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Old 09-01-2002, 01:52 AM
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Just an update - I've loaded up another bazillion products. Mostly in Mediums (Oil), but in several other areas as well (some watercolors, Oil Sticks, Pastels, etc. Most of them don't have any sort of rating questions assigned to them yet, so browsing them will be difficult. Browse around and see ...

The Mediums (Oil) category should definitely be broken up, me thinks. Perhaps things like Waxes/Resins/Balms could be put into another category. I keep going back and forth. The reason categorizing everything is so important, is that the rating system's true value comes out when we are able to compare like-items. In order to facilitate this, we need to make sure things are where they should be.

Thoughts?

Cheers.
Scott
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Old 09-01-2002, 10:42 AM
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It has been suggested that we create a category called "Oil Paints (Mid-Range). This is what was suggested (unfortunately, there was a bug in the review system that truncated the description). Hopefully, whoever suggested it can post their thoughts here.

--------

Hi Scott, I believe there is room to include an Oil Paint Mid-Range sub-category. The reason for this is that some brands do not fit the PRO nor the Student grades. Taking TALENS as an example, we have REMBRANDT as the PRO, AMSTERDAM as the Student, bu

--------

If we were to do it, who would be the judge of what constitutes a mid-range item vs. a pro item?

Cheers.
Scott
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Old 09-01-2002, 11:01 AM
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Luis Guerreiro Luis Guerreiro is offline
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A FEW THOUGHTS

Hi Scott,

Firstly I would like to say that this is an excellent project, I personally like the idea of putting pressure on Art Materials Manufacturers, because that can bring them closer to the artists.
Thanks for your Msg alerting me for this project.
I have indeed thought about it and have some ideas...

I - OIL PAINTS

I think Oil Paints should be divided into the following categories first:

1. PRO
2. STUDENT
3. MID RANGE
4. BULK / LARGE VOLUME

Some products cross ref more than one category, because of the Manufacturers policies, etc. An obvious case is AMSTERDAM from Royal Talens. Although classified as STUDENT grade, it also is recommended for professionals working with very large paintings.
A mis-conception (and an enormous snobbery!) is to think that only paints using traditional pigments should be considered professionalk grade. Wrong! Some modern pigments or pigments more associated with mid-range paints are just as good, only cheaper and sometimes safer. In the case of AMSTERDAM, it has a top range of 500 ML tins, that makes it attractive to Professionals (including myself) using them for very large panels, especially in abstract painting.

An example why a mid-range class could be useful is LUKAS STUDIO. This is not a PRO paint, strictly speaking. It is however used by professionals together with leisure painters, less by students, hence its somewhat "Mid-Range" characteristics. Another example of this is WINTON from W&N which for years has been considered strictly "student grade" when in reality it is stronger in pigment concentration than say, Lukas Studio.

So sometimes, things get blurred thus making it difficult to place things correctly in a project like this.

As a criteria for classifying oil paints, I would like to suggest the following:

1. Pigment Concentration
2. Binder (linseed oil, poppy oil, waxes or resins mixed in, etc...)
3. Additives and siccatives/driers
4. Traditional Pigments Ranges used
5. Modern pigments used
6. Covering Power
7. Balance opaque vs transparent colours
8. Total colour range
9. Properties out of the tube (long or short oil?)
10. Volume packaging catering for all, inclusive of big works painters?

Another point to make is the need for this project to cater for what is happening on both sides of the Atlantic, so the more manufacturers are included, the better.

As for oil mediums, I honestly did not check its current configuration, but I suggest the system complies only with:

1. Is the medium traditional based? That is, does it use as ingredients just traditional oil painting ingredients (such as oils, damar, mastic, bees waxes, balsams, hard resins such as Copal, etc...) and as such, is it compliant with a more traditional technique?

2. Is the medium modern? Does it use synthetic resins, alkyd components, modified oils, etc?

I really do not think it is appropriate to create categories for ingredients, because it is virtually impossible to classify them. Who is to say that bees wax is better than microcrystaline wax? Well, it is for me, but not necessarily for the painter next door and here is where we get into a very slippery ground indeed. Also although, for example, it is fair for me to say that DAMAR BATAVIA is better than CHIOS MASTIC, this may be not true at all for another painter.

Finally, I saw an entry for primers, I presume that includes all sorts of primers.

I am going back to the system now to suggest some products I think should be listed.

