PDA

View Full Version : Robert and Martha Gamblin


Verdaccio
08-04-2001, 11:28 AM
There is a very disturbing thread (at least to me) that keeps cropping up about Gamblin products and the people who run that company.

I believe that the thread is mean spirited, venomous, sniping, unprofessional, and frankly not the type of thing I like to associate with this forum. If anyone is still wondering why we don't see Martha Gamblin at WC more often, this is likely the reason.

What is clear is that Gamblin is a very successful company producing artists products with a marketing angle that speaks to "safer products for the painter - physiologically and ecologically".

Now, regardless of whether you agree with "their" philosophy, or like or use their products, it should be possible to hold a discussion about them without venomously attacking their research, their company...and their persons...especially when Robert Gamblin does not participate in this forum and thereby cannot defend himself, his research, or his company.

Also, it has occurred to me that a large company might just possibly be able to do research at an equal or even higher level than the typical artist working out of a studio, home studio or corner of their bedroom. :eek: This is debatable, I know, but clearly, they have developed information from a lot of years of study and research - this information is geared to their company and their much broader focus of serving a marketplace. A large company like Gamblin must have a much broader focus than we do for ourselves. Hence, we sometimes find that their information doesn't "fit" into our definition of our art and how we use materials. That is why many people choose to buy paint from smaller companies.

I am not saying that we lone artists cannot learn a lot about paint and its workings - Titanium and Rob Howard are prime examples of how much information an individual can amass. But, I don't always agree with Titanium or Rob :eek:- I believe I have different information - information based on my particular way of painting - information that works better for me...

The bottom line of this rant is that we should be able to have a technical discussion of a company, and their products and services without attacking them with meanness. If you have a technical rebuttal to something they say or publish, then please express it, if you don't like their products, then say so. But do it with some reason and professionalism. The ultimate expression you can make is to vote with your wallet.

This community is based on assumed good will and helping others - threads that take personal pot shots are at odds with "our" philosophy.

Finally, this post is not aimed at any one person - I am objecting to the tone of the entire thread. As always, this is just my opinion. :)

Leopoldo1
08-04-2001, 12:06 PM
V,
I wish we would let this Gamblin thread die! Enough has been said and here we go again............ Over much time, forum members here have let their opinions come forth in their preference of pigments with much discussion and certainly with this information readily at hand we can all make better choices. Why kick a dead horse or continue to stir the pot? What do you personally want V. apologies? Gamblin is a very, very and I mean very successful company with outlets nation wide if not international and any opinions here are just that. :oL

Raffaele
08-04-2001, 01:21 PM
Originally posted by Leopoldo
What do you personally want V. apologies?

It is interesting Leopoldo that you should react that way to Michaels’s post. It is also interesting that those who are most apt to bash are avid RH followers, to the degree that they even find it necessary to re-post their comments in the "other" forum. I happen to agree with Michael and frankly am a bit tired of it all as well. I come to these forums to quietly read, take a break, look at others artwork and progress, and offer assistance occasionally. I do not ram my opinions down others throats, intentionally insult, nor bring to the forefront how gullible many are because so and so says something. Whether it is the Gamblin thread or any other one has to wonder why a select few find it so necessary to voice their opinions in such a distasteful tone. Professionals …. I think not.

Verdaccio
08-04-2001, 01:26 PM
Originally posted by Leopoldo
V,
I wish we would let this Gamblin thread die! Enough has been said and here we go again............ Over much time, forum members here have let their opinions come forth in their preference of pigments with much discussion and certainly with this information readily at hand we can all make better choices. Why kick a dead horse or continue to stir the pot? What do you personally want V. apologies? Gamblin is a very, very and I mean very successful company with outlets nation wide if not international and any opinions here are just that. :oL

But Leo, the thread doesn't die - people keep reviving it. I don't want anything - except perhaps really hot french fries :) - I didn't want to stir the controversy any more, but I thought it was time to voice a real concern over this type of very negative thread here at WC. Hopefully peeps would think a little before starting something of this sort again. There are many places on the Internet to bash people - I don't want WC to become one of them.

