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View Full Version : Completely lost as to what to buy!


LapelPin
09-15-2010, 08:38 PM
Greetings all,

As you probably will notice, I am brand-new to this community and I apologize in advance if I have already made a mistake with posting!

I am a portrait artist looking to buy professional quality, water soluble oil paints, but I am having trouble deciding.

I bought some Windsor and Newton colours to 'test drive' the medium, and while I enjoyed it I did not enjoy W&N- I have never been fond of that brand.

Now, I try to restrict myself from buying supplies that are not made in the USA or are distributed by very large companies. I've read about Holbein's paint, but it's such a large company I worry about product quality loss.

So, I guess I'm asking for advice on what to buy! I paint hyper-realism portraits; I prefer a "faster" drying time, but heavens, no where near fast like acrylics and such. I'm just a bit impatient. ;) I like companies with a good, solid, reputable history and companies who also take pride in their company history.


So any advice on which company to buy from? Again, I paint mostly people, I paint on Hardbord/Masonite and...I like very good, trust-worthy companies.


(Again, sorry if I have made any mistakes! It's daunting with the first post!)

Crystal1
09-15-2010, 10:12 PM
I, too, did not like Winsor Newton in regular oils and I especially don't like them in WMOs and they are not even artist quality. Of course, they were one of the first WMOs available, so we should appreciate that they at least put them out there. There seems to be a difference in the WMOs that came out in the last few years. The paints aren't as sticky and work better with their mediums. I have to say the the Holbein Aqua DUOs are the most expensive WMOs, and definitely are artist quality. My favorite are the new Royal Talens Cobra WMOs. They are more loose and liquid than Holbien or Winsor Newtons, and are also a professional grade. They mix well with water and their mediums and their price is comparable to Winsor Newton's Artisan WMOs. The Cobras seem to dry more quickly than the other WMOs and have a good degree of pigmentation. I used to use the Royal Talens Rembrandt oils before I switched over to WMOs, and was extremely happy with them. Their customer service reps keep track of what is going on in this and other WMO forums and is eager to make sure that their quality is good and customers are happy. The only negative thing I can say about the Cobra WMOs it that their tubes are very thin metal, and can get pin-hole openings in them. I had that happen to one of my Rembrandt tubes about 8-9 years ago. My teacher recommended that I seal it well with duct tape, and the tube of paint is still working fine.

What ever you decide to try next, I would just buy a few tubes and try them out before you invest in a whole set. Otherwise you might end up like me, with about 16 tubes of Artisan that I'm planning to use on practice paintings only.

Good luck!

DAK723
09-16-2010, 12:03 AM
It's always a good idea to try a couple tubes of the brands you are interested in - as each company makes their paints a little differently. Some are stiffer, some oilier and smoother. The general consensus is that the artist grade water mixable paints are the Holbein Aqua Duos, Grumbacher Max, and the new Cobra line by Talens. So, unlike traditional paints which are often made by small companies or one-person operations, these are all big companies!

Good luck with whatever brand (or brands) you choose!

Don

LapelPin
09-17-2010, 10:58 AM
Thank you for the replies!

I am looking at the Cobras as the brand of choice; I've done a lot of research and those seem to meet what I'm most interested in, plus they have a very detailed company history and that's what I like to see; pride of ownership! Holbein's page about their company says little to nothing, and that's a red flag for me for some reason. I like knowing the company that's behind my paint.


I think I may buy Cobras five-pack starter (or ten-pack) and gives those a try.

Thanks again! Cheers!

paintmechanic
09-17-2010, 08:04 PM
You really need to try the Holbeins, not judge their company commitment based on a web page. The paint speaks for itself. I ordered some Cobra paint to compare with the Holbein, and frankly, it doesn't compare very well. The texture and consistency of the Cobra paint is all over the map, and the pigment strength is not as good as Holbein. If you paint with thin layers to get your hyper-realism, you'll appreciate the pigment concentration in Holbein. I've used at least 25 different colors from their line and there has never once been inconsistent quality or strength. It's the most consistent paint I have ever used, in any brand line. Cobra has a ways to go to become reliable, I was very disappointed with it. But they do have an awesome website. Just goes to show you. That's all marketing, not pride of ownership. Real pride shows in the consistent quality of the product they make.

paintmechanic
09-17-2010, 08:17 PM
... Royal Talens [...] customer service reps keep track of what is going on in this and other WMO forums and is eager to make sure that their quality is good and customers are happy...

I hope that's true. They can feel free to contact me if they'd like more details on the nightmare that was the 150 ml tube of titanium white that I bought and had to return...:lol:

LapelPin
09-17-2010, 10:50 PM
Dear PaintMe,

Holbein's is professional grade, correct? As an art student, I get confused with terminology. My instructors call the top-notch paint 'professional grade', so when I see things like 'artist-grade' it doesn't register as being 'the best'. But I think Holbein's explains theirs as artist-grade? I guess what I'm making sure of is that it's not student-grade or something cheap.