I think this is a BRILLIANT IDEA Scott. Count on me for any ideas f necessary, I'll be more than happy to help.

Kind regards

Luis
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Old 09-01-2002, 11:34 AM
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Personally, I think we're going a little overboard. You get too many categories, and you don't know where anything is. I wasn't even convinced that we should split up the student grade. But at least the manufacturers split it up for us, saying that the paint is student grade or professional. I don't recall ever seeing a tube of paint with "Mid-Grade" written on it. What is a mid-grade?
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Old 09-01-2002, 11:43 AM
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Luis Guerreiro Luis Guerreiro is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by robinsn
Personally, I think we're going a little overboard. You get too many categories, and you don't know where anything is. I wasn't even convinced that we should split up the student grade. But at least the manufacturers split it up for us, saying that the paint is student grade or professional. I don't recall ever seeing a tube of paint with "Mid-Grade" written on it. What is a mid-grade?

I dare to disagree. So long as there is a search facility in the system, obvious and fool-proof enough, there shouldn't be a problem about having as many sub-categories as necessary. Besides, if a sub-category is not there to cater for a particular type of painter, I would consider the system incomplete.
Personally, I hope the system caters for professional like me who work large, sometimes as large as 8ftx12ft.

Personally, I don't give a toss about what the manufacturers say. Usually, what they say serves only their marketing and multi-national sales objectives. Nothing else.
It is up to us the Artists, with an independent and objective view about materials we use everyday, to have our SAY.
The fact that you do not recall any manufacturer classifying their own paint as MID-RANGE speaks for itself. It is al either PRO or Student, a ludicrous way of classifying oil paints. There are indeed brands that only fit in the middle of the two and it is up to us to expose such details, so Artists benefit from the Information and Manufacturers learn the lesson once and for all, that we are "switched-on" people who do not take "labels" for facts.

Luis
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Old 09-01-2002, 11:51 AM
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Re: A FEW THOUGHTS

Luis - thanks for stopping by and providing your insights. I was hoping you'd show up here.

Comments below:

Quote:
Originally posted by Luis Guerreiro
Hi Scott,
I think Oil Paints should be divided into the following categories first:

1. PRO
2. STUDENT
3. MID RANGE
4. BULK / LARGE VOLUME



Interesting thoughts. Who/how do we decide which products get listed in mid-range vs. pro, etc.?

Quote:

Some products cross ref more than one category, because of the Manufacturers policies, etc. An obvious case is AMSTERDAM from Royal Talens. Although classified as STUDENT grade, it also is recommended for professionals working with very large paintings.


A great example of my previous question. Obviously, they are going to complain that their product is not in the "professional" category. But if we did that, it would likely get lower ratings than the more high-end paints, which are, in fact, targeted to the professionals.

Quote:

A mis-conception (and an enormous snobbery!) is to think that only paints using traditional pigments should be considered professionalk grade. Wrong! Some modern pigments or pigments more associated with mid-range paints are just as good, only cheaper and sometimes safer. In the case of AMSTERDAM, it has a top range of 500 ML tins, that makes it attractive to Professionals (including myself) using them for very large panels, especially in abstract painting.


I agree. But, obviously, professional artists already know that the properties of mid-range paints have their merits. In a "review" scenario, we have to be able to solidly "put" each product somewhere.

Perhaps we should determine a products final placement based on its target market, as determined by the manufacturer. THe good news is that as long as the various categories of oil paints have the same rating "map" (list of rating questions), then we can easily move them from one category to the next if we need to. This will be an ongoing endeavor, of course.

Quote:
So sometimes, things get blurred thus making it difficult to place things correctly in a project like this.


Indeed!

Quote:

As a criteria for classifying oil paints, I would like to suggest the following:


Hmm, very interesting, and definitely at the level we are talking about here.

Quote:

1. Pigment Concentration
2. Binder (linseed oil, poppy oil, waxes or resins mixed in, etc...)
3. Additives and siccatives/driers
4. Traditional Pigments Ranges used
5. Modern pigments used
6. Covering Power
7. Balance opaque vs transparent colours
8. Total colour range
9. Properties out of the tube (long or short oil?)
10. Volume packaging catering for all, inclusive of big works painters?


Some of these we touch on now, others we haven't thought about. Some I don't think we can provide a numeric rating scheme for (such as volume packaging - that's more of an "attribute" - a yes or a no, rather than a 1-5 rating).

