Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some of My Favorite Oil Supplies

I often get asked what paints, brushes & supplies I use so I thought I would create a post with images for all us visual learners to make sharing the info easier.

These are the supplies that I use when I teach my workshops and art classes.  My next class starts in March, please visit if you would like more information.


 Silver Bristalon Synthetic Rounds - Absolutely LOVE these brushes! They allow you to scrub to your hearts content yet the bristles stay together nicely and do not splay.  They may break down over time, but they always retain their shape and you don't get that annoying odd stray hair sticking out the side as you usually do with scrubbing brushes.
 Silver Ruby Satin Synthetic - Again love this brush.  Excellent snap, soft yet able to achieve fine control.  Very resilient brush.

Rosemary & Co Ivory Long Flat - Love, love these brushes for alla prima and plein air painting.  They hold a lot of paint and keep a clean edge no matter how many times I have used them (assuming you are caring for them properly).

Winsor & Newton Oil Brushes  - These are great brushes for plein air and alla prima as well and are easily found in Canada, sadly the others need to be shipped from the UK and the USA.  They are great for alla prima as well but stiffer so they do not wear as well as the Ivory brushes and require a much softer touch to get soft edges as the bristles are quite stiff but still a great all round brush.

You get what you pay for with art supplies and student grade paints cost less for a reason.  They are full of fillers rather than paint pigment so buy less and buy quality.  I like Gamblin, Holbein, Old Holland and Winsor Newton Artist Oil Paints (not Winton).

Gamblin Flake White Replacement -  lead-free and offers a beautiful opalescence, a long and ropey stroke, warm colors, translucency, and a short, sharp brush mark.
Gamblin Van Dyke Brown - I use with my flake white to mix my neutral grays but it is also great for glazing as is a warm, transparent permanent black.


Painting Medium - I make my own painting medium with a mixture of refined linseed oil and Gamsol Odorless mineral spirits.  I adjust the amounts in each layer to ensure I am painting fat over lean.

Oleogel is a non-toxic medium made of linseed oil and pyrogenic silica.

Oleogel contains no driers and a little goes a long way. As with any medium, use sparingly to ensure the fat over lean rules are followed.

Gamblin also makes a solvent free painting gel now which is quite nice and easily available in Canada.

 Gamsol  -  I don't use in my workshops but I do use at home.  It is a bit more expensive than many other solvents but the evaporation rate is much lower so to me worth every penny.  I only use it very sparingly in the first layer of my paintings and then if I am not using Oleogel, mixed with oil for successive layers decreasing the amount of solvent added as the layers progress.

The amount I use is so minimal in a small dipper cup that I am sure I am exposed to much more toxicity styling my hair ;)


I have several palettes, wooden, paper and glass but prefer glass.  This is a glass palette that I made by taping a piece of grey disposable palette paper to a sheet of glass and then taped the edges with sturdy black masking tape to avoid cuts.  I have several palettes like this in various sizes.  The glass can be picked up at a glass store or automotive and the edges can be rounded and tempered.  For a quick cheap glass palette, go to the dollar store and pick up a 8x10" or 11x14" frame that you can either slide a piece of the grey palette paper under or even just leave with the brown cardstock.  Depending on the frame you could just leave the frame as is or through out the frame and tape the edges of the glass.  If the glass is thin as most are, use mdf or heavy cardboard for support and tape the edges well to avoid cuts.

 Empty Aluminiumm 15ml Tubes  - I like to premix colors I use frequently so these tubes are great for storing the paint so it is fresh every time I paint.

Subtrates (Supports)

I prefer to paint on panel or linen for finished paintings.

Centurian Linen Oil primed linen at a reasonable price that is great quality.  Available in pads, panels or stretched canvases.  I recently discovered this linen and love it for finished paintings, studies and plein air.  
For studies or plein air paintings, I like the substrates below.

  Canson Vidalon Vellum - can also be called Mylar but get this brand.  I tried others and not the same.  You can buy it by the sheet or in pads.  Great for doing oil exercises on and studies as you don't need to prep at all.  Just cut and use.

Canson Canva-Paper - a great canvas paper with a look similar to linen that you can do alla prima, plein air and studies on without having to prep.  


  1. Hello,

    Thanks. Can you please tell me, where did you find the information that Oleogel was non-toxic? The manufacturer states that it contains no dryers, but I have not seen them claim non-toxicity. If this is true, it's great, but I would like to be sure.

    1. It says on their website, it is made of fumed silica and linseed oil. Hope that helps. Gamblin also makes a non-toxic gel now which is similar and easier to find locally.