Gamblin Glenn Brill workshops & lecture

Thank you to all that came to our Gamblin Lecture and workshops, presented by artist and Gamblin Education Manager Glenn Brill. Here is just some of what we learnt.1


Glenn demonstrating the difference between traditional and modern pigments. Cadmium red medium is dulled with the addition of titanium white, where the modern napthol red is very vibrant. 

If you have been frustrated when mixing colours, for example you can’t make a hot pink with your red and white, it is probably because you have a traditional pigment, try using modern pigments for more vibrant colour mixing. The clue is in the name. Anything that sounds like a chemical ie phthalo, quinacridone, napthol etc will be modern. Don’t blame your mixing skills!


Here are examples of traditional pigments verses modern pigments. The old masters painted only in what was available, e.g. yellow ochre, raw umber, venetian red, ultramarine etc. The colours are more neutral. By the time the Impressionists were around colour technology had got much better with a wider and brighter range of colours; cadmiums, alizarin crimson, viridian etc. Today we have a vast collection of colours with the help of science we can achieve bright and vibrant colours the Old Masters could only dream about. Hansa yellow, napthol red, phthalo blue etc


Glenn explains the colour wheel and how limiting your palette will limit the vibrancy of the colour you mix. Ideally having a warm and cool version of yellow, orange, red, violet, blue and green will allow you to achieve the best intensity mixing colour. If you stick with just the primary colours which is often what you are taught at art school you can only achieve more muted colours when mixing. In comparison the painting with fewer colours will look murkier3a

Glenn explaining how to approach mixing colour. He advises it will help if you start with the white. Try to imagine what percentage of white is in the colour you are trying to achieve, then slowly add the main pigments. More often than not you will need to mute the colour down to look more realistic. Try using a colour from the opposite side of the colour spectrum before you use black! 

Muting a colour with a cool or warm white can vastly change the painting, demonstrated above. Gamblin have a selection of warm and cool greys and whites to help quicken the mixing process.

Here is another example of colours Gamblin have designed to aid mixing.


On to mediums! Glenn went through each of the mediums in the Gamblin range. Starting with Gamsol – An odourless and nontoxic mineral spirit. Very safe to use in the studio and reusable.

If you are looking to create glazing techniques or impasto textures Gamblin has it all. Galkyd is fast drying and self-levelling – great for the ‘Oiling out technique’ (will explain later in the album) it is quitethick and sticky but can achieve an enamel like finish. Galkyd Lite flows better than Galkyd which is probably the best one to try first when experimenting. It retains brush stroke definition and is fast drying. Galkyd Slow Dry is similar to Galkyd Lite but dries slower, which might work better with your style of painting. Galkyd Lite and Slow loosens the paint making it easier to be more expressive. All three are transparent and dries with a gloss sheen.

For impasto work Galkyd Gel will extend the colour and give body to the paint. It dries fast too. If you are worried about solvent content try Solvent Free Gel instead, this is made with oil so will try slower. Neo Megilp is a contemporary version of Maroger medium, it gives a silky feel to the paint with a satin gloss finish when dry. Neo Megilp like Solvent Free Gel will dry slower so workable for longer. Cold Wax Medium is pure white bees wax, used to thicken paint and has a matte finish. Add this to reduce the sheen in the other mediums and Gamvar picture varnish.



8Gamblin Fast Matte oil colours contains an alkyd medium, this allows fast drying underpainting and dries with a matter finish. The pigment quality is exactly the same as the Gamblins Artist Oils!



‘Oiling out’ is a brilliant method for a number of reasons. Mix 1 part Gamsol and 1 part Galkyd together (make sure is it Galkyd medium)

To ‘oil out’ brush your mixture onto surface and let it sit, then with a dry cotton cloth wipe in. This creates a thin layer of medium to be used in any of the following ways;

1) Sealing wood/canvas – acts as clear primer. Ready to paint on if you want to see texture/colour of the substrate under painting. 
2) Reactivates an old painting – acts like a retouching varnish. The oil out process allows the surface to be suitable to work back in to. Without oiling out the painting might have cured leaving the surface less likely to stick to the new application of paint in the long run.
3) Levels the sheen of a painting where there is a mixture of gloss and matt on the surface. You may find this distracting and the ‘oiling oil’ method will help with this.
4) Apply to your dry painting before vanishing with Gamvar. Test it is dry by pressing your nail into the thickest painted area, if it is hard it is ready. (try to be gentle!) The surface will be more even and the varnish will not be absorbed in to the paint.