I am very concerned about lightfastness and being able to achieve hyper realism. I'm coming from a background with working with tempera and gouache, but oils soluble with water are fantastic to me because they give me much more time to work on blending. But, as someone who's building their life portfolio, I want to make sure I buy the best product possible!

I won't buy anything quite yet; I may give this till next week just to see if I get more input. I have being so indecisive! :eek:

Also, thank you for the replies and time spent helping me, I appreciate it!

Crystal1
09-19-2010, 12:18 PM
LapelPin: I would still advise you to buy just a few tubes of either brand that you're interested in. I have not tried Holbein, as it's too expensive for me to practice with, anyway. I have heard very good things about it. There is NO BEST brand of paint that everyone will agree on. Holbein is a thicker paint and Cobra is a more liquid paint. The "nightmare" that paintmechanic refers to is that his titanium white from Cobra was very oily coming out of the tube. I, personally, don't mind that--I just put my paints first on a folded paper napkin, let the extra oil run out, then put the paint on my palette. If you like a more firm paint, then you will probably be happier with Holbein. Everybody has their own opinion about which paint they prefer most.

karenlee
09-19-2010, 07:12 PM
I agree that you should try brands before making a large investment in water miscible oil paint. I have been using Grumbacher MAX, which is their artist grade; MAX2 is their student grade. Grumbacher was the first company that introduced water miscible oils, back in 1992, so they have a track record, and a good color range. Don't forget that you can mix in any regular oils, and if you don't go over 30% regular oils, your paint is still water miscible. So your color range is quite large!

LapelPin
09-19-2010, 11:01 PM
Hi, Karenlee! Grumbacher worries me because they get very poor safety ratings.

Cobra paint is the first line to have no FDA warnings; Holbein has some, W&N has some, but most of Grumbacher's has a warning issued on their chemicals used in their paints.

Crystal: I need to make a speedy investment as I cannot keep instructors waiting as I switch from my oils to my water soluble oils. Time is of the essence! : )

DAK723
09-20-2010, 10:49 AM
Health labeling can be confusing and is often mis-represented on websites - and even on the tubes themselves, depending on how stringent the company is in their health labeling. As you probably know, some pigments need health labels - Cadmiums, Cobalts and many other of the heavy metals. If you check the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for the Cobra paints, they list all their Cadmiums and Cobalt paints as requiring health labeling - even though the Dick Blick Website does not include the health icon on their page. (This would be color nos. 511, 534, 207, 210, 211, 271, 303, 306, 314). While Grumbacher lists Chromium Oxide Green as needing a health label, Cobra does not - but they both use the same pigment (PG17) so they would officially need to be labeled identically.

The subject of just how dangerous the heavy metals are in oil paints has been debated thoroughly over the past few years, and opinions vary widely. Many believe that the dangers are minimal if one follows safe painting practices. Most of these pigments can't enter the body unless ingested, for example, and a few that can be inhaled (the pigment itself) can't be unless you sand the painting, or make your own paints. But still, many artists avoid the toxic pigments and use substitutes for the cadmiums, cobalts, and other heavy metals.

One thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to stick to one brand - you can mix them together. So what you buy now, might not be what you buy a year from now, or whenever you need to replace your used up tubes. Also, most painters recommend using a limited palette. When I tried the Holbein's for the first time a few month's ago, I just bought 5 tubes - 3 primaries, white and a dark earth color. If I buy some Cobras, I would do the same - 3 primaries, white and perhaps one other dark. Don't buy dozens of tubes - you don't need them. Most painters work with no more than 8 to 10 tubes maximum.

Don

EDIT: I should add, that Holbein has perhaps the most cadmium and cobalt substitutes. Their line of WSO's originally contained no heavy metals and were considered non-toxic. It is only in the past couple years, after many requests, that they added the cadmiums, cobalts, etc. So their line has many cadmium and cobalt "hues" - which do not contain any cadmium or cobalt. Always check the pigment number if you are uncertain.

Crystal1
09-20-2010, 12:56 PM
LapelPin: Have you already met with your teacher? My sister bought me Artisan WMO's about 10 years ago, because I was going to start taking painting classes. Then I joined the class and the teacher would not allow me to use the WMOs. In fact, I had two different teachers and they both insisted on different colors and brands in order to teach their method of color mixing. I would hate to see you have to buy a set and then have the teacher say you have to buy something else, like I did. Have a great time painting!

