils are so similar, that sometimes I forget which brand was squeezed on the palette. It is a good thing, because you get lost in the painting, and not fighting with your paint.
Convenience. Winsor & Newton is a bit better on the convenience front. I can travel any where in the world and find Winsor & Newton something or other to create with. There are about 10 places I can go grab a tube of paint around where I live. Gamblin is more of an boutique paint. I live 45 minutes away from the factory and still have trouble finding a tube around town to create with. There is only one place in town that sells Gamblin where I live, and it is closed on Sundays.
Price. Winsor & Newton is a little more affordable than Gamblin, but seriously not by much. Some pigments are much more cost effective with Gamblin than Winsor & Newton. For example, a tube of Chromium Oxide Green PG17 price is around $11 for Gamblin, and the tube of Winsor & Newton is $18. There is no difference in quality that I had noticed.
Another boon to the Winsor & Newton Artist’s Oil Paint and Gamblin Artist Oil Colors marriage in your artist paint box, is that they do not make the same colors. You can get a Pyrrole Red PR254 (called Bright Red) in Winsor & Newton’s brand, and not from Gamblin. Similarly, you can get Spinel Black PBk28 from Gamblin, as well as Cobalt Teal PB28 and not from Winsor & Newton.
In conclusion, both Winsor & Newton and Gamblin are interchangeable, and are fantastic additions to any artist’s paintbox.
Till next time, happy painting!