Gamblin FastMatte

Gamblin FastMatte

Contrary to popular belief, Gamblin FastMatte doesn’t smell like chemicals. It smells like traditional oil colors. Gamblin advertises it as an alkyd oil color that dries within 24 hours. This is such a boon if you want to use a color like Dioxazine Purple that usually dries in seven days. 

These colors are completely intermixable with the traditional oils. Which, there are a few that dry naturally within two days, and you can add the very slow drying colors with the FastMatte colors to your palette to speed up the drying. I think I’m in love.

Gamblin suggests that you use Gamsol and Galkyd mixed 50/50 to thin the FastMatte colors, however, they only provide you with Solvent-Free Gel medium in the set. I use the Gamblin Solvent-Free fluid medium, which is the same product in an oil like consistency. So, if the set comes with that product, then that is what I’m going to use. Sorry, I just don’t like Gamsol or any solvent really.  The Solvent Free mediums are basically alkyd resin and safflower oil. In other words, it is a highly polymerized oil that helps dry the paint faster. It is non-toxic.

All in all what an alkyd oil color is, is an oil paint with the drying medium included. Fantastic! The pigment content is the same as in the traditional oils.

Now, in reality, almost everything I said above is moot. I have a tube of Gamblin FastMatte Earth Red. I finished at noon on October 4, 2019, upon checking the next day at 2 p.m. (26 hours later) it was still wet as the moment I placed it out on the palette. As a matter of fact, the paint on the palette is still wet. Soooo, either I got a bad batch, or it really doesn’t dry in 24 hours. OK, so this is the 6th, and it is still wet, like comes off on my finger barely touching it, wet. I cry!

With traditional oil paints, PR101 (transparent red earth) would be wet as well a few days later, but it would show some evidence of drying. It is now about 3 p.m., and there is little evidence that is going to dry today, at all!

Gamblin FastMatte on the left, traditional oil colors on the right. Guess which dried faster? You may be surprised.

Now, if you look at my paint book, that dolphin painting was completed on October 3, 2019, it completely dry to the scrubbing touch by the morning of October 5, 2019. Two days, full color and two layers. I’ll show you how that works in a minute. Let’s continue with the Gamblin FastMatte.

Gamblin FastMatte looks, works and squeezes out just like regular oil colors. There is no odor either. I know some manufacturers add petroleum to make them dry faster. Gamblin does not. In a email correspondence with Gamblin, they explained exactly what was in Gamblin FastMatte.

From Mary, goddess of Gamblin knowledge:

Our FastMatte line is made from the same high quality ingredients that go into our Artist Grade Oils. When using these colors, you are still working with archival materials that are approved by artwork conservation communities, museums and the like. We have thoroughly tested our materials and raw ingredients for permanency and longevity.

FastMatte colors are bound with Refined Linseed Oil and Oil Modified Alkyd Resin. Alkyd resin is simply another type of oil. Alkyd resin is heat polymerized oil.  Polymerization is merely the linking up of individual molecules in chains.  Alkyd is called a resin because its primary drying mechanism is solvent evaporation (like a resin), rather than oxidation (like an oil). 

Alkyd resins are made from a number of oils.  The soy oil based alkyds are the ones primarily used in artists materials since they have all the excellent properties of alkyd and maintain their color, even better than linseed oil.

The question is, does alkyd oil colors classify as oil colors, or is it its own medium? According to Gamblin, who is highly respected among the Smithsonian and serves as their conserver of oil colors, alkyd oil colors are just as archival as traditional oil paint. Furthermore, those who utilize alkyd oil colors are still considered oil painters. That is a huge bonus, because talking to the general public, particularly art enthusiasts who are potential collectors about anything regarding art materials equals another five minutes of explanation. I’ve never met one art collector who says boo to oil paints.

At this point it is the night of the third day since preliminary drawing of dolphin on the left of page, and it is still wet.

Either the batch is off, and they are inconsistent, or, it is just slow drying, or I’m just confused. I contacted Gamblin again, this time asking about the drying times of Gamblin FastMatte. Saint Mary of Gamblin writes:

What you are experiencing is normal for Transparent Earth Red. This is a hydrated iron oxide color, which has a slower than average dry time compared to natural iron oxide color.  

A snippet of regarding the promise of 24-hour Dry Time of their FastMatte Alkyd Oil Colors. You can find the FastMatte page here:

So basically, FastMatte is actually SlowMatte, at least in this particular color. Traditional oil paints have been around for 600 years, they have been experimented with through out the ages with different mediums, and I applaud Gamblin for trying. With that said, I find FastMatte disappointing, and Gamblin’s promised 24-hour FastMatte is guilty of false advertising, in my book.

As previously mentioned, I use traditional oil colors that dry within two days of painting. How I do this is extremely simple, and non-toxic. I choose the paints that dry naturally within three days, and a drop Gamblin’s Solvent-free Fluid Medium, which speeds up the drying time.

The colors I used in the full-color dolphin painting above were Burnt Umber, Phthalo Blue and Titanium White. The burnt umber was the base color, yes, this was a little wet when I began the next layer, but I did it on the same day, because, I just really wanted to paint, it is my sketchbook, so who cares?

Anawanitia’s current set up, it seriously changes like fashion.

The colors I use that dry three days or less are:
Titanium-Zinc White PW6+PW4
Hansa Yellow Medium PY74
Phthalocyanine Blue PB15:2 (looks like Prussian)
Ultramarine Violet PV15
Pyrrole Red PR254
Burnt Umber PBr7

On occasion, I will add these colors:
Yellow Ochre PY42
Venetian Red PR101
Manganese Violet PV16
Emerald Green PG36
Mars Black PBk11

Anawanitia’s oil painting sketchbook

And today, October 8, 2019, four days after drawing a very thin preliminary sketch using Gamblin FastMatte, it finally dried, and I am able to close my sketchbook, and this post.

Until next time, happy painting!