11Varnishing with ‘Oiling oil’


Gamvar varnish can be removed easily with Gamsol. Picture varnish can get dirty in time, being able to remove the varnish allows you apply the varnish again.

Derwent Inktense printing set experiment

Inktense printmaking set box

We had to try the set out as we haven’t used anything like this before. Similar to using quickprint and a biro, but the foam is far more durable. The ink blocks make the printing experience much more clean!

Inktense printmaking set 1

Here are the contents of the set. Foam, needle with 2 different sized tips, water spritzer, roller and Inktense blocks.

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We just drew a design free hand to test it out. When using the ball point needle you need to press into the foam quite hard and repetitively, but you get the hang of it. It means a light touch wont effect the print so there will be less mistakes. You can also faintly mark out the next part of the design which is good.


We cut out the design from the foam which was extremely easy!


Lightly spray the surface with water using this fine mister.


The inktense blocks are then applied over the surface. The pigment comes away very easy, and you can apply as much or as little as you like. You use lots of colours at once, layering to mix.


Roller the back of the design on to paper…

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and here you go, our first attempt! You can re-wet the foam to release more ink. We kept adding colour afterwards and rewetting. We learnt don’t be shy with the blocks and bold designs will work the best. Altogether quite a fun set, brilliant as a gift for budding printmakers!

Princeton Catalyst Polytip brushes

Catalyst Polytip Brushes

Catalyst_Brushes_feature catalyst_brushes

You may have noticed Princetons’ Catalyst Blades and Wedges have recently arrived on the scene, but Princeton have brought out Catalyst Polytip Brushes out as well! A little more understated than its colourful counterparts but just as brilliant to use. Once you try these brushes you may never go back.

We had a play with them in our shop and found they really did live up to their claim- ‘Super stiff yet extremely responsive… Catalyst is able to hold a higher volume of paint while providing a smoother application.’

We decided to test the brushes with heavy bodied acrylic paint, and painted onto Fabriano Pittura a textured thick paper which holds the paints well, letting it sit on top as opposed to sinking in. We found the brush had the right balance of stiffness and give. It is designed to cope well with thick paint and mediums, so you can use oil paints too.

The synthetic bristles are designed with splits at the end to emulate natural bristles. The paint brush moves with ease across the paper or canvas yet keeping its form. You can see in the photograph how it holds its shape when painting long marks.

The range includes 8 different shape brushes and in many sizes. Just look above to see the variety. We were impressed by how well the brushes cleaned up, too. The ferrule didn’t hold the paint like many brushes do and the water ran clear after a short rinse. Look after these brushes and they should last a very long time.

Customers in our Hove Art shop have said they are a brilliant product and they won’t go back to ordinary brushes. It is a superior brush to many. We are very proud to be stocking Catalyst Polytip Bristle Brushes and we would really like for you try them out.

Lawrence linseed oil based relief ink

Lawrence linseed oil based relief ink

Our linseed oil relief inks are one of our most popular ranges; the formulas used to create them have been in use for hundreds of years.

Technical facts: They dry through absorption into the paper and by exposure to air. Fighting fire with fire, you will need to use white spirit to clean these up, or if you prefer the less toxic approach, try getting the vegetable oil out of the cupboard. You can also use these inks on fabric and iron-fix them on the back to set your print. Suitable for printing lino, wood cut, wood engraving and monotypes.

Discovery time: Printing inks were invented around the 15th Century and are credited to a Johannes Gutenberg (inventor of the printing press). Johannes Gutenberg seems like an interesting character- he was involved in financial misdemeanors and was even sued (yes suing existing in the 15th Century if you can believe it!). Check him out on Wikipedia.

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Woodcut printing

woodcut2Woodcut print

Basswood is designed to replicate the wood traditionally used for Japanese wood cuts. A layer of Basswood is pressed to both sides of the block, making it cost effective and easy to use.  We had a go in the warehouse recently, see above for the finished print.

We made a start by painting the surface of the Basswood block with indian ink and waiting for it to dry thoroughly, so that we could see the cuts we make. We cut the design using our ultra sharp Japanese woodcut tools. They are the ideal set to get started.

As the design is a moonlit river, we thought it would be nice to use 2 colours for inking up. Lawrence original linseed relief mid blue for the sky and black for the foliage. We printed on Masa White Japanese paper (shiny side up) with a traditional baren.