Titanium
08-04-2001, 04:18 PM
Topics of hot Debate on Art Forums -

Lead pigments - users - None lead users

Mineral pigments - Organics

Black - No black [ true complementaries ]

Photographs - No photographs or other .

Turpentine - Mineral Spirits

Best Paints - Worst paints

Resin -- no resin

Linen Canvas - Cotton - Polyester

Line - mass'

Reality - other

Coloured Drawings - Painting past the outline [ factor in nature ]

Different schools of thought , personalities and disciplines.
Conflict , discussion and debate , is bound to occur.

If you don't like a topic , response , or attitude , should you leave
it alone , or make it potentially worse or report it to the moderator ??????

Perhaps what you really want commercial paint makers to do
is just say what % of what is in the paint , down to milli grams .
No surprises or hidden ingredients or disguised pigments .
[ It isn't Coca- cola or is it ???? ]

Offer the solvents , pigments without the messages . Messages
are seen as clever advertising and will irritate.

Seek out a Toxicologists or other for the professional answers
and stop all of the cross fertilised information.
[ This is what I do ].
Titanium

ps. Additionally some of that Art information out there is quite dated , update yourselves .

Verdaccio
08-04-2001, 04:43 PM
Titanium: Here's to reasoned discourse without flames or attacks on anyone and total and honest disclosure of ingredients! :)

Luis Guerreiro
08-04-2001, 09:18 PM
Originally posted by Raffaele


It is interesting Leopoldo that you should react that way to Michaels’s post. It is also interesting that those who are most apt to bash are avid RH followers, to the degree that they even find it necessary to re-post their comments in the "other" forum. I happen to agree with Michael and frankly am a bit tired of it all as well. I come to these forums to quietly read, take a break, look at others artwork and progress, and offer assistance occasionally. I do not ram my opinions down others throats, intentionally insult, nor bring to the forefront how gullible many are because so and so says something. Whether it is the Gamblin thread or any other one has to wonder why a select few find it so necessary to voice their opinions in such a distasteful tone. Professionals …. I think not.
Raffaele,
So do I. I patiently come round and peacefully contribute to the on-going discussions, techniques, whatever. I thought it should be clear that my post isn't a personal attack on anyone in particular. My post is based upon recent research on Gamblin Oil Colours and I came across an interesting article, the whole thing coincided with this thread. What applies to Gamblin also applies to other manufacturers and however "ugly" some threads may be, negative reactions against art materials manufacturers only happen because they brought them on to themselves, by omitting information and comercial practices that have more to do with money, profit and less to do with the real thing, Art and those who make it happen, the Artists. I see no reason for Leo or myself apologise for inflamed posts. I am still waiting for an apology from a few manufacturers, for spending fortunes in products that did not prove effective, for information that did not turn out to be accurate nor true... the list is endless. Do you think they care to say "I am sorry that this medium turned out to be a disaster"? or "I am glad that you did not find our oil colours good enough, your input is a challenge to improve them"? NO! All the manufacturers are worried about is their own market shares and the artists can "stuff" themselves and keep spending money, feeding the manufacturers little wars. This is why they sometimes deserve a good "tell-off" for being naughty and to be reminded that they only exist as long as the artists keep buying from them. The day we all stick together and say "ENOUGH!" is the day the manufacturers can close their doors and re-think their strategies.
Case closed.

Mario
08-05-2001, 06:40 AM
Reading Titanium's post, I must admit that I am a crusader in more than one of those debate pairings, And in a few other topics that he didn't mention.
I thought Leopold's last post on the other Gamblin thread was nicely conciliatory, he even apologised.
It's no fun making combatants here on W.C. or is it? It certainly gets the juices flowing. As if we didn't have enough of that in our day to day lives.

Midwest Painter
08-05-2001, 10:02 PM
I realize that this may now be off-topic but did anyone actually have a bad experience with Gamblin products. From what I've read the Gamblins seem to take a lot of care in the design and manufacture of their products. I've never used any myself, but I'm thinking of trying a few out to see for myself.