I'd love to hear thoughts of others on this list, specifically, how we might incorporate some of these into the system.

Quote:

Another point to make is the need for this project to cater for what is happening on both sides of the Atlantic, so the more manufacturers are included, the better.


Indeed. In fact, if you look at the items I've already added, you'll see that both sides are well-represented. Lots of hard to find stuff, too. Of course, if I've missed something, suggest away!

Quote:

As for oil mediums, I honestly did not check its current configuration, but I suggest the system complies only with:

1. Is the medium traditional based? That is, does it use as ingredients just traditional oil painting ingredients (such as oils, damar, mastic, bees waxes, balsams, hard resins such as Copal, etc...) and as such, is it compliant with a more traditional technique?

2. Is the medium modern? Does it use synthetic resins, alkyd components, modified oils, etc?


Again, these are more "attributes" than anything else. Yes or no, rather than a question we can ask a potential reviewer.

I honestly don't know how we create a rating scheme for mediums. Perhaps just an overall rating is good enough (of course, all reviewers have text areas in which they can expand on their rating scores).

Quote:

I really do not think it is appropriate to create categories for ingredients, because it is virtually impossible to classify them. Who is to say that bees wax is better than microcrystaline wax?


But where do we put them? Perhaps just one big category for all the waxes, balms, etc?

As far as the category breakdown, I am thinking something like this (all under the primary Painting category):
  • Oils: which wuold include linseed, poppy seed, black oil, etc.
  • Siccatives: Courtrai, cobalt additives, etc.
  • Pigments: Not every individual pigment, but the brand (i.e. Kama Pigments, Blockx Pigments, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous Ingredients: waxes, balms, etc.
  • Mediums: These are created by manufacturers and are the result of adding siccatives with oils, and other ingredients. (examples: liquin, Gel mediums, etc.)
  • Varnishes and Coatings: damar, picture varnish, retouching varnishes, etc.

Things like mineral spirits, turps, etc., would go under the existing Cleaning:Solvents and Cleaners category.

Quote:

Finally, I saw an entry for primers, I presume that includes all sorts of primers.


It's all tentative now - everything is subject to change. Basically, whatever makes the most sense. If we need to create new categories, move old ones around, delete some, etc., we'll do it.

Quote:
I think this is a BRILLIANT IDEA Scott. Count on me for any ideas f necessary, I'll be more than happy to help.


Thanks! I'm sure your participation will be critical in this. If there are others that you think might find this project of interest, feel free to invite them to participate. I don't want this to turn into a "debate" - lol - about where products go, what is mid-range vs. pro, etc., but I think if we keep it subjective and simple, we'll have a tool that everyone can benefit from.

Cheers.
Scott
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Old 09-01-2002, 11:57 AM
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scottb scottb is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by robinsn
Personally, I think we're going a little overboard. You get too many categories, and you don't know where anything is. I wasn't even convinced that we should split up the student grade. But at least the manufacturers split it up for us, saying that the paint is student grade or professional. I don't recall ever seeing a tube of paint with "Mid-Grade" written on it. What is a mid-grade?

I agree with you, Randy, but also see Luis's point as well.

For example:

Michael Harding and Robert Doak make some very high-end stuff. Definitely professional quality. Are things like Grumbacher Pre-Tested really at that high-end level? Dunno.

This is one of those really gray areas with Oils, and with the review system.

I'm not concerned with visitors not being able to find things - the search tools work well for that. I am concerned, however, that if a product is in the wrong place, it won't be there for the purposes of comparison with other products in the same category. Obviously, if we create a "mid-range" category, it won't be as easy to compare that item to paints in adjoining ranges. So for each product, we have to have a "hard and fast" YES or NO with regard to where it belongs.

Cheers.
Scott
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Old 09-01-2002, 12:17 PM
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But what do we gain by having it separated out into another category?

I'm pretty sure that this whole review section is aimed at the beginners, not the professionals. I would think the pros, such as yourself, already know which paints are mid-range, student or pro grade and which are good and which aren't. The beginners need to see what the pros say about them so they can make an intelligent purchase without experience.

If a manufacturer labels their paint as pro, then I think it should 'compete' with the other pro grade paints and let it stand on its own merits. If x brand pro grade doesn't hold up to a comparison with OH then people will know it's not as good as OH, right?