LapelPin
09-21-2010, 07:50 PM
DAK723- I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to explain that all to me. Wow, I feel like such a novice not knowing all these oil terms! So thank you for that thought-out explanation, I've read it several times and now I'm actually leaning more towards the Holbein's; golly it's just so hard to choose! But, nevertheless, I appreciate your explaining that all to me, it's valuable information!


Crystal1- Well, for in-class painting I have to use traditional oils, but for my portfolio building and meeting one-on-one, I may pick whatever mediums, so they're fine with the WMO's. ('Fine' is a generic word; it's not as if they can tell me I cannot use a certain medium, but saying 'water soluble oils' to oil painting teachers causes quite a many eyeball to widen...they're not too keen on my modern choices of paint, oops!) As I usually do when I test any sort of paint, I buy red, yellow and blue and a white and then I toy around. Since I've toyed with the W&N brand, I was wanting to choose a bit more colours for ordering, but again I've put that on hold and am now considering my options.

Decisions decisions! Thanks again, both Crystal and DAK!

Bluestocking
09-22-2010, 09:10 AM
Hi Lapelpin,
I really like the Holbein Duos. They have a lovely, buttery consistency, and I am able to use them straight out of the tube without any water or medium. They can be a bit pricey, but if you're only going to purchase three primaries and a white, you can test-drive the brand without too much financial difficulty - especially if you don't buy the cads or cobalts.

I found this site interesting and informative - perhaps it might help you, too:

http://www.buildart.com/secret_of_water_mixable_oils.htm

Best wishes in your painting journey!

Peace,
Regina

Kyle at Royal Talens
09-24-2010, 03:49 PM
You really need to try the Holbeins, not judge their company commitment based on a web page. The paint speaks for itself. I ordered some Cobra paint to compare with the Holbein, and frankly, it doesn't compare very well. The texture and consistency of the Cobra paint is all over the map, and the pigment strength is not as good as Holbein. If you paint with thin layers to get your hyper-realism, you'll appreciate the pigment concentration in Holbein. I've used at least 25 different colors from their line and there has never once been inconsistent quality or strength. It's the most consistent paint I have ever used, in any brand line. Cobra has a ways to go to become reliable, I was very disappointed with it. But they do have an awesome website. Just goes to show you. That's all marketing, not pride of ownership. Real pride shows in the consistent quality of the product they make.

Hello Paintmechanic,
I agree with you whole heartedly that everyone should try to products for various companies first and pay little attention to the marketing invloved, but at the same time, when you look at brands like Cobra, and Rembrandt they are supported by decades of expertise in the formulation of their products and have a royal designation by the Dutch govenment because they meet the qulity and ethical standards necessary to not only attain, but keep that designation. I'm very suprised that your comparison between Holbein and Cobra came out negative, becase we've had 3rd party draw downs done between the two and aside from on or two pigments, there was no comparison in pigment strength vs. Holbein. Really, if you want to compare it against something, compare Holbein vs. Rembrandt and your results will be almost exactly the same. Out of the thousands of people I've talked to, this is the first I've heard of their being a negative comparison. I'm very confused. Perhaps some draw downs would be appropriate for everyone to see. The website and marketing of Cobra is a nod to the fact that we know this material is the best in the category and will infact lend credibility with Acrylic painters as well as oil painters as it relates to water mixable oil colors as a serious technique. I've met with dozens of the worlds premier artist and worked with Cobra this week and they have only said if it weren't for Cobra, they wouldn't be taking this category seriously and are pleased that somebody eleveated the material past where it was previously. I'm sorry your experience wasn't the same.

giselle66
11-29-2010, 10:05 PM
I have the same opinon of Cobra, negative compared to Holbein.
And the worst part was trying to wash my good brushes after using Cobra... the paint simply would not come out completely (I tried both of their painting mediums and it made the brushes a gloppy mess which is what I suspect caused the cleaning up issue) and I had to soak them repeatedly so now they're basically useless.
Cobra makes a lot of claims about how to use the paint on their webiste and on their Facebook blog and then there's a wordy, verbose discalimer stating they aren't responsible for any results, damage, etc., etc.
It took just as long to dry as other water miscible oils I've tried using just water as a dilutent so their claims about faster drying is bunk too in my tests.
I sent it all back for a refund.

css
12-03-2010, 10:24 AM
Lukas Berlin WMOS never get much play here on the forums, but I'm a huge fan of them. I've used the W&N, HK Holbein, Lukas, Grumbacher, Van Gogh H2Oil.

Alot of people say that the Berlin aren't prof grade, but I think the pigments speak and the buttery consistency is why I am attracted to them.

Give them a shot. They come in large tubes as well and are very reasonable $$-wise.

The only color I couldn't find from them in Alizaren, but I've switched to their Primary Red which is more of a purple/red an it works nicely.