... but, why is everybody so down on Gamblin?

Titanium
08-06-2001, 07:28 AM
MidWest Painter ,

I am presently using Gamblin's Lead White Replacement .

The tube says - Ti02 / Zn0 and alkali refined linseed oil .

It's a weird paint , but I am assured by another painter
that this is what Lead White paint feels like .
Lower covering power that I am used to , but that sense
of translucence is also new to me .

I am a hand muller of paint since 1984 , and occassionally
I will monkey around with commercial paint .

Thus far nothing negative to report , it's paint .

I think more of the fuss is about a company coming out against
Lead White and Solvents .
Not what I would call a bright idea .

As I stated before , paint companies make paint .
Industrial Toxicologists or Hygienists can speak professionally
about Health aspects.

Plus there is all of this concern about losing Lead pigments .

Which is just silly .
[1 ] I buy my pigments by the kilos , I have 50 kilos of a
manufactured type of Ti02 , put away , so I don't have to
think about who is doing what to the manufacturing process.

So , I would suggest Lead users just do the same .

BUT alas , most of these people want convenience and
will never do as above.

Plus , when the actual factory workers begin to feel uncomfortable
and prefer not to be around the Lead ------ why should they
have to ???

Lead is not a metal that can be just thrown in the dustbin .
In landfills it will contaminate , as will batteries and other
products that use lead .

If you want to use Lead Pigments , you have to be willing
to go further with disposal .

[2 ] Having spoken to a member of the ASTM , I have
been assured that there is no move to remove Lead
pigments .

However , firms can prefer not to market the pigments.
Worker issues again - low wages - exposure - general
individual feelings about being around Lead .

Lastly , there is the permanence factor .

Lead White is the only White with all those excellent
qualities .

Seriously though , if you don't really believe in archival
permanence or all that craft stuff , why use Lead pigments.
It takes over 50 years for oil paintings , when done
properly , layers or alla prima to crack and show their
age.

Most start at 20 to paint and assuming the work is
good , at 70 ish will see ageing on their paintings .

There are many mixed signals being given off .

It is either you want archival and do the craft properly
or not at all .
You would probably be in the high end range of oil
paints - Old Holland and along those lines , or with
Doak or mulling for yourself .

You wouldn't use Gamblin or W and N or Utrecht.

Now we are right back to where we started .
Titanium

* Then there is the Organics versus Mineral pigments.

I suggest you use what your educated to be comfortable
with .

Some painting techniques handle stiff paints well ,
others handle low pigment/high filler charges better.
It is going to come down to that sense of craft and
archival thingee again .

You don't like a product , return it or don't buy it .
This ranting and raving says more about the
purchaser , than the company .

Want to get rid of a company , collectively stop buying
their products.

frankcote
08-06-2001, 05:12 PM
Thank you Verdaccio,
Let me cast one more vote for the peace makers. I like to hear anyone's opinion but not the ranting.
It all sounds so immature.
Besides I have used Gamblin paint and I liked it. I also wanted to hear more from the Gamblin's themselves but I don't blame them for bailing out of that thread.

Frank

Scott Methvin
08-09-2001, 11:13 AM
I for one, enjoyed all aspects of the Gamblin threads. Luis and Leo have enough passion and knowlege to ask the hard questions. They weren't answered were they? Why not?

The political correctness that has infected our society in the last few decades has finally made it to all areas. The manufacturers of artist materials seem to have fallen into the same wishy washy lock step. Will Old Holland start using the same ad agency as the Benneton sweater people? I hope not.

We who understand materials and generally make our own can't help but laugh at some of the "priorities" in the ad copy. It's no different than laughing at the ultra high tech toothbrushes and the 3 bladed speed of sound razors.