Quote:
There are indeed brands that only fit in the middle of the two and it is up to us to expose such details, so Artists benefit from the Information and Manufacturers learn the lesson once and for all, that we are "switched-on" people who do not take "labels" for facts.

Exactly, and a review rating pro grade "x" as a 4.5 and pro grade "y" as 2.3 will show exactly that.

If you split them up, the pro grade "y" could rate as a 4.5 in mid-range. That doesn't give the same message.
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Old 09-01-2002, 12:24 PM
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Timely post, Randy. I just ran downstairs and had a late breakfast with my wife (a non-artist) who pointed out the same thing.

If we do too much splitting of the categories, we lose the value of having highs and lows.

I think we gain a lot more by grouping the paints based on the manufacturer's target market. If their paint is sub-par, it will be reflected in the ratings. At the end of the day, the product has to survive on its own merit. The expertise of the professional artists will serve to "put them in their respective place", as they review the various products.

Cheers.
Scott
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Old 09-01-2002, 12:51 PM
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Scott, I was in the middle of a long post on different points but saw your reply and have deleted most of it. But in doing this, I came across another point. Price. I know you've said you don't want to do this and that it would be difficult, but I'm thinking that the price is a major point in purchases and because there are no prices or price ranges on these paints, a potential user would have to do a lot of jumping around to find out how expensive it is. Let me include part of my other message that led me to this:

My best guess is, that there are basically 3 kinds of people shopping for a paint. Those who want cheap paint and those that want the best paint they can afford, and those who want the best whatever the price.

The first type would probably look in student grade and look at what other people like and if it's cheap enough, buy that paint. Although with my experience in other areas (not art), the 'cheap' buyers aren't even concerned about quality. They just want cheap, so maybe they wouldn't even use this system.

The next category would want to look in the pro grade (or student grade if on a tight budget), sort by rating, look at the top rating and work their way down until they find a brand that sounds good for them that they can afford.

The last category would examine all the top brands and decide which they like best.

So, Scott, if my assumptions are close to reality, most people are going to want to know how expensive these paints are as they are reading the reviews and they'll have to be searching the web while reading to come up with prices.

Could there be some example prices somehow? For example, include prices for common colors like raw sienna, Cad Yellow, Cobalt Blue just to give an idea of price? Maybe it could be suggested retail as of a certain date with disclaimer that it's just an estimated price? Or maybe even some kind of price rating like they do for restaurants. 2 stars means a meal costs $4-6, etc. I don't know the answer, but I just think some idea of how expensive things are in this system would help tremendously.
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Last edited by robinsn : 09-01-2002 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 09-01-2002, 12:56 PM
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Hi there, Randy.

I wanted to stray away from prices initially, just because it would be a PITA to maintain - and whose prices would we use? Blick's? Jerry's? MSRP?

Your idea of a price "rating" has some merit, but prices do fluctuate. I wonder if price is best addressed by each reviewer in their review? Example: "I found a set of these at Pearl for $19.99 each. Cheapest place I've found!".

At the end of the day, I want what is best for this community, so if you guys feel we need to put a "price rating" in, we'll do it.

Cheers.
Scott
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Old 09-01-2002, 01:03 PM
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Luis - I noticed you are putting in some reviews - great!

However, I just wanted to make sure you read the notice on the front page of the review system:

Quote:
NOTE: This review system is in development/testing. Feel free to put in some reviews of your own for testing. However, any reviews that you put in now will be erased when we roll the system out!

The reason for this is explained (I believe) somewhere toward the beginning of this thread (re: rating questions).

If these are reviews that you would like to use in the production system, my recommendation is to copy/paste them to a file, and when we roll the system out with the final set of rating questions, you can paste them back in.

Cheers.
Scott
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Old 09-01-2002, 01:18 PM
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One small thing: When you're looking at the rating of a product and it says, "Ratings for this Item:", how about including how many reviews it entails like "Ratings for this Item (9 reviews):"?
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Last edited by robinsn : 09-01-2002 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 09-01-2002, 01:20 PM
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The system has already been useful to me. Because of Luis's reviews, I'm going to have to try Michael Harding's paints!
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Old 09-01-2002, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by robinsn
One small thing: When you're looking at the rating of a product and it says, "Ratings for this Item:", how about including how many reviews it entails like "Ratings for this Item (9 reviews):"?

Making a note ...
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