It ain't the steak -it's the sizzle that sells.

martha gamblin
08-09-2001, 04:11 PM
Hello ... once a week I do check in ... but seeing my name on the sidebar does provoke a response. How do you, Doug, know the difference between artists' grade, student grade and economy grades of paint? After a wonderful evening, Theo De Beers
(god rest his soul -- he owned Old Holland. He died last month) was bragging about the load of cadmium pigments in his paint. Having had many fewer drinks than he, I did the math: same load as ours. But Old Holland has a different viscosity. How do you measure the pigment load of paint? Can you tell the difference between paint loaded with colored pigment and inerts? Can you tell if a tint has been boosted?
I am flattered to think a running thread opinion is that we are a large company. Gamblin Artists Colors are made in batches of five gallons or less in a warehouse on the edge of the pacific rim. We have our own ideas,write our own copy. One of our previous production workers helped me make the web page. ... And I don't see a lot of other manufacturers willing to play with you here ... and yes, often times, I have no idea why we are a target other than we are willing to speak out on issues of environmental and personal health. I don't know any other manufacturers who were living in their warehouse, raising a kid, around pigment dust and solvents. Health and safey of my family and the workers here is very important to me. Yours is your choice. I have had some interesting emails from some of you. Robert travels and lectures extensively -- always surrounded by artists, while I run the factory. I turn to these forums for the same reasons you do. It can sometimes be fun. And sometimes you hurt my feelings. But I do value dialogue. Every day I see the paint artists' use. I see James Rosenquist's custom colors run across the mill and I know some part of what we do here every day will be in the world in 500 years. Whether you recognize it or not, we finest quality artists' grade paint. And I am proud of my work. Robert and I and many of our workers are consumers of artists' materials as well as makers. So you don't respect us because we don't take the big profits the Europeans do? They know we stupid Americas think it must be better if it costs more. Best, Martha

Luis Guerreiro
08-09-2001, 04:29 PM
Originally posted by Scott Methvin
I for one, enjoyed all aspects of the Gamblin threads. Luis and Leo have enough passion and knowlege to ask the hard questions. They weren't answered were they? Why not?

The political correctness that has infected our society in the last few decades has finally made it to all areas. The manufacturers of artist materials seem to have fallen into the same wishy washy lock step. Will Old Holland start using the same ad agency as the Benneton sweater people? I hope not.

We who understand materials and generally make our own can't help but laugh at some of the "priorities" in the ad copy. It's no different than laughing at the ultra high tech toothbrushes and the 3 bladed speed of sound razors.

It ain't the steak -it's the sizzle that sells.

Thanks Scott. It was never meant to be personal, but a serious array of questions based on obvious contradictions found on the document. I don't want to get back to it now though.

Luis Guerreiro
08-09-2001, 04:58 PM
Originally posted by martha gamblin
Hello ... once a week I do check in ... but seeing my name on the sidebar does provoke a response. How do you, Doug, know the difference between artists' grade, student grade and economy grades of paint? After a wonderful evening, Theo De Beers
(god rest his soul -- he owned Old Holland. He died last month) was bragging about the load of cadmium pigments in his paint. Having had many fewer drinks than he, I did the math: same load as ours. But Old Holland has a different viscosity. How do you measure the pigment load of paint? Can you tell the difference between paint loaded with colored pigment and inerts? Can you tell if a tint has been boosted?
I am flattered to think a running thread opinion is that we are a large company. Gamblin Artists Colors are made in batches of five gallons or less in a warehouse on the edge of the pacific rim. We have our own ideas,write our own copy. One of our previous production workers helped me make the web page. ... And I don't see a lot of other manufacturers willing to play with you here ... and yes, often times, I have no idea why we are a target other than we are willing to speak out on issues of environmental and personal health. I don't know any other manufacturers who were living in their warehouse, raising a kid, around pigment dust and solvents. Health and safey of my family and the workers here is very important to me. Yours is your choice. I have had some interesting emails from some of you. Robert travels and lectures extensively -- always surrounded by artists, while I run the factory. I turn to these forums for the same reasons you do. It can sometimes be fun. And sometimes you hurt my feelings. But I do value dialogue. Every day I see the paint artists' use. I see James Rosenquist's custom colors run across the mill and I know some part of what we do here every day will be in the world in 500 years. Whether you recognize it or not, we finest quality artists' grade paint. And I am proud of my work. Robert and I and many of our workers are consumers of artists' materials as well as makers. So you don't respect us because we don't take the big profits the Europeans do? They know we stupid Americas think it must be better if it costs more. Best, Martha

Martha,
Firstly I would like to point out that there is no reason to feel hurt by my thread or anybody elses, for that matter. Personally I am not here to attack anyone personally, quite simply because I am a decent and honest man and it is not in my nature to do such thing. But it would be nice to have our questions answered, and after so much prose all the questions are still in the open, waiting for an answer. A point I also would like to make is that I don't play here. I discuss oil painting and other issues that matter for oil painting. Now there is no point in waiving the flag of environment because Gamblin is not the only one to worry about it. We all are, but I am within reason. And lead white is irreplaceable in oil painting, because its handling qualities and application are unique. I know you know this, whatever you may say, you know it, whether you will admit this is a different matter. I am the first one to stand for absolute safety and on occasions I stood up against the practice of grinding lead pigment at home or in the studio, because of serious health risks, so I recommend that painters use tube lead white. And of course, to dispose safely of rags, turps, etc in a safe and responsible way, etc... The same applies to other pigments. Let's not be maniac about the environment. We all cross roads full of buses releasing fumes from burning Diesel, fumes are full of dioxins, which are highly carcinogenic, food additives in prepared meals, chemicals in our carpets, fabrics, Christ! You name it. Does anyone bother about all of this? In real terms, the environment risks of oil painting are pathetically small, compared with the rest of it all. The world is going down the drain, courtesy of all the other evils and I wish that the only environment evil around was oil painting. The world would look better. A lot of the Old Masters died of very old age. Do you have any doubts that they took far greater risks than us all put together?
And finally a little note to ask who said that we do not respect you and your work? I didn't. I just don't agree with Gamblins view as stated in documentation, posts, tests, etc. The comment on the Europeans way of thinking that Americans are stupid if they think that if it costs more it's better is far from being true. I am European and I don't think that at all, in fact I work with a lot of Americans who live in London and it is a great experience, we have great fun together. The fact that I take time to discuss oil painting issues with a vast majority of Americans proves my point I hope.
I am hoping you will read my post and understand what I am all about. Now, please can we have an answer on our previous questions?;)
Cheers.
Luis

Midwest Painter
08-09-2001, 06:20 PM
Originally posted by martha gamblin
Hello ... once a week I do check in ... but seeing my name on the sidebar does provoke a response. How do you, Doug, know the difference between artists' grade, student grade and economy grades of paint? After a wonderful evening, Theo De Beers
(god rest his soul -- he owned Old Holland. He died last month) was bragging about the load of cadmium pigments in his paint. Having had many fewer drinks than he, I did the math: same load as ours. But Old Holland has a different viscosity. How do you measure the pigment load of paint? Can you tell the difference between paint loaded with colored pigment and inerts? Can you tell if a tint has been boosted?
I am flattered to think a running thread opinion is that we are a large company. Gamblin Artists Colors are made in batches of five gallons or less in a warehouse on the edge of the pacific rim. We have our own ideas,write our own copy. One of our previous production workers helped me make the web page. ... And I don't see a lot of other manufacturers willing to play with you here ... and yes, often times, I have no idea why we are a target other than we are willing to speak out on issues of environmental and personal health. I don't know any other manufacturers who were living in their warehouse, raising a kid, around pigment dust and solvents. Health and safey of my family and the workers here is very important to me. Yours is your choice. I have had some interesting emails from some of you. Robert travels and lectures extensively -- always surrounded by artists, while I run the factory. I turn to these forums for the same reasons you do. It can sometimes be fun. And sometimes you hurt my feelings. But I do value dialogue. Every day I see the paint artists' use. I see James Rosenquist's custom colors run across the mill and I know some part of what we do here every day will be in the world in 500 years. Whether you recognize it or not, we finest quality artists' grade paint. And I am proud of my work. Robert and I and many of our workers are consumers of artists' materials as well as makers. So you don't respect us because we don't take the big profits the Europeans do? They know we stupid Americas think it must be better if it costs more. Best, Martha


Dear Martha,

More power to you and your company. As you must know, you can't satisfy all the people. The most important truism is to satisfy yourself. Your concern for the health of your customers and employees is admirable. You are ahead of the curve in an industry that far too shackled by tradition. Keep up the good work and keep on posting!

martha gamblin
08-10-2001, 03:17 PM
Hello ... Thanks for the good words. Making finest quality artists' materials is very personal so I appreciate your support.
Otherwise, what are you quesions? After making oil painting materials for 15 years, if I don't have answers, I have confidence that I can refer you to some one who has answers. Best, Martha

Titanium
08-10-2001, 03:29 PM
Hello Mrs.Martha Gamblin ,

I am presently using your Lead Replacement White .
It is weird [ I have never used Lead White ] , and I
am told that this is what Lead White feels like .
It works as paint .
I am satisfied.

We are a rowdy bunch at times and may play too
rough . Just jump right in and blacken a few eyes.

I would rather have your around , for then we can
talk about what's in the paint and why .
Titanium

lcg
08-10-2001, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by martha gamblin
How do you measure the pigment load of paint? Can you tell the difference between paint loaded with colored pigment and inerts? Can you tell if a tint has been boosted?

Actually, there is a test for this. It's called "draw-down".
Place a small dollop of paint on a white sheet of paper and with a scraper or putty knife, drag it down to apply a thin layer of paint. Test different paints side by side. Load of pigment and overtones become VERY apparent.

martha gamblin
08-14-2001, 07:53 PM
Let us use "under bound" instead of over pigmented. Are contemporary manufactured artists' oil colors under bound? The answer is yes, especially the mineral colors. New research at the Smithsonian demonstrates this. (The research has not yet been published. When the scientist publishes his research, we will send you a link.) Nevertheless, the principles are easy to understand.

A paint layer has two basic components: binder and pigment. The degree of brittleness or flexibility comes solely from the binder. If there is too little binder, the paint layers become very brittle very fast upon drying. As the binder increases, the degree of brittleness decreases. If you get too much binder, you get problems on the other side. The oil never properly dries and stays tacky for many years.

We have done flexibility tests ourselves on paints and we have seen that many colors right out of the tube crack with very little flexing. With more binder added, the paint film can be tied in a loose knot.

This is why we also make a wide range of mediums. All painting mediums are FAT. Use less medium and more solvent in the under layers, more medium and less solvent in the top layers.

Regarding the question about draw downs:

Draw downs do not reveal a pigment load. Draw downs are excellent tools to learn about opacity and transparency.

1. Draw a black stripe on while (shiny) card stock so you can also see the transparency of the film.

2. If the paints do not have the same viscosity, add oil until both paints feel about the same.

3. Put equal measure of the two samples on the SAME wide palette knife, draw down with even pressure over the black stripe.

4. The more transparent a color, the more you can see the black stripe.

5. Because economy grade paints are very transparent, you can use as quality standard for these colors but not for artists colors.

Quality standards we use in the factory are: grind, draw down, viscosity for every batch.

Good to hear you are enjoying Flake White Replacement ... Best, Martha

martha gamblin
08-15-2001, 03:07 PM
You are trying to make a draw down do more than it can ...
opacity/transparency and color matching. Draw downs tell you the difference between grade of paint. But objectively all artists' grade colors are equal. (that I hope answers your question about my opinion of Old Holland and the other fine brands of artists' grade paints available on the market today.) Subjectively, painters have preferences, usually viscosity is the first.

I am the manufacturing partner. I make paint. I do and review draw downs of daily batches as well as the other quality standards we use. Robert does formulation, R & D, conservation studies, consulting and lecturing.

Last night I asked him to review this thread and write a comment or two. But I am going to post it as a new thread.

Best, Martha

P.s. We use professional draw down cards (shiny heavy card stock with three distinct black patterns) so we don't loose any oil into the paper. We keep them as references so glass would not